Views and announcements

Life at Kainos: My first 30 days as a trainee test engineer

  • By Max Warren. 

    Hi, I’m Max! I’m currently working as a trainee test engineer and I’m writing this to give you an insight into the work I do at Kainos. I applied for my role at Kainos after I finished my MSc in Computer Science at the University of Birmingham last autumn and joined through the graduate scheme this June. Since then, I’ve taken part in the Engineering Academy, spent some time ‘on the bench’ and I am now working on a project with NHS Wales.

    As a test engineer, my job includes identifying bugs, making sure new features work properly and working with clients to make sure everything continues to run smoothly. Testing has a real spectrum of work- ranging from very technically demanding work in automation and non-functional testing, to more client-focused tasks. While I was at university, I assumed that software engineering was the default tech career path, an assumption I think many people probably share! However, there is an amazing variety of roles across testing, data, and security that all offer their unique focuses and challenges.

    In this blog, I’m going to take you through “my first 30 days” after I completed the Engineering Academy to try to provide the most representative picture of what graduate jobs at Kainos look like. I will, however, give you a bit of a preamble around my Kainos journey before then to help set the scene!

    The interview experience and getting a place in the graduate scheme

    When I applied for my role at Kainos I did one individual interview and one group interview on the same day, and the process wasn’t unnecessarily drawn out. This really set Kainos apart from other graduate schemes I’d applied to or heard of.

    From my start date at Kainos, I took part in a seven-week training academy. This is something all graduates go through to get them ready for their jobs and it is a great way to bridge the gap between university and build up your confidence. The academy starts with four weeks of job-specific training, which gives everyone a good chance to refresh the knowledge essential to their role. For the test engineering course, we also prepared for and sat the widely recognized ISTQB (International software testing qualification board) exam.

    The last three weeks of the academy are filled with a mock team project. While role-specific learning is a big step change from university, this final step rounds out the transition. This is a fantastic way to build experience doing something very close to your final role without the pressure that might come with working on real projects.

    After I finished the Academy, I briefly moved onto ‘the bench’ while waiting for a project allocation. You are still fully paid whilst between projects and you have a lot more freedom to decide what you want to do, and I decided that I was interested in getting qualifications for working with cloud computing, so I choose to try the AWS Cloud Practitioner certification.

    The exam normally costs £150 but was paid for me by Kainos! Professional qualifications can get expensive very quickly, so it’s unbelievably valuable to have an employer that wants to sponsor you and support you through your learning. With eight days on the bench, I had just enough time to revise for, sit, and pass the exam.

    After a week and a half on the bench, I got my first project assignment.

    My first project

    I was joining a project working with Digital Healthcare Wales on their patient-facing app. The previous test engineer from my team was taking an extended holiday from the next month so another new joiner and I were being moved on to fill in for her. We had two days of handover with the previous test engineer to give us the lay of the land. Getting started on a project, especially a project that is already quite mature, involves quite a bit of setup. Most of my first week on the job involved working out how to get everything running so that I could transition into the project almost seamlessly. 

    It was really great to be involved in such a big project straight from the Academy and be part of the team that was making sure every finished feature was being tested and then signed off by the customer. This felt like a big responsibility, and as the two-week period went on, I was faced with lots of work, but it was very similar to practice work done in the Academy. At the end of those two weeks, I managed to fulfil my role on the team and survived with my job intact!

    Working as a tester you will often be part of a scrum team, this means working closely with developers whose new features you are responsible for testing. There is a myriad of benefits to this. It allows you to speed up your feedback process so that issues can often be resolved within minutes of you finding them, and it gives you a great resource to call upon for any technical issues. It’s also another new group of colleagues to connect with.

    Running acceptance testing meetings was the section of the job that made me feel like I had gotten properly stuck in. Getting to demonstrate new features to customers involves a real risk of reputational damage if things go wrong, which is by far the biggest responsibility I’ve had to take on so far. Getting experience dealing with clients, forming productive professional connections, and presenting products are all invaluable and widely applicable skills so getting a chance to develop these early in my career is super helpful.

    A little bit of advice

    To any of you embarking on the daunting process of looking for a graduate job my advice is:

    •             Be open to different roles when applying, there’s a massive variety of jobs out there

    •             Apply to Kainos, it’s a wonderful place to work and has an amazing graduate scheme

    •             Try and keep your spirits up, it’s a marathon, not a sprint

    Hopefully, I will get to meet some of you next year!

Share this story