What type of people pops out in your mind when you think of creators behind a mobile app company? Developers. Designers. Ok but looking beyond these typical answers lies an understated role: test automation engineers. Yes, the name can be quite a mouthful to pronounce (try saying it a few times) but they do play a significant role in ensuring the success of your mobile app.
In this interview with test engineer, Răzvan Ionescu from mega gaming company King (think Candy Crush!), we find out what goes on in a day of his life.
Hey there Răzvan! How do you start your day?
A good coffee and a long, filling breakfast. I start by taking a look at the emails / chats and asking around to see if there are any new tasks that pop up for the day. I also cycle to the office because it gives me energy and it is a fun way to start the day.
So for people who have never heard of test automation engineers before, how will you describe your job to them?
I was debugging in a meeting once and one colleague said “hey, so your job is basically watching the game play itself at high speed, right?”. That’s one way of putting it. I would say my job is to help the team have confidence in the product they release.
In specifics, this means being able to create tests that will run periodically and check that the games do what it’s supposed to do.
Could you name us a few of your daily tasks?
I keep an eye on our test suite to make sure it runs properly and fix any issues it might have. I help people figure out the problems when tests fail.
I coach my teammates how to write new tests for their features.
I write some tests myself.
In general, I try to be an active member of the team and give my input to design decisions alongside with game artists.
Nicely phrased. Did you always know you are going to be a test automation engineer?
I was fairly certain I would do some sort of coder/developer type thing, given my university background and the fact that this is both enjoyable and pretty lucrative. I chose this path because I’m the kind of person that gets bored when presented with the obvious, well-known route and test automation seems more experimental than plain game development.
If not, what did you think you might have done instead?
There are occasional thoughts of quitting and starting a stand up comedy tour while writing a novel on my laptop in Starbucks. We all have those ideas, right?
Is it true that all engineers have terrible sleeping schedules?
No, that’s just me!
But seriously, you have engineers with families who come to work early in the morning and are in bed by eleven o’clock but then you also have the night owls who are not that big on the whole sleep thing.
What are the most rewarding/fun part about it and what can be the most frustrating moments?
Personally, I’m very motivated by the gratifying feeling when my code works because it means I am on the right path. On the other hand, it becomes frustrating if I have bugs which I don’t resolve before going home. Those keep me up thinking for the rest of the evening.
What are some of the misconceptions others may have about the job/about engineers?
In general, there’s a stereotype of an antisocial nerd sitting in a corner working on codes and his hobbies are… more code. I would like to debunk this misconception by saying that some of the engineers I’ve met are also a professional wrestler, a trumpet player and even a clay animator.
Well said and I totally agree with this which leads to my final question. What do you do after work when you’re not carrying out tests?
Two words: music concerts. Often times I follow notable bands on tour in Sweden, but sometimes just live music in the cellar of a bar works like a charm.
And there you have it, a glimpse of a day of life as a test automation engineer starring Răzvan from King. Whatever developers make, they break (or at least test it so insanely until it does) and get paid for it.
Thank you Răzvan for this Q&A!