Sam started his placement with Webexpenses in 2019 during his second year at Abingdon and Witney College. During that time, his course switched to a T Level qualification. After an initial phone conversation and a visit to the office, Sam joined in the autumn to start his placement.
Sam describes himself as “a bit of a computer geek” and has always been interested in technology. He studied computer science at GCSE level, built his own computer, and enrolled at Abingdon and Witney College to study computing and IT.
Sam's placement at Webexpenses
Getting to grips with the software
When Sam first started he was given an overview of the whole organisation to give him a better understanding of what we do and how all the departments work together.
Soon after, he started working with the Webonboarding product team to gain a more in-depth look at the system to improve his knowledge. His arrival into the team coincided with work on a new piece of system functionality being developed for the Webonboarding system and Sam was tasked with working on this.
Sam was given examples of how to test the software and a demonstration site that he could practice on. This work involved speaking to other people in the business to check that what was being deployed would meet the required standards of prospective clients.
Testing the Webexpenses system
He then moved on to testing other areas of the system. As he grew in confidence, he came in more direct contact with Software Developers. Sam began working side by side with the System Architect giving him more exposure to the development process.
Soon after, he was introduced to software testing and shown how to run his own system build locally where he could see the latest version. As his placements were in two-week blocks it meant that he was able to test on continuous days. This is vital to Webexpenses as it means that as soon as testing is complete the code can be deployed into the live system environment.
Sam’s placement coincided with the development of the new user interface (UI). He worked on this project alongside the Product Owner and Graphic Designer and gained more exposure to the software lifecycle and communicating with different teams.
Some of Sam's course content helped him during his placement. Sam mentions how human-computer interaction was helpful as it gave him an appreciation of how clients use the system and a better view of what’s most relevant and useful to them.
Working as a Software Tester
In the summer of 2020, Webexpenses had a maternity cover vacancy in our QA team for a Software Tester. Sam was the first person contacted to see if he would be interested in coming to work for us.
We asked Sam what the role of a Software Tester is.
“I look at the system to check that it works in the way it’s intended and expected to. I have to pick it apart and make it not work, as though the end-user will use it [the system] in unexpected ways. My job is to break it and find the bugs before the customer does.”
Once an issue has been found, Sam reports it back to the Developers. They then fix the issue and hand it back to Sam to perform the same test scenario. This is called Regression Testing; where only part of the system is tested.
“This is where I need to make sure that the functionality which was working before a fix is still working and hasn’t been broken in the process of the fix.”
In his role, Sam uses a variety of different systems including:
- Intellij: a development environment to run a local copy of the software. He can see the latest system updates before they are fully tested
- Azure DevOps: used to follow the move from Waterfall to the Agile development of Webonboarding. With this, Sam is learning the Agile methodology and is involved in the sprints
- Postman for API: (Application Programming Interface) testing
- pgAdmin (a Postgre SQL tool) to run database scripts for his local build
Qualifying as a Software Tester
In 2021, Sam passed his Software Tester certification exam, ISTQB Foundation. This is a course all Webexpenses Software Testers complete and for Sam, it gave him an opportunity to build on his existing knowledge and learn the professional standard for the job.
Throughout his placement, Sam was learning on the job alongside experienced colleagues but he now has the benefit of learning in a more formal environment and as he says, “I have the qualification to show for it.”
He can now apply this formal learning into his day to day role and it’s also given him a better appreciation of why regression testing is so important.
The transition to a permanent role
Sam was offered a permanent position with us once his fixed-term contract had ended. Since the summer of 2021, he has been working as a QA Executive in Webexpenses' Software Testing team.
“Completing the placement showed me what it’s like to work as a Software Tester. When I got the offer it was back to a place I knew. Everyone’s really friendly and it was too good an offer to pass up. I really enjoy it.”
What advice would Sam give to other students?
“I would recommend anyone to take a placement. It’s focussed on the T Level course and the experience is more in-depth, structured, and you get more involved. Being involved with the system means that you have a direct impact on the client.”