Roman Shcherbakov reached a ceiling as a Project Manager for a flooring company in Portland, Oregon. Ready to pivot into a more fulfilling and lucrative career, he explored his options in quality assurance (QA) by enrolling at Careerist’s Manual QA bootcamp. With Careerist’s Income Share Agreement, Roman was able to attend the online bootcamp at low-cost upfront and pay back tuition after he landed his first QA role at Nike. Roman shares how he juggled the Manual QA bootcamp while working full-time, and how he grew from a Manual QA Engineer at Nike to an Automated QA Engineer at Tesla in the two years since graduating from Careerist.
What inspired you to launch a career in Manual QA?
In Russia, I graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics. I came to the US in 2015 where I worked in construction and later as a project manager at a flooring company where I helped facilitate the jobs between the crews and ensured smooth operation of projects. I knew that studying Software QA was a career option for me, but I wasn't sure if it was what I wanted to do. By 2019, I saw there was no room for me to grow at the flooring company, and I wanted to make more money and grow professionally. That’s what made me start researching Software QA bootcamps.
What stood out about Careerist’s Manual QA bootcamp in your research?
When I found Careerist (then called JobEasy), I liked that they offered an Income Share Agreement (ISA). With the ISA, if I didn't find a job after the program, I wouldn't have to pay the tuition. If I did find a job, I would pay back the tuition with a certain percentage of my salary. The ISA sounded and still sounds fair to me. I wasn't sure if this career path was right for me, so having that option gave me peace of mind. Having the safety of this option helped me pivot into this new career. Worst case scenario, I didn’t find a job, and then I'd only lose the $500 registration fee.
Did you feel like you had to know basic coding in order to apply to Careerist?
No and I still didn't know how to code when I finished the Manual QA course! Coding is not required to work as a Quality Assurance Engineer.
What did the Manual QA bootcamp curriculum cover at Careerist?
The Manual QA curriculum at Careerist covered a variety of topics. We learned about:
Careerist also provides additional courses for free after graduation. In my first job, I needed to know API testing and Careerist offered me three lessons that covered content that helped me on my first job.
What is the difference between Manual QA and Automated QA?
Automated QA requires coding knowledge, a deep knowledge of back end operations, and a foundation of manual QA in order to automate and write scripts to run tests automatically. Automation does not require as much coding knowledge as app developers, but a foundation in coding is essential. Manual QA is repetitive work that is slightly less challenging that doesn’t require coding.
Automation is more complicated but that's what I like about it! It makes my brain work and I like to solve puzzles. Writing code is kind of like solving a puzzle as you figure out how to tell a machine to do something that you want it to do.
How did you juggle working full-time while completing the Manual QA bootcamp?
The bootcamp takes focus, concentration, and dedication, but juggling it while working is doable. The program is only 4-6 weeks long, so it’s possible to find the time if you want to. I attended as many online classes as I could and knew that if I missed a class, I would be able to watch it the next day during time off or a lunch break at my job. The schedule is pretty flexible that way.
Did you like the teaching style of the bootcamp?
I appreciated the teaching style at Careerist. I usually had quite a few questions during the class. I could ask them online in the chat and the teacher would always answer them in every lesson, which was helpful to fill the gaps and an efficient way for me to learn.
What is the online community like at Careerist? Were you able to connect with your cohort online during the bootcamp?
We had access to Slack for each project where we could ask questions to the group and where the Careerist teachers, specialists, and other students with more experience would answer. We were able to communicate and express our opinions between ourselves. I had a lot of private messages with other students where we'd discuss how the course and job search were going.
Careerist offers students an internship — What was your internship experience like?
The internship is not mandatory but it's highly recommended. It usually takes 2-3 weeks max to get the gist of it, and while you’re learning, you get hands-on Manual QA experience. During the internship, Careerist assigns you to a real project with a real company. I worked on two projects for startup companies that were developing apps.
For example: In the internship, you would have to write 20 test cases and then use a page or feature on that project and test and file any bugs you find. When you're done you can go on to the next task until you feel comfortable and confident with what you're doing.
Did Careerist continue to support you during your internship?
There was always one moderator from Careerist managing the students and one person from that project’s QA team, such as a Senior QA, who would gather info, see what's going on, and ask questions. Other people attending were students from the internship.
How many hours a week did you work at the internship? Is this a paid internship?
The internship is part of the bootcamp, so you don't have to pay to participate and Careerist doesn’t pay students for it. It took about 1-2 hours a day, plus a 15 minute meeting around noon where everyone shared progress reports. Since I was still working, I completed my internship when it was slow at my office or during my off hours.
Looking back, did this internship experience help you land a Manual QA job after bootcamp graduation?
Absolutely. The internship offers real experience which definitely helped in interviews. When I went through interviews I was able to talk about my experience with that internship: what I did in the real-world and how I dealt with issues.
How did Careerist prepare you for the job hunt?
Job prep was built into the Careerist curriculum, where we were introduced to the job market, how to prepare our resume, how to navigate the job search, and how to go through an interview. Careerist staff are experts in the industry and they know what HR and recruiters look for on a resume, so they helped a lot with my resume prep, building it the way recruiters want to see it.
They also mentored us through mock interviews, both for automation and manual QA, which helped me gain confidence and feel less stressed in the real interview. Thanks to this career training, I knew what questions would be asked and how to answer them. We could take mock interviews as many times as we wanted.
Which roles did you feel qualified to apply for after graduating from the Manual QA bootcamp?
Careerist prepares bootcampers for mid-level QA Engineer roles. However, when I joined Nike and told them what I could do, they considered it senior-level QA quality!
What was your first job after bootcamp?
My first Manual QA job after the bootcamp was at Nike, here in Portland, OR. It took me about two months to land this job, and I was searching for roles on LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Indeed, etc. I made connections with Careerist recruiters, one of whom emailed me with an opening at Nike, asking if I was interested. I decided to give it a try.
What was the interview process like at Nike?
I passed the interview with Nike’s Career Lead, then (since it was early 2020) I passed an onsite interview with that QA Lead and Manager. Nike gave me a technical assessment for Manual QA and asked me to write a test case for a feature. It was a simple test, asking me to write a test scenario, how I would test, and asked to find bugs on a page.
Can you still reach out to Careerist for career support after graduation?
I really appreciate that Careerist supports their graduates after graduation. When I was interviewing at Nike, I spoke with the Careerist team during the interview process, and they helped me answer my questions about the test assignment. Careerist is always there to answer my questions, even now when I’m on the job! I always know I could email, call, or DM someone in the graduates chat and get a quick response.
You’re now working in QA automation — How did you go from Manual QA to Automated QA?
I was also interested in automation because I thought Manual QA was pretty easy and I wanted more of a challenge. Careerist advised me to go through Manual QA, get a job, work there for six months to get a taste of the IT world and how IT companies operate, and then start learning automation. That was great advice, because jumping right into automation after learning Manual QA would’ve probably blown my mind! After I worked at Nike for a bit, I enrolled in Careerist’s QA Automation course, which was longer and more complicated. The Automation course covers coding, and I learned Python.
Do you recommend Careerist’s QA Automation course to other people looking to upskill?
I definitely recommend taking Careerist’s QA Automation course. It’s immersive with lots of homework, the teachers are super helpful, and you can ask lots of questions. I enjoyed the automation course more than manual QA because I like coding more.
And you’re now a Quality Assurance Automation Engineer at Tesla! How did you get the job?
After some studying, I was able to apply my skills at Nike to build my own automation framework and create an automation case. I started looking for automation opportunities within and outside Nike. And I had a few interviews with different companies, one of them was Tesla. I passed the interview and technical interview, so now I do contract work as a Quality Assurance Automation Engineer for Tesla!
What kinds of projects are you working on at Tesla?
Tesla does more than cars — they also work on solar roofs and solar power! I’m working on that side of Tesla, on a project that helps to schedule appointments for installations and service work regarding the solar panels or solar roofs. I help automate steps and test steps that automate that process. Our team is working on automating that process and shortening the time-frame between the order and the installation.
Are you using everything you learned at Careerist on the job?
What are some things you’ve learned about working in IT?
A major part of IT is learning on the job. At Nike, I had to learn a lot on the fly, and when I joined Tesla, I was able to learn on the fly again. I've heard from others in IT that each time you join a new company, you'll have to learn new content. You'll feel like you don't know anything but you just learn it!
Careerist gave me the idea that if they hired you, they saw your potential and think you're a good fit, and they might not care that you don't know certain technical aspects of the work or the tools they're using. Your employer sees that you're capable of learning and they want you to be with them and they are okay with waiting for you to learn.
Are you glad that you signed up for the ISA with Careerist?
I did the ISA for the Manual QA program but I paid upfront for the Automation course. If you don't know what you're stepping into, you're not sure if Manual QA is something you want to do, and you're not sure if you're good with technical stuff, the ISA is the way to go. But if you already know you want to be in IT, you know you want to make that money, grow in the field, and are already good with technical aspects like reading code or data, I recommend paying upfront.
You’re a few years into your QA career now — Is enrolling at Careerist still worth it for you? Has it been worth it as an investment?
Oh yeah, absolutely! When I started the Manual QA job my salary jumped 1.6x! Now that I'm in automation it's more than twice what I made before joining any IT company. Moneywise, QA is really good, but you have to negotiate to get paid what you’re worth. Companies will try to low-ball and offer low rates. At my first QA job, the first rate they offered me was $8 less an hour than my final offer! Don't be afraid to negotiate, even if you just came out of a bootcamp. People think $25/hr is okay and immediately agree because it's the first thing they got offered. You should negotiate and wait for a better offer.
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