Recently, an internship for Junior QA specialists was completed in the QA department at JET BI. That was the first experience in the department and in our opinion really successful, so we want to share our emotions and impressions from that experience in the company.
The idea of the internship arose from the need for a Junior QA specialist.
The interview process had a number of drawbacks, since our company works in the field of Salesforce, this imposes some features on itself. In Eastern Europe, Salesforce is only gaining popularity, so it is quite difficult and often even impossible to find a highly qualified specialist in this field. Employees have to train Salesforce from scratch and grow their own staff, while the platform is truly vast and complex. It takes a lot of time to train, which occupies a significant part of the trial period that every employee in the company goes through. We have already found ourselves in a situation where at the end of the trial period a person left, because Salesforce doesn’t suit him due to the complexity of the platform, while the time was spent and there is no way to return it, and that is an additional risk for the company, which is very difficult to insure against.
If we sum up, the main issues that we saw for ourselves in the interview process are the following:
Time - in a week, the department employees could spend from 5 to 20 hours conducting interviews.
Patterns - in fact, all interviews are somehow kept to a certain template both in the process and in the questions asked at the interview, so often candidates are prepared to answer any question or task. It isn’t possible to check the real knowledge “in action".
Domain complexity - as mentioned above, we had no guarantee that a person at the end of the trial period would want to continue working with Salesforce, which, in fact, is a blind investment for us.
Various attempts were made to solve this number of problems: test tasks, constant changes in questions at interviews, and holding one-to-one meetings during the trial period. Unfortunately, we were not able to solve all the problems. Sometimes, by solving one issue, we could worsen another.
One of the observations was taken from practice and prompted the idea of holding an internship. This observation includes that on the initial stage, when it is necessary to train new employees to work with Salesforce, they are all on equal terms, and it doesn’t matter what level they have - junior, middle, senior, or a person who has just got into the IT-sphere. This is in principle true for any domain sphere.
The main items that needed to be considered before starting the internship:
- The format of the event.
- Recruitment for an internship.
- Organizational aspects.
- The internship plan and program.
The format of the event
We decided on the format quite quickly: for more than a year, the company's employees have been working remotely. Many people are already used to this format, and, moreover, all the processes and interactions within the team have been debugged, so it was decided that the internship will be conducted online.
Recruitment for an internship
Recruitment for the internship was planned to be carried out through advertising on the corporate website, on LinkedIn, as well as on other platforms and social networks. But the decision came by itself, due to the fact that the interview bandwidth in the company isn’t so high: for 2 months we have accumulated 400+ replies to the Junior QA vacancy, so we sent letters to all applicants with a form and an invitation to an internship. As a result, in 2 weeks, 117 out of 400+ people responded to the internship offer, from which 12 people were selected, and they confirmed their participation.
Before starting the internship, it was necessary to solve a number of organizational issues. The main ones were:
- Access to corporate systems;
- access to real company’s projects;
- coaching and interaction format.
Since the internship affected not only the introduction to Salesforce but also the testing process in this system, it was decided to organize access to the Jira corporate task management system, as well as to the Xray test management system, thereby expanding training and introducing processes within the company.
At one of the stages of the internship, it was planned to test the real company’s project, so all interns were sent and signed the NDA.
6 people from the QA department were involved in the internship: 4 curators led interns at the initial stages, 2 at the last stage. Each curator held 2-3 meetings a week with interns. The meetings were necessary for consultations and answers to questions that appeared during the tasks’ execution.
At the end of each stage, curators had to check the propriety and correctness of the completed tasks and determine whether the trainee was allowed to the next stage or not.
The internship plan and program
The most difficult at that time was the internship program and timing. The tasks had to be chosen so that the interns would get the maximum knowledge about Salesforce in the minimum time, as well as get acquainted with the processes within the department, test management, and task management systems of the company.
The fact that Salesforce has its own Trailhead Playground training platform has significantly simplified the issue.
As a result, the internship took place in 3 stages:
The main task of the first stage was introducing the Salesforce system, as well as teaching how to work with Jira (task design, communication, and following workflow).
The first stage lasted a week. The trainees passed a basic set of training modules on the Trailhead Playground platform. They reflected their progress on tasks in Jira. Usually, this set of modules is passed by all employees of the QA department on a trial period to form a basic idea of Salesforce.
The main task of the second stage was to get acquainted with the options to set up the system, with standard Salesforce automation tools, as well as training in working with the Jira Xray test management system (design of Test Case, Precondition, Test Set, Test Execution, etc.) and working with workflow on test documentation.
This stage lasted 2 weeks. The trainees had to pass 3 main Trailmix courses on Salesforce administration (Trailmix is a set of modules grouped by a specific platform topic) and perform a practical task using the acquired knowledge when passing the modules. The practical task included building an object model and configuring automation using standard Salesforce tools (Process Builder, Flow, Workflow).
In addition, it was necessary to test our own implementation and cover the test with cases in the Xray test management system.
The main task of the third stage was to use existing knowledge in the field of testing, as well as acquired knowledge of the Salesforce platform when testing a real company project implemented on the platform including the establishment of bugs and the preparation of a report on the testing conducted.
The third stage lasted 2 weeks, during which it was necessary to install the package with the application on the org., configure the application, test it and issue a report on the test results.
The results of the internship. Pros and cons of the new JET BI training project
7 trainees passed all the stages and completed all the tasks. The company made job offers to 2 of them. In our opinion, the experiment with the internship was a success and met the expectations. We were able to solve the issues identified during the interviews(at least partially, if not completely):
Time - if we distribute all the time by weeks, then in total, no more than 10 hours were spent on an internship by employees of the QA department per week. At this time, all meetings, consultations, job verification, as well as the preparation of internship materials are included, which is a good result, since we didn’t exceed the time spent by the department on conducting interviews and candidates assessment. Moreover, the materials that were prepared for the internship could be used in the future.
Patterns - this factor is excluded by the internship itself since the trainees had to show their skills and ability to learn a large amount of new information in a short time in practice. Of course, there was a loophole thanks to Google, since the solution for some training modules could be found on the Internet, but this cannot be considered as a disadvantage. In the current IT world, the ability to” Google " is very important, this has been confirmed more than once in practice. There were frequent cases when Junior QA came to the curator with a question that was found in the presence of Junior QA for a minute.
Domain complexity - we tried to get interns interested in the Salesforce platform and its capabilities as much as possible. Almost all the tasks were selected so that the interns could experience working with Salesforce to the full and show creativity when performing a practical task that had several implementation options. Thus, each intern could determine for himself whether their time is worth spending on studying this platform or not. This approach helped to partially minimize our risks associated with the complexity of Salesforce and the fear of it.
Did everything go perfectly?
Not really. The idea of the internship was spontaneous and there was not much time from making the decision to its implementation, so much was done in a hurry, many organizational rough edges were completed and corrected on the go.
Since the tasks were focused on independent work, in our opinion, it wasn’t possible to fully realize the feedback from the curators on all the completed tasks. It was rather general and reflected the result of the entire stage as a whole, it wasn’t detailed.
Also, it’s worth noting that the focus was on the individual work of each intern. The trainees were not grouped or teamed up during the last stage. Because of this, the aspect of teamwork was missed, which is an integral part of the work.
Based on the above told, there is a list of what needs to be improved and completed for future internships:
- organizational aspects: it is necessary to describe and make a script/checklist with all the steps of the organizational plan from the beginning to the end of the internship, where it will be clearly spelled out who does what, when, and how;
- create and expand the database of Salesforce tasks that will be included in the internship. Increase the number of practical tasks with implementation options (for the development of creative thinking), as well as the number of testing tasks;
- add teamwork options;
- improve the quality of feedback from curators, make it more detailed.
What are the results of the internship?
We, as a company and the testing department, have gained:
- experience in holding such events;
- an option to replace interviews with a Junior QA position;
- We have already hired 2 Junior QA specialists in the QA department, ready to start working on projects literally from the first day.
Our interns received:
- experience and skills of working with Salesforce;
- experience in testing projects implemented in Salesforce;
- an additional line in the resume;
- all participants of the internship could request public feedback from the curator;
- everyone who successfully completed the internship could request recommendations;
- Двое interns got their first job.
I would like to thank everyone who took part in the internship. We hope that this will be a useful experience for our interns and will help them realize themselves in the IT field.
Together with them, we also studied and gained invaluable experience. We are sure that it wasn’t the last internship in the QA department held by JET BI.