Vernon Richards | Quality Coach

Nov 13, 2022

3 Things I Discovered About Learning New Technical Skills By Testing 8 API Stories in 2 Sprints

3 weeks ago, I had to test my first API story in 6 years.

In that time, I've tested 8 API stories, learned the fundamentals of Postman, written my first testing-specific bash script, got to grips with the fundamentals of Git and GitHub (and learned they are NOT the same thing!) and declared myself a technical tester.

Here are the 3 most significant things that experience has taught me about learning new testing skills:

1. Start small

Success isn't going from zero to Julia Pottinger level by yesterday!

Start small. Instead of tackling an entire body of knowledge and trying to achieve deity level all at once, chunk the problem down, then down again until it's manageable.

Compare these examples:

BAD: I need to master everything about GET, HEAD, POST, PUT, DELETE, CONNECT, OPTIONS, TRACE and PATCH.

BETTER: I need to learn basic CRUD operations by Christmas.

BEST: I need to learn how to make a GET request with no parameters by the end of the sprint.

2. Compounding is incredible

Stay consistent over time, and the progress will take care of itself.

My team use 2-week sprints. That means I achieved all that in less than two weeks. How? I did a little bit each day. I'd learn something on a course, read something in a book, or get advice. Then I'd immediately apply what I'd learned.

But what would I apply it to?

3. Solve a real problem

Real problems are better than abstract problems.

Learning that "The GET method requests a representation of the specified resource. Requests using GET should only retrieve data." is one thing (thanks Mozilla!). Seeing your web app GET customer data from an actual website you're testing is something else!

The more relatable you can make your learning, the more likely it is to stick.

BONUS! Have a guide

Learn from other people's successes and failures.

Getting yourself unstuck is a powerful learning experience, but sometimes, technical topics have arcane, esoteric snippets of info that can make you lose all momentum.

A guide can spot those and get you back on track without losing too much momentum.

Let's do this!

If you've been thinking about learning a technical testing topic, get started and let me know. We can hold each other accountable!

Vernon Richards | Quality Coach

Welcome to my blog! I write about: Coaching 📈 Software Quality 🕵🏾 Agile 🔁