From an intern to a team leader. The story of Maja Bieńko

It’s the dream of every trainee to stay in a company that meets their requirements. This was the case with Maja Bieńko, who joined Aspire Systems Poland (previously Goyello) as a trainee during her studies. Now, she is a Software Tester at Aspire, and shares her thoughts on being an intern, a product owner and a team leader with Adam Łopusiewicz from the Just Join IT blog.

How did your adventure with testing and software development begin?

I was studying computer science at ETI, Gdańsk University of Technology and I was not sure if programming was something that I would want to do all my life. I didn’t know if I would become a programmer, a tester, or even a business analyst, so I applied for the Goyello internship programme.

What was your job about?

It was a mix. My duties included writing both automatic and manual tests, but I also did system analysis. This position combined everything I had always wanted to try. And so my career with testing began. I thought for a long time that I would always be in testing, because I liked it very much.

What was the first day of the internship like?

Everything was new, but I got a lot of help from senior colleagues. My friends from university got into the same traineeship programme, which also encouraged me. However, I was the only tester in my project, and the first task was to find out how the application worked, and what the business rules were.

Did you have a mentor?

At that time, the mentoring process was not as developed as it is today. This was my main concern when it came to the internship. However, my team-mate, a programmer, helped me solve problems. I also asked testers from other projects for reviews and they were very helpful.

From a beginner tester you quickly became a product owner. How did that happen?

In the beginning I was a tester of our internal application – League of Geeks.  sent my proposals for changes to the product owner, who was Paweł Bejger at the time. He suggested that since I could see so many points for improvement, I would perhaps like to take care of the whole project. That is how I became a Product Owner.

How do you manage your team?

I make sure that knowledge stays in the team. That’s why I keep records of all the important things. I try to select what is valuable, worth documenting. Currently, I am in the process of transforming all our previous documentation, updating it, and working on technological debt.

What have you been working on lately?

Recently, I worked on three projects. For two and a half days I was working on a very big project related to aviation. My entire test team was in Belgium, which was a big challenge and gave me a lot in terms of development. For two days I was involved in another project, in which I was not only a tester, but also a Scrum Master. As you can see, during the week, I spent only half a day working on the Product Owner’s work.

Can you compare what the day looked like, now and then?

When I was only a tester in one project, I had a list of tasks, functionalities that I needed to check, test and consult on with other developers. Today, working on several projects at once, I track the hours spent in each project.

I’ve learned what is more important and valuable in the moment, which tasks I can put off when there are a lot of them. I had to learn how to organize my work. I used to sit for eight hours in one project, occasionally attending a meeting. Now, there are days when I have a meeting after meeting, which makes it difficult to accomplish my own tasks later.

You also take care of the team’s development. What does this involve?

I’m a contact point for them, a person to whom they turn with any problems. I also make sure that they grow in Aspire and realize their ambitions. We have annual goals that we discuss. And they know, they can ask me for help in that matter.

What would you like to pass on to future trainees?

The main thing is to tame the fear and uncertainty. Don’t let it stop you from undertaking ambitious tasks. I was lucky that my manager encouraged me to take on subjects that seemed beyond my reach and skills. Thanks to this, I independently take on new challenges that are now standing in front of me.

The interview was first published on the Just Join IT Blog.

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