Viktor Slavchev

Viktor Slavchev: Maintain the junior mindset of being ready to always learn

Our interviews continue on DevExperience stage, so we pass the mic now to our dear neighbour from Bulgaria, Mr. Vicktor Slavchev!

DevExperience: What did you want to become when you were a child?

I don’t really think I had some particular wish when I was a child, I never thought of wanting to become something specific. So, I guess I will stick with the regular – I wanted to become Batman. In fact, I still do :D

DevExperience: Why the transition from linguistics to technology and testing? How and when did it happen and how did it help you in this field?

I think education nowadays has many defects and some serious ones are the fact that it fails to provide proof how it is useful for the business, in other words when a 19 years old high school graduate picks his or her future as a university specialty, they don’t have any idea what they are doing.
So, my case was exactly the same, I just knew I am good at literature and social sciences, but I had no clear idea what professional realization these would have. In long term, seems like my studies in linguistics brought me a lot of diverse knowledge I can apply in testing and public speaking.

DevExperience: How did it happen?

I decided to try programming in a free academy, here in Sofia. It was really interesting to deal with code, it’s just like magic – you write these incomprehensible, at first, words and the application does what you want.
So, in time I understood professional software development is not for me and I probably lack the knowledge to deal with complex development problems – for example I don’t think I can solve shortest path in a graph problem, writing code. But I was still in love with technology and coding, so I tried testing and in few months I found out it was really a thing I like and something I am probably good at.
And, by the way, I totally sucked at the coding academy, I failed to graduate twice, I wasn’t preparing most of my homework within the deadline, so practically, I was a complete failure. :D So, important life lesson here - you don’t have to be best at what you do in order to succeed, but you do have to be passionate and persistent about it. Don’t forget even Michael Jordan failed to join the high school basketball team, the first time.

DevExperience: You are also a blogger and you share with your readers your experience. Do you have some good stories about your experience as a tech blogger?

Tons of them. I always encourage testers and tech people to write blogs, it really helps in many ways.
The one benefit is – you learn to deal with real life problems, but from the perspective of the person maintaining the blog. So, you really see the value and the impact it has on you and what you do. I, my friends and readers found some ridiculous bugs in my blog, that I’d never think of in real life.
One such bug – few weeks before you contacted me, I reader of my blog called Sebastian reported to me he was unable to post a comment or contact me via contact form. Seems like one of the security plugins I installed, blocked the API calls to my blog, meaning nobody was able to contact me from the contact form I have. Therefore, if I wasn’t aware of this, maybe you wouldn’t be able to reach me. This is how products that we develop, and test affect our clients.

DevExperience: What are the top 5 countries in your opinion where IT is very highly developed?

Based on my observations, specifically on the EU and surrounding countries I will definitely put Bulgaria and Romania on that list, may be because I am biased, of course, but the IT community in both our countries is constantly growing and I see a lot of good initiatives and business opportunities coming from that.
I also see Ireland, Estonia and Ukraine as countries that have amazing potential in IT. And the reason why I pick them is that compared to big EU economies like Germany and UK, they are doing good enough and are heading for a bright future in IT.

DevExperience: What do you know about Iași and Romania? Dont Google it! :)

Ah, too late. I did it after you invited me. I’ve already been in Romania once, in Cluj-Napoca and I really liked it, it doesn’t feel that different from home. Another interesting thing is – for no practical reason I understand certain words when I see them written in Romanian, which I guess is because I studied French in high-school and both languages have similar vocabulary, to some point.
As for Iași, I didn’t dive in historical research, but just from the tour guides I saw some amazing churches and a palace that seemed interesting to visit.

DevExperience: What is your advice for a junior who wants to grow as a tester?

My advice will be to always remain a junior or at least maintain the junior mindset of being ready to always learn, be comfortable with not knowing stuff and being comfortable with confusion and failure.
I think sometimes senior roles take themselves way too seriously and this is a good attitude refresher.

DevExperience: What do you do for your both personal and professional development? How does a normal day looks like for you? What about a not so normal day?

First – stay off social media – they are poison if you want to be productive, I try to read a lot and when possible write, to organize my knowledge.
As for personal development, I think martial arts help me improve my personality.

DevExperience: What is the greatest part of your job? What is the not so great part of it?

The greatest part of my job is being able to solve complex problems and find complex bugs, this kind of turns you into a person that knows more about the product than anyone else. This is very nurturing for the ego. :)
The not so great part – being treated like human debugger, not so technical person or a second-class citizen of IT. These are few of the clichés I’m fighting against.

DevExperience: How would you explain to an old lady who knows nothing about technology what is it exactly that you do?

I had this kind of conversation with my grandma, so I am kind of prepared for it. Turns out, especially engineering specialties back in the days had the concept about quality control.

Other wise on the funny side – I can say “I complain about other people’s mistakes, not doing anything to fix them, just complaining” :D, but on the more positive side, I can say “I help people to do a better job in creating software”

DevExperience: Tell us more about the main ideas of your talk at DevExperience! Why should people register and attend the event?

My talks main points are directed in finding out things that don’t work in software testing. I thought for some time what audience your event might have and I imagined that may be there’s developers, PMs, dev ops and I though in-depth testing session might not be the right one. So, I decided to go with something more generic, but I believe equally interesting – the clichés in testing that damage the craft and not only the testing craft, but software development in general.

So, I will speak about breaking clichés in order to build better future for testing. Some of these clichés might be:

The role of testing and the tester in the development cycle? Are we really the ones with power to hold the release?
The dreaded testing in production.
When does testing start and end?
What is the role of automation in testing? Everyone speaking about automation being the future and replacing human testers with AI or machines. Is that possible?
How to strive as a tester? What are the desired skills of the new age?

The reason to register and visit my lecture, besides the fact I am so cool and humble, is that many talks on testing will give the utopic vision off “we figured testing out and here’s how to do it”, which looks good in books and slides, but fails miserably in reality. While, I, on the other hand, try to be more pragmatic and will give you the more realistic version of “testing is a mess, many things are wrong about it, but let’s see what we can do to make it better”.

Yes, Viktor is coming to DevExperience, so make sure that you are coming too! Enter and get your ticket now, so you can enjoy our wonderful show!