The word ‘TestAway’ had no meaning to me when the event was launched at TestFlix. Although I had an idea about TestAway through the experience shared by previous members who still are an important part of the community, It was another big event to enjoy the journey of working on, giving my best to, and helping the community grow. But that changed immensely once we had one foot in the pre-event activities.
Before diving into the insightful experiences I gained from TestAway 2022, I would love to share with you the essence of TestAway and the foundation on which this 3-day journey that changed my perspective towards testing and a lot of different things in life along with 15 other passionate testers who take this beautiful journey forward as a part of their life.
TestAway is a residence learning program, a unique flagship program of The Test Tribe; the concept being, selected testers are invited for a 3-day learning and experience program at a luxurious secret location. All the testers invited are mostly unknown to each other, with the most exciting part being the memories they make together and become lifelong friends, which always makes it all the more important for us to find the right people for the squad.
With that in mind, we started our quest for TestAway 2022 squad during TestFlix. Due to the amount of genuine response of excitement, most of our time went into screening the applicants, explaining the essence of TestAway to them, why this could be a life-changing experience for them, and answering the questions that their inquisitive minds wandered around. And I can tell you, there were many questions asked, some we expected, some we didn’t—the ones we didn’t, made us understand the community more, only for the better.
While the hunt for our squad continued, the venue was the next big thing to finalize. The question remained the same as any other edition of TestAway: “How to find a venue with a location that can fit the event’s vibe within the allocated budget?” However, the budget was a secondary demand, with the most important factor being a safe space for all the participants to open up and free their minds to new experiences, which reflected the basis of our foundational values as a community.
The answer that we now know to this question is to look into multiple properties and then compare our checklist with the properties to ensure the best experience for everyone involved. That is what we did to find our homely abode for four days.
Once the two essential things, attendees and venue, were in motion, we spent the next few days deciding the agenda and schedule of TestAway 2022 with our team and instructor. It required multiple brainstorming with numerous reworks where some ideas were discarded, some were instantly added to the list. The ideas which we got from the team and the community were many times well thought out and sometimes just popped right into our minds at midnight, just going ahead with the expectations of trying something new and inspiring, The next task was to convert the long list of ideas into a schedule the attendees could plan according to.
The next step was determining the list of 60+ stationary accessories and the goodies in the welcome kit. In all this process, The Test Tribe’s motto of “Making Testing Cool Again” was there with us, and we created some quirky quotes like “Pushpa, I love Bugs!” and “Kitney Bugs they.” After taking a lot of time, energy, and numerous cancellations by vendors, we finally were ready with some of our ideas taking a physical shape. And in the end, we had everything to put a smile on our attendees’ faces with us.
With a big tick on the venue, our final list of the squad, welcome kit, and stationary, we then packed our bags and refreshed our minds to reach the venue one day before the event so that we could get the venue to look great for the whole TestAway experience.
TestAway 2022: On the D-Day
Finally, the day came when we met the attendees for the first time and welcomed them. Once everyone was there, we played an introduction game to learn the names and the most profound life experiences of the people we would spend the next three amazing days with. After this, on the first day had a roundtable discussion on “How to earn enough, and how much money is enough?”.
The roundtable was filled with insightful perspectives, which made us realize that even though everyone’s definition of enough money is different, everyone has an idea of how much is enough for them. Following this activity, we had a delicious dinner and networking, ending our first day with learning a lot from each other and looking forward to another two days of exchanging ideas and experiences.
The second day started with an early morning stroll with some of the members of our squad, while others rested to freshen up from a long travel day. Post which, we went into the learning and unlearning that we were all looking up for. The day started with an informative workshop by Ajay Balamurgdas on Mental Models and how they can help testers solve problems, followed by a pair activity of using the mental models to solve the problem of getting too many bugs in production. While learning with the examples Ajay gave was fun, learning through practicing added more depth to the knowledge of the concept.
After the workshop, we gave the stage to our attendees, who shared their knowledge in a lightning talk. Post which, all the attendees upskilled their performance testing knowledge with Performance Testing with JMeter by Sandeep Garg, which was followed by 1:1 peer mentoring, an open session on technology, and then a spectacular end of the day with stories by the poolside.
Our second last day together started by getting charged up with a session of morning yoga taken by one of our attendees, Sayali. What followed next was a Testing Lab session to learn new techniques for approaching testing problems and a game of 20-20 where everyone had to draw 20 items with 20 seconds each. The day ended with a nice cozy dinner by the beach with a mesmerizing fire dance.
Just like that, by the end of all those days, we had a whole new group of friends and a lot of learning which will only help each one of us to get better.
On the last day, after a bittersweet thank you and distribution of certificates, we celebrated with a delicious cake for what we created in the last four days. With heavy hearts, we had to then say goodbye to all the attendees with the promise of staying connected. One by one, everyone left, and then the team was left alone at the venue with its walls still echoing with memories and happiness of the participants who themselves left with a lot of things to apply in testing as well as life and share the same with others
While TestAway had no emotional meaning to me when we started, all the time spent in preparations, striving to create a good vibe, brainstorming on what experience the attendees should get once they enter the venue, meeting new friends, and making new memories, TestAway somewhere became a life-changing event for me too. In the end, that is the vibe of TestAway. It isn’t about going to Goa or Shimla and spending time in a lavish venue. Rather, It is the people you meet, the memories you make, and how you make the most out of the wonderful people around you by learning with them.
Here is Jayshree (one of the attendee from Ahmedabad , India) sharing her thoughts about TestAway!