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A career change from Genetic Technologist to Senior Software Tester - Proof that women are shaking things up in tech

Written by Razor
Published on
Senior Software Tester Zoe made the move to tech from her role as a Genetic Technologist. She shares why she's caught the "bug" for technology and has never looked back.

It might come as a surprise, but the sole purpose of software testing isn’t actually to break things (shock horror, we know) – it’s about creating the best possible product for its intended users.

All well, and good. But it got us thinking… What does that involve? Where on earth do you start?

Do you know what? Once upon a time our team mate Zoe wasn’t so clear on those answers either. Why would she be, as a trained genetic technologist? But a big hop, skip and jump into the tech sector later, and she’s perfectly placed to reveal all…

Hi, Zoe! Let’s get straight into it – what do you do?

I'm a Senior Software Tester.

Nice. And what did you do in your previous (professional) life?

I did my undergrad at the University of Sheffield in Genetics and Molecular Cell Biology and a Masters in Human Molecular Genetics. After graduating, I worked for a company in Nottingham doing genetic testing on embryos for IVF implantation, and then I was a genetic technologist in a children’s hospital in Sheffield.

Although I liked the work I wanted to do something a bit more technical, so I started looking for tech roles – and that’s when I found Razor. They had a role in testing and even though I didn’t have any formal experience in tech, I thought a lot of the skills I already had would transfer quite well. I guess they did, because I’ve been with Razor ever since!

That’s awesome. But we’ve got to know, why tech?

In science, especially in a diagnostic background, there's a lot of red tape and you are very restricted in what you can and can’t do. If you want to change something and make it better, you’re in for a long journey to get there. In tech though? You can just do it straightaway and people will support you and offer their time and effort to help you make that change.

Okay, one for the masses – how would you describe what you do as a software tester?

It's working with developers and users to create the best possible product for who it's intended for. So, that’s not necessarily ticking checkboxes to say ‘this and this works’, but also thinking how someone else might use it. Everybody sees things differently, so we have to act as those people, imagining how they would approach the software we’ve created.

As a team, we’re in the business of pushing the boat forward – we’re definitely not trying to make the developers look bad – we just want everyone to create the best stuff they can.

Agreed! Now, time to spill the beans, are there any exciting projects or innovations you’ve worked on – that aren’t top secret of course?

We worked with a company called Fixe 3D who build 3D models for architects. We created a model editor which was a lot of fun to test. It was completely different to our other projects – being able to edit models in an app, changing the colours and the materials they use… And then viewing them in 3D to see what that product would look like in real life.

Enthusiasm for tech is obviously part of the job description, but which non-tech skills have helped you during these amazing projects?

The most important one for me is just generally being analytical and curious. As a scientist you become quite sceptical – unless you have a lot of evidence for something, you can’t just believe it and take it as it is. If someone tells you something is a certain way you want to see that for yourself and make sure it actually works. And I think that’s the basis of testing really – you don't just assume something is right straight off the bat!

Ooh, sounds challenging but super interesting. What else do you love about working in tech?

I love seeing the end product and how it improves people's work-life efficiency. Oh, the fact that I work with a load of talented people who are just so knowledgeable in so many areas of life! I’m constantly learning from them and we’re just always doing something cool – one week we might be working on a normal website and the next, we’re testing something on a HoloLens…It's brilliant.

So, this one is for the people who don’t like what they’re doing at the moment… Why should they consider working in tech?

I think that tech is a place for everyone. It sounds super cheesy but there's so many different personalities and skills that no matter what you do here, there's a role for you. In fact it’s those differences that make us so great – we have a bit of everything! It really is a place for everyone with any interests and skills.

Thanks, though it’s too late for us haha! Any words of advice for newcomers?

From a technical point of view, I’d suggest making a GitHub account and just having a play around on that… It’s not specific to testing but it’s a great way to show your interest. I also did an advanced Python course at uni and we made a little web app which gave you recipe ideas based on the ingredients you had left in your fridge. It wasn’t perfect and the design was terrible, but it was a good way to show Razor that I was interested in tech!

And that’s the thing, Razor is more concerned with hiring the right person rather than the right experience. They give everyone the chance to learn what they need to and get up to speed. I worked my way through the ‘Razor University’ course when I first joined, which gave me the chance to get to grips with different sides of the business, before working with clients. And that’s another great thing – I’m not restricted to testing forevermore – if I’d like to explore other aspects of the business, they’ll support me with that.

Love it! This is a big one… What does innovation mean to you?

It’s all about not settling, in everything you do. You can’t worry about failing, you just have to focus on making things better, whether that’s trying to make a certain meeting more efficient or building an app for architects to model their work.

Any last words?

To be honest, I could never ever go back. My parents always say to me, ‘Oh, do you think you'll ever do anything in genetics again?’ and I'm like, ‘Nope. No way. I'm not leaving. I'm not leaving this.’

Enter the world of tech at your own risk – you have been warned!

Ready to make the jump into tech? Discover our current vacancies here.