I had the great good fortune lately of being awarded an Outreachy internship with Wikimedia (the group that creates the software behind Wikipedia and other wikis). I’ll be working with the Wikimedia QA group, helping them to increase test coverage for various product features – and this blog will chart my progress!
A technical writer for most of my career, I was looking to try new things and expand my skill set. I was really drawn to this project – but hesitant to apply, since I had no formal background whatsoever in testing. It’s not that I thought I had nothing to offer! It’s just that, in my experience, most people in charge of staffing a position – even an internship position – are looking for very specific credentials; interest, enthusiasm and potential don’t cut it!
Well, that sure isn’t the mind-set of the mentors for this Wikimedia project. Their goal is to give people a learning experience, and they aim to be inclusive. I reached out to one of them (Elena) to see if they’d consider someone with my background, and she was very welcoming and encouraging. She was confident that the skills I’d developed as a technical writer could be useful in a testing context. And so I dove in!
The way Outreachy internship applications work, you spend some time actually working on tasks within your chosen project before submitting your final application. This gives you a chance to “test drive” the project and see if it’s a good fit. It’s hard to describe how rewarding this period was for me. My previous experience exploring software, reading specs, and writing procedures certainly DID come in handy as I wrote my first-ever test cases – and I was ecstatic when I ran them and found my first bug! Then came learning about how to write a good bug report. In fact, it’s surprising how much you can learn just by exploring one of these projects for a few weeks – whether or not you go on to complete the full internship. If you’re considering applying, I say go for it!