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Test engineering: necessary evil or exciting opportunity?

Written by Astrid Roest on 29 March 2022 for Tech Graduates

Like most IT talents, software engineer Lars Van Roy had some doubts about becoming a software tester. Is this really what I want to do? He asked. After all, testing software is not the same as developing it. He decided to give it a shot and found out that he gets to do a lot more software engineering than he thought. “I never imagined this job would be so diverse, so challenging and so interesting!” He says… (Interview date: July 2021)

Lars’ Specs

  • 23 years old
  • UAntwerp graduate
  • Lives in Zandoven (not too far from Antwerp)
  • Has two dogs: Lio & Wolf
  • Occasional padel player

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First things first: tell us a little bit about yourself. Who are you, what are your hobbies?

Lars: “My name is Lars Van Roy. I live in Zandhoven, about 20 minutes from Antwerp. I have two dogs, Lio and Wolf. My hobbies? Well, I’m actually still in school, so after work a lot of time goes to studying, although I also play padel with some buddies once or twice a week.”

Studying as a hobby?

“I graduated as a bachelor in computer science but decided to continue at the university for a masters in software engineering. I’ve completed all my exams and am now bringing my thesis to a close. I’m pretty much finished now, although I must admit that the combination of working for Exellys and writing my thesis was a lot more time-consuming than I had anticipated. It caused quite a bit of stress and pressure that, in hindsight, I would have liked to avoid. But I’m almost done now so all’s well that ends well.”

You’re working for Exellys since February. How did that come about?

“I checked the LinkedIn job bank and applied for a few interesting vacancies. Exellys was one of the companies that responded to my application. I had already heard about you through the university. That name recognition definitely had something to do with my interest as well.”

Given today’s ‘war for talent’, I can imagine Exellys wasn’t the only interested party. What made you decide to choose us?

“It’s true, I had a couple of offers. But it became clear quite quickly that Exellys was by far the better choice. It’s very important to me to keep growing, keep learning, keep improving. The coaching I’m getting from Exellys is a huge help in that department. You guys tell me what I still need to work on, give me tips on how to go about certain problems in a different way, etc. I’m learning a lot. I also want to be challenged every day. I need variation, not to be doing the same stuff day in and day out. I want to look for new solutions to new problems regularly. Exellys offered that, that’s what made you stand out.”

Have we lived up to your expectations so far?

“Yes, though maybe not in the way I had expected. At my first feedback meeting after three months, I was told that my peers hadn’t really given much feedback about me. They said I was doing great and I should just keep it up. So even though that was nice to hear, it wasn’t very helpful. But Exellys had made me take several tests, even after I started working for SWIFT. These tests showed what I already knew: that my soft skills need work. I asked if they could help me develop my social skills, and they gave me the assignment to organize a (virtual) afterwork drink with co-workers.

So the ‘challenge’ I had anticipated on a professional, job-related level was expanded to other aspects of my life which I was pleasantly surprised about.”

You started your career in less than ideal times. Due to Covid-19, you’ve been working from home the entire time. You probably never physically saw the SWIFT office. What has that been like for you?

“It was strange at first. When I was just getting started, I had a lot of questions, there were a lot of things I didn’t know. Then I had to ask for help from people I had never actually met. That was a bit unusual. But on the other hand, it can be challenging for me to be exposed to unfamiliar situations, to have real-life interactions with people I don’t know. So in that way, starting remotely worked out great for me.

Now, there are plans to work from the office one day a week, with the whole team, so we can meet each other in person.”

Test engineering necessary evil or exciting opportunity Quote

How exciting! Something to look forward to. Circling back to your onboarding with Exellys: how did you experience our selection procedure?

“I had to take a number of tests. I have to say, it was pretty time-consuming. There were two rounds of long conversations and tests that required preparation. And I was still studying at the time as well, so that took a lot of time. But it was definitely worth it. The tests were about my technical abilities and my personality. The results were good, so that’s when I started the matching process and ended up at SWIFT.”

Can you tell us about your job at SWIFT? What do they do as a company, what is your role there?

“SWIFT is a big name in the financial services industry as they are the global provider of secure financial messaging services. Specifically, my part lies within the software that banks use for their transactions, the message handling between them. My job is to test if everything is working accordingly.

At first I was worried about taking a job as a tester. I’m a software engineer, I didn’t want to be testing software, I wanted to develop it! But considering the benefits of working for Exellys, I decided to give it a chance, and it was a pleasant surprise. As it turns out, mere testing is only a small part of my responsibilities. The larger chunk of my time goes to developing the framework for the automated tests, which in essence is software engineering. I have also worked a lot on the platform that is used for running the tests and I’m also helping colleagues with the software that I’ve tested. Let’s say that there’s more to my job than I initially thought.”

Within the broad scope of IT, testing is often considered a necessary evil that no one really wants to do. Why do you think that is?

“For me personally, it’s because the testing I had to do at university was not the most fun part of projects. But this created an erroneous image in my head. As it turns out, since I started working as a test engineer, it’s a lot more fun than I thought! I get to make changes and improvements to the testing framework. I get a lot of responsibility in this regard. A colleague and I have also spent about a month dockerising the testing framework. This job is much more than just running processes and seeing if everything does what it’s meant to do.”

What is your team like?

“There’s squads and teams interlinking the squads. I’m in the Platform & Technology squad. We’re responsible for the basics: the platform everything runs on. Before I started, I thought, SWIFT is a big company, I’ll just be a small link and I probably won’t have a big impact. But that’s not true at all. I had a lot of support from my team when I first started and now, a few months later, I am also a big help to my team. My opinion counts, even with problems that aren’t about software testing. That means a lot to me.”

How do you see the future? What are your goals and ambitions in the short and long term?

“In the short term, I would like to take on more responsibility. That’s already happening now, I’m very grateful that I’m getting this trust and these opportunities. In the long term, I see myself a bit higher up, leading a team.”

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Is there anything else you’d like to share?

“Just that I’m very happy with Exellys. Some of my friends are still studying and ask me what I do for work nowadays. I always speak highly of Exellys to them. I’m very happy I started here and would definitely recommend it to others.”

Great to hear! Thanks for your time, Lars!

Has Lars’ story inspired you to join our team as well? Have a look at our website and discover all the possibilities. Whether you’re from Belgium, the Netherlands or anywhere else in the European Union or UK; if you have a passion for IT and/or technology and are not afraid of stepping out of your comfort zone, we definitely want to get to know you!

About Exellys

Exellys is a Tech Talent Incubator. We match ambitious companies with the finest tech talent. Are you ready to drive the innovations of tomorrow? Ready to make an impact and become a future-fit digital leader

Whether you are a graduate or (young) professional, Exellys will unlock your full potential by guiding you to a challenging work environment that perfectly matches your personality, expectations and ambitions.

On top of that, you are enrolled in one of our very own training and coaching programs (based on your personal and professional ambition and experience). This means that, while working as an Exellys consultant, we are helping you to bridge your ambition to excellence.

Through intensive training and coaching, you’ll gain the essential skills, competencies and knowledge necessary to become the highly effective professional you aim to be. Become an Exellyst and get in touch with us today!

Written by Astrid Roest Talent Development Manager