Meet our Academy Consultants – Charlie Jones

a team of young IT workers

Read how Charlie started his career through the Ten10 Academy and has continued to grow through his first year working in IT

Working in tech offers plenty of different opportunities to grow and develop new skills. For those who attend our Ten10 Academy, that doesn’t stop once they’ve left our training. Being placed onto client work means learning from teams in a new environment, as well as fellow Academy Consultants who share your placement.

Meet Charlie Jones, who joined us in 2022 and has learnt all of his tech skills from scratch. He’s about to complete his second client placement, so we wanted to catch up with him and learn more about his career transformation journey.

How do you feel you’ve transitioned from the Ten10 Academy to your client work?

I was new to tech, so the Academy was brand new for me. I did a little bit of a Python course leading up to my training, but nothing massive. I had done a Psychology with Forensics degree beforehand which had a little bit of stats in it, but nothing really tech-based.

In the beginning, it felt like a bit of a daunting experience moving away from the Academy to the client. But I found after the first week or so I was fairly well settled in. There were some guys from Ten10 already on site and they were really helpful with getting me started and getting me running with everything there.

The Academy definitely had some great information for getting you started with all the different aspects of tech, because you don’t know exactly what you’re going to go into until you’re signed to your client, and I think that’s part of what I found a little bit daunting. However, it’s one of those things you just have to take in your stride and the client knows what they’re getting from you and the Academy so they’re willing to help get you started. The great team I started with was also definitely a big plus.

Take us through your placement – what client teams have you worked with and what specific projects have you been responsible for during your placement?

I’ve been with two clients in about 18 months now. The first one was in the financial sector and it was a hybrid role in insurance. I moved down near to where the community was based and did a couple of days in the office a week. There were two or three guys from Ten10 in my immediate team and we were doing data testing. It was an agile setup so we’d have stand-ups but our main work was the data testing and then a little bit of manual testing. We learned about data creation and the end-to-end process of what we were doing. We were using a lot of SQL, writing and amending queries to get data and go through data testing; using a lot of different tools. But it all progressed and as that all rounded out, we flexed on some of the workflows and did some manual testing and little bits of smoke testing here and there. I worked there for around a year.

I then moved up to my second client that I’m with now. They’re a retailer and I work on their e-commerce site. This was a lot more manual testing-based, so I started with scripting and writing a bank of tests, and then we moved on to the execution which we’re in now. It’s been a lot of working with stakeholders and business users in this one more so than at my last client site and it brings up those interpersonal skills. We started doing standalone testing here but it’s expanded into end-to-end testing for all their back-end sites.

What parts of the Ten10 Academy training have been most useful in your placement?

My knowledge of the different styles of tests has been useful when I’ve been on client sites, and I’ve gone in knowing if it’s data testing or manual testing, but other types normally crop up too.

We’ve done smoke tests and others, and just having that flat base of knowledge all across the board is really useful for knowing different terms or at least remembering something from the Academy and being able to go away and check out what it is. That broad knowledge is great because I’ve used a lot of the different tests and types.

Going through the agile methodologies was super helpful so you know what’s expected of you during stand-ups. Also the soft skills and other parts that go into BA, just talking to business users to clarify different criteria and objectives has been super useful. All the Ten10 people when I started were super helpful with bringing me up to speed or helping if I had questions. Just jumping on a call with them for five minutes to go through stuff has been great. It feels like you’re going into your client with a platform already there.

What is a normal working day or week for you?

At the moment I’m fully remote and working from home. My morning will normally start with a small catch-up with what we did yesterday and a stand-up with my immediate team. We talk over any key blockers for the day and what the plan for today is. At the moment, we’re doing a lot of test execution, so we’ve done mostly scripting and we’re just going to execute tests over quite a few different work streams.

There have been a few blockers so we’re jumping between workstreams which is quite nice as it gives you a bit of variety. We’re currently doing the back-end systems so it’s a lot of reports from 365 Business Central. That’s sort of the main bulk of the day. We have a couple of set meetings a week that are for the department, and that will be one of those large-scale calls to go over the things that are blocking testing as a whole, how the projects go in and our targets. For those who are from Ten10, the project is slowing down because we finish in a couple of weeks and we’ll be going on to a new placement. We’re getting ready to do handover documents and things like that.

There are always the occasional small tasks to pick up in the day as well – you might have script amendments for previously scripted things that might have changed or weren’t quite right. If there’s data creation that needs to be done, you do [it] ad-hoc as you’re going along.

Sometimes we have more calls thrown in which affects your time a little bit but I found my client manager is really good with knowing what the priority is. If I know I’m not gonna have time for anything, it’s very easy to work down the list and get as far as I can, and prioritisation is given from the client to know what they want, to bring the right things to the top of the list.

Have your role and/or responsibilities changed during your time on placement? How have you handled the change?

With both my clients I’d say the role has definitely expanded. I’m still testing and I’m doing a little bit of BA work working with stakeholders. But when I started for my current client, I mentioned earlier that I’ve gone from doing the standalone tests to working end-to-end, so it’s a more holistic process. I think that your responsibilities are built up over time when you work with the client and you develop your abilities, getting used to their systems. If they trust your ability to do your work they’ll start giving you more, and as you start understanding more, you can do more.

With my previous client, about six months in there was a period where the Scrum Master was unavailable. I took up and delivered and drove some stand-ups, so that was definitely something that I think is a higher-level responsibility. It sort of comes naturally as well and in my experience, clients are happy to follow your pace with a lot of your work.

What technology, tools, frameworks, and processes have you gained experience with since starting client work?

I have gained experience from a fairly broad spectrum, especially between my two different clients as they’ve used quite different tools. So even from ticket management, it was Azure DeVops for my first client and now we’re using Jira, which is quite nice because I know different technologies suit different clients. At my previous client, I frequently used the SQL Server Management Studio as well. It’s good to have a bit of a broader understanding of different tools for future work I may do.

Currently, our test management system is a tool called Tuska which I think is a bit less well-known and not used as often, which has definitely been different. It’s mainly for focusing and making those banks of tests. There are also little tools that pop up now and then such as BrowserStack, PowerBI and a bunch of different Azure tools which I might do a little bit of work on and then jump back off. I have used Visual Studio Code between projects, such as an automation project I did and jumping back into what I learned in the Academy, such as Visual Studio Code and C#.

How has your client supported your development?

Both my clients have been super helpful with supporting me from the beginning, and continuously throughout my placements. There are always opportunities for sessions about things I’m not too sure about. I found that they like you to know that surrounding knowledge a lot of the time because it will help you later down the line.

Beyond that, calls and chats are frequently used for questions and things that they are happy to answer. With my previous client, I had access to a Pluralsight account which I could do courses on. That was extremely useful as I could do courses in things that weren’t directly involved with what I was doing currently, so obviously I could look into what was directly related but also things that I was just sort of interested in around that.

What support have you received from Ten10 during your placement?

The Communities of Practice group at Ten10 has chat channels which are great for asking questions, and there are a bunch of different ones for different areas of tech. Every couple weeks I have meetings with my Ten10 managers and they are really good if I have any issues in client work, or just as a general “how’s it going?” conversation, which is a nice opportunity to raise any points that you might not raise if you just didn’t have those calls.

Day-to-day, I think the most helpful influence at Ten10 comes from the people I’m working with on [the] client site, and my buddies in the mentor program. One of them is working on the client site and is always happy to jump on a call to answer questions. We are also given the opportunity to hold Lunch and Learns, which is a great way to pass on the knowledge I may have learnt from a client, making it a little bit easier for the next people in line for client work. I’ve signed up to host one soon which I am really looking forward to.

Have you been given any extra opportunities through your client work?

As I mentioned before, the Pluralsight access was a really good opportunity to do those extra courses, and my client was happy to fund those. There are great opportunities from a social aspect as well, which has always been good from both client sites and Ten10. They put on great socials where you can meet new people and network, making those connections and having fun at the same time. At most of my client sites, there’s always some sort of charity event going on in the background. It might be a bake sale in the office or a walk or run, and they’re super happy for you to get involved with those.

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