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You must have heard this at least once if you’re from the IT industry that making the transition from QA or some other technical role to a software developer can be extremely difficult. And actually a lot of people want to do that, discipline/domain change from QA/Support to Software Developer. If you are one of them, this article is for you.

I made this transition myself, So I thought of sharing some points which helped me in this journey and might be helpful for you as well. In this post, I‘ll share with you what I have experienced and the lessons I learned, that might help you in your journey. I hope something in this post resonates with you and adds value to your life.

Beginning

I started programming at my college. I did some freelancing work / developed websites for different companies. Worked for a startup as a PHP developer. After that, I got placed from my college in an MNC.

In that company, I started my journey with learning technologies/frameworks like selenium, appium, cucumber, and various automation frameworks. Then there was a turning point when I got an opportunity to work on a framework called Galen Framework, which is used for creative automation. When I started working on it in 2016, it was pretty new at that time, there was no detailed documentation, most people were not aware of it. After 3 months of R&D, I made a Javascript automation framework on top of it. In those 3 months, I developed an interest in Javascript and this is how I made my bridge to a development role. This was my first step towards learning Javascript.

Learning

It is hard to learn anything at first because often you get confused in the middle. Don’t feel bad it happens to everyone so choose one of the programming languages and stick with it until you feel comfortable and never give up.

I started with some of the online courses from Lynda, Udemy, FrontendMasters, Pluralsight, and youtube and did assignments that came along with courses. Practised on freeCodeCamp, codewars, w3Schools. Read books like “JavaScript: The Definitive Guide” by David Flanagan and “JavaScript: The Good Parts” by Douglas Crockford & Participated in Hackathons. I spent a lot of time learning Javascript and started exploring some libraries like handlebar and react. However, I had PHP programming experience earlier, which somehow helped me because I could relate things. Its always good to have a secondary programming language experience so you can relate things and understand it better.

A Journey from QA to Software Developer - Digital Book - Ashmeet Sehgal

Things which helped me during this phase and still helping me:

  1. Start from the basics. Start reading books, at least ONE.
  2. Avoid (STOP) looking for answers in StackOverflow, or Don’t directly jump to answers, instead try to read things around the problem.
  3. Start looking for the BEST solution instead of an easy solution, try to read all possible solutions.

The Struggle

A Journey from QA to Software Developer - Path - Ashmeet Sehgal

Even though I was working on Javascript on top of automation framework, I wasn’t getting any opportunity to work as a developer for any project. As they say in IT industry “Once you have a role within a company, people tend to always see you like that particular role, regardless of your skill set or how you grow.”

In the software development world, in particular, there is usually a sharp distinction between software developers and testers (or QA).

Because of this bias, coming into a new company as a software developer is often easier than transitioning to a software development role from being a tester or other position. This can be extremely frustrating — especially if you’ve outgrown your previous role.

You will have to be patient, and realize that although it will take time for perceptions to change, they eventually will.

The more you can involve yourself in the software development side and take on more programming tasks, the more other people will start to see you in the new role.

Sometimes, though, you may have to move to a completely different company to escape the box you’ve been put into.

Opportunity

You might have to make your own opportunities. My first piece of advice to you would be to go ahead and make your goal known as widely as possible. Let your coworkers know that you are aspiring to move into development.

Ask for a meeting with your manager, and frankly tell them that you’d like to move into a software development role and that you are willing to do whatever it takes to get there. When you talk about this goal with your manager, make sure you discuss how your testing background will benefit the company when you eventually move into a programmer role.

Talk about the benefits your company will gain from you making the transition.

The more it is known that you want to move into a software development role, the more you’ll start to chip away at the bias people might have about keeping you in your current role, so don’t be afraid to openly talk about it.

When you do have this conversation with your manager, see if you can get a list of requirements or a course you can take that will move you from your current role to one working as a software developer.

If you can nail down a list of things you need to learn or milestones you need to achieve, you can create a much more solid case for making the transition, when you are ready.

I’ve used this exact technique, so my manager knew that he has a potential resource, So next time when my project needed a developer with handlebar experience (there was no handlebar experienced resource available in the project), instead of taking resource from outside, he gave me that opportunity. That's how I got my first project as a Software developer.

During that project tenure, I got a chance to showcase my potential. I implemented the modules with proper design patterns and best practices. After that project, I got selected into a react.js project as a software developer. And meanwhile, they changed my discipline/domain officially.

Since then I am working as a Software Developer.

Conclusion

If you are thinking about changing roles, then one of the key pieces of advice is to prepare ahead of time, work out areas and tasks that you can work on before actually making the role change to try and make it easier for the first few months in your transition.

Having reached the end of this article, I’m sure you would have learned something here. Keep learning, keep improving your skills, keep looking for opportunities and making your own and you’ll get what you are after.