Last September, I took an SDET job — what was I thinking?
In case you’ve no clue whatsoever what that acronym means (I certainly didn’t three years ago), an SDET (Software Development Engineer in Test) is a person who writes code that tests code. An STE (Software Test Engineer) is a person who tests code either manually or through scripts that someone else has authored. Okay? Got context? GO!
I guess I was thinking that when I dabbled in test automation at Wizards of the Coast, I’d proven that my experiences with code in college were a fluke, and I might actually enjoy the whole programming thing.
I’ve spent five months as an SDET now, and while I’m functional at it, I’ll never be great. The support structure at Wizards — a proactive environment, self-development ethic, team mentality, regular human contact — are non-existent at my new gig.
Some jobs, like writing, I can do in the absence of human contact, because for whatever reason, writing doesn’t chew away my social meter. Code does. I need people around in order to code.
Besides, for a tech-y writer, I’m a pretty extroverted guy. I enjoy meetings, I like talking to people, I don’t go slack-jawed when I see a suit and tie, and so I wanted to get back to a communication role. Imagine my shock when my freshly updated resume generated leads only for more SDET roles.
Once that flash of light blinded the office and I clicked “Software Development Engineer in Test” as my upgrade, I was forever damned to the left-hand path. When I lost the meetings, lost the test plan writing, lost the requirements and the camaraderie in trade for an isolated cubicle where no one visits me, I was too late for regrets. Real Life’s dev team promised a reload feature several patches ago, but their file structure wasn’t engineered with it in mind. Bug closed as “Won’t Fix”.
I told every recruiter that called that I wanted a right-hand path role. They’d smiled across the phone line, said they’d look into it, and never did.
Of course they didn’t. Let’s say you need a Tank (Crusty Indispensable Guy) for your dungeon dive in an MMO. You whisper me, saying “Group looking for Tank, PST if interested.” I reply, “Can’t tank, specced as Buffer, but want to go!”
Would you respond?
Shit no, of course you wouldn’t, you’d trawl /who for what you’re actually looking for: A tank.
Real Life is the same, except your class is the topmost position on your resume. So what’s an enterprising RL dungeon-crawler to do?
I guess it’s a good thing that Real Life’s class system is open source. Any dummy with a text editor can fix an oopsie on their character sheet.
I left the bullet points below the exact same for both resumes, the title was the only difference, and it was a downgrade. I uploaded the new resume to the job search sites and waited.
For two hours.
That’s what it took for me to get a qualified job lead. Now safely past the bullshit keyword search phase, I sent them my actual title, which the ecstatic recruiter said made me an even better candidate.
I guess my takeaway from this whole experience is the job hunt’s first about getting past the keyword search, and second about putting yourself in a good light.
Or something. I really just wanted to vent about the stresses of my day job for a bit.