Just over a month ago, I applied for a job at Realtime Worlds in Dundee, as a Software Test Engineer. It's the first job I've actually applied for in almost five years; when I quit University I started working in a callcentre in Belfast and through a series of contract changes moved into software testing.
Games Tester is one of those jobs that everybody who's ever played games dreams about getting. It sounds like a fantastic way to earn a living - you're paid for playing videogames all day, right? And it's a great door into the industry if you really want to do something else instead.
Although an insurance website is a far cry from entertainment software, I've been thinking more and more seriously about trying to move into games QA since I started testing here in Belfast. It's broken a lot of my misconceptions about testing in general and I know for a fact that without the benefit of the experience I've gotten in these three years I wouldn't have had the confidence to apply for the job.
On top of that, I quite enjoy testing. One of my favourite things about progarmming always was how to solve problems, and there's a lot of the same mindset needed for testing. Taking what's required and working out what should be provided by the software, as well as what shouldn't. I like working in QA, although the environment I'm currently working in is starting to get to me, and the variety of applications just isn't large enough. I've been staring at the same few screens for almost the entire three years, and it's just getting frustrating.
So, for the sake of a change of scenery in my professional life, and partly just to see if I could get another job (not a good idea to stake my entire reserve of self-confidence on this job application, but I did anyway) I decided to apply to Realtime Worlds.
I'd played Crackdown, of course. I'd never have looked on their website if I hadn't. I opened the Careers section on a whim; I'd never seen QA jobs actually advertised on a company website before, I assumed this would have the same "coders, artists, send in your CVs!".
That they not only had QA positions open, but ones that I could apply for without feeling like I was stretching plausiblity, was something of a revelation. It took me a couple of months to dust off and polish my CV and write a cover letter (which turned out to be what got my application a second look), and before I knew it I'd been sent a C# coding questionnaire (which scared the shit out of me, considering I'd not used object-oriented languages in five years) and then given a phone interview.
I had a face-to-face interview just over two weeks ago, and an hour ago got a call from the Realtime Worlds HR department offering me the job, with a significant increase (~9%) on my current salary.
Now I just need to serve my month's notice... and hand in my resignation first, obviously.
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