What would you say you do here?

What would you say you do here?

When people ask me what I do I usually try to avoid the question. Sometimes I try to come up with a witty response but normally I just say “I don’t want to talk about work”. I avoid the question because: I feel like it’s hard to explain what I do, the company name isn’t well known, what I do is nerdy, its not the most exciting job in the world, and did I mention that what I do is nerdy?

So here it is. This is what I do.

I am a Quality Assurance Analyst for a small software company in Renton that creates 3D design sales tools for closet and storage design.  Basically I try to represent the user and find defects in the program. I sit in front of a computer all day (actually multiple computers) in a cubicle looking for bugs in the software. I also spend time creating test plans and researching what new features are going in the version. It can be boring at times but I like the aspect of needing to be organized and detail oriented. Also its pretty exciting to find bugs – especially ones that crash the program, those are my favorite!

I started working at this company right out of college (6 years ago). I worked there for a couple of years and then decided I wanted to work for a larger company that had better benefits and the possibility to move up in the company. I ended up interviewing and getting a job in the IT department at Alaska Airlines. I worked on the Flight Operations team and worked on programs that helped dispatchers, plane weight and balance, delay coding and fun stuff like that. I loved working there and not just because I could fly for free! I loved everything about airplanes so working on software that supported the day to day operations was very exciting! In the year and a half I worked there I was asked about 3 times by my old company to come back and eventually the offer became good enough that I couldn’t refuse. Alaska counter-offered but my decision had been made.

It was a good move because I would have the ability to work a more flexible schedule as well as part time if we decided to have a family. So I went back. Going back was really good but really bad all at the same time. I was so sad to leave Alaska – I cried every day for weeks when I would drive by my old office.  It was on the way to work. I wasn’t stalking them. I promise. I am glad to be back to my old company though. I have more responsibility and love the applications that I am working on. It also worked out because now that we have a baby I am only working 30 hours a week.

I didn’t know how it would be to work and have a baby. I didn’t know if I would want to stay home all time time. I dreaded going back to work after my 12 week maternity leave. I was scared and didn’t know how I would balance work, baby, home, and life. Typical Salli-style I had a major meltdown. Typical Patrick-style he calmly and lovingly supported me and suggested that I should go back and try it for a few months and if it wasn’t working I could be done. There is childcare in my building so that was super convenient – Hunter just came to and from work with me and I could visit/feed him at any time during the day! I decided to work three 9 hour days in the office and the other 3 hours at home. (Actually now that I think about it when I first went back things were a bit crazy. There was a huge project that needed more of my time so I worked 40 hours a week for the first month. It wasn’t too bad and that told me that I was going to be able to make this all work out.)

Anyway if you were to ask me 10 years ago where I thought I’d be this wouldn’t have been it. I never saw myself doing a nerdy job. I never saw myself working by choice after having a baby. I never saw myself as someone that companies would want as an employee. I wanted to be a stay at home mom. Maybe at some point I will decide that staying at home is the right thing for me but right now it isn’t. The 12 weeks I was home on maternity leave were extremely difficult. That’s a whole different story for a different post.

Funny how life works out sometimes.

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4 Responses »

  1. My instinctive response when people ask me what I do (like if they ask “what do you do”) is to respond “your mom”. But that’s kind of my instinctive response to everything.

    When I was a software tester, I just liked to tell people that I break things and other people have to fix them. I know lots of people try to make their jobs sound way more interesting than they are, but mine really wasn’t. The company was interesting and super cool, but my job? Not so much. I mean, people (within the company) viewed it as important and stuff, but it was super boring anyway. So I think I just said, “I’m a software tester, I break things and other people have to fix them. I work for blah blah blah company” and actually spent more time describing the company than my job, because it was way more interesting.

  2. I was a Quality Assurance Analyst once! It was a contract position at Amazon.com but it was totally lame because the majority of my time spent was just data entry, even though it was like data entry with analysis and requiring knowledge of how websites work. I did get to spend 30 minutes writing a macro in Excel VBA to make my data entry 100 times faster, but once that was over it was still monotony, just much faster and more productive monotony. Meh.
    So glad I am not a contractor anymore! QA is part of my job but primarily I am an Application Support Analyst so I do a little software support, a little QA and testing, a little development and configuration, a little SharePoint training, a little project management… not a lot of monotony here! Yay.

  3. Oh I am not saying that QA jobs are monotonous, just the one I had. That is probably why they contracted it out, lol! After I left Amazon apparently they hired 200 people in India to use my macro do what me and 7 others were doing in Seattle, lol.

  4. Since I have your previous job at Alaska, I tell people I’m a button pusher and that usually stops them because then they think I’m just a slacker. I’m okay with that. :)

    If they keep asking questions, then I say my mom and dad support me. Because I’m too lazy to explain what a QA does.

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