In this interview, Anna Momatava, winner of the uTest contest, discusses her STAREAST experience. Look for more keynotes, sessions, and interviews at this year’s STARWEST conference in Anaheim.
In this interview from STAREAST 2015, Anna Momatava talks about her experiences winning a trip to the conference in the uTest competition. She touches on the highlights from her week spending time with well-known developers and testers.
Jennifer Bonine: All right! We are back for our virtual audience with our last interview of the day and before we move to the keynote—the final keynote and the closing keynote for today. I am so excited to have Anna here with us. I'm so glad you all get to meet her. I've had the chance to talk to her over the last couple of days, and I just absolutely enjoyed it. Thank you so much for being here.
Anna Momatava: Thank you.
Jennifer Bonine: Just for people out there who may now know you, just give them a little background on you and kind of your career. You worked for IBM?
Anna Momatava: Yes.
Jennifer Bonine: But obviously had some other interests in things you do, too. Maybe give them a little of background? For them?
Anna Momatava: I worked for IBM as a test specialist and a test consultant. I worked with different IBM clients, different companies. I really focus on providing the value to the customer, looking into what needs to be done, improving the process, things like that. But I also, in my free time, I do freelancing for uTest or Applause ... it's actually the same company, but they have two names.
Jennifer Bonine: For those of you that didn't know, uTest and Applause ... same thing.
Anna Momatava: Yes, it's the same thing. It used to be uTest and then transitioned to Applause, kind of to separate the community part of it and the business part of it, like the client side of it. I started as a tester in 2013 with uTest and later on transitioned into test team lead role. Basically, what is uTest ... It's a crowd sourced platform that ... I think right now 150 plus thousand testers who are registered for uTest platform, and actually anyone can register, uTest.com, you guys can create a profile and then you will be invited into the sandbox cycle where you can show what you can do, what value you can provide, how good of a tester you are, and then if you pass that, the better you do, the more cycle invitations you will get actually paid projects.
You can work on them as a tester. You can file bugs, also grow as a tester. They have a rating system. It's a good way for all the testers out there who are interested on working on different projects because working daytime job, we can do so many projects and we can learn so many products, but with uTest, it's very versatile. Today you work with one product, tomorrow you are invited to test a different product. It can be, today, e-commerce app, tomorrow, a game, if you are a gamer, you would enjoy finding bugs in a new game.
Jennifer Bonine: Exactly.
Anna Momatava: That's the concept.
Jennifer Bonine: Which is awesome. For those of you out there that love what you do during the day but want some more variety in some of what you're doing, this could be a great way for you to sign up and have an opportunity to freelance and get some of those opportunities to try new things or get in to new spaces and add some value.
Anna Momatava: Absolutely.
Jennifer Bonine: uTest actually sponsors a conference. What they do is they sponsor someone getting admission to the conference; they're paying for it, for them to get here. We'll talk about how you actually got here, then. In terms of being at this conference and being at STAREAST this week.
Anna Momatava: Actually, this is my first software test conference that I've been to, but I wanted to go for a while. And when I found out that uTest, they were collaborating with TechWell and had a contest with a grand prize of a trip to the STAREAST conference, I was like, “This is meant to be, I got it.”
Jennifer Bonine: I got this. We're going to do this. It's going to work. You are actually the grand prize winner. For those out there who think there's this contest and no one ever wins and it doesn't happen: It's a real thing and Anna was the winner. She's actually here now for the week enjoying the conference and getting to meet new people and be a part of it which is awesome.
For those of you out there watching then you say, "I want to go but I don't know how." This is actually a way and for the one coming up in the fall, STAR WEST, which will actually be in California, it's in Anaheim—you'll all have the opportunity like Anna did to go out to the website SQE.com and look at the details for the contest, register, and then sign up to be a part of that contest to hopefully get yourself a seat out at the conference coming up in the fall.
Anna Momatava: Absolutely. I don't know what the new contest is going to be ... if it's going to be different from what we have. But for us it was just creating a short video of yourself, about why you want to go, what you want to learn, and about your background. Just be creative and do it.
Jennifer Bonine: That's awesome. Now if anyone wants to see the video ... is your video posted anywhere, or no?
Anna Momatava: It's on the uTest blog. If you go to Google and search “uTest TechWell contest” or “uTest STAREAST contest,” you'll find it. It's pretty awkward, but ....
Jennifer Bonine: But you can go see it so you can get a sample or an idea of a grand prize winning entry and what that looks like. What do you think? You've been here now a couple of days, it's Wednesday, we’re going towards the end of Wednesday, we have another day left. What would you tell people out there about the value you're getting from being here. Because they're obviously not able to fully participate. It's great that they get to see some of the keynotes and see this interviews with people who are here. What's kind of been the biggest value you're getting out of actually being at the event?
Anna Momatava: Of course. I'm learning a lot from all the sessions and classes that we had. By the way, thank you for the wonderful presentation Monday morning.
Jennifer Bonine: Absolutely.
Anna Momatava: It was great, and as you said, we talked about it yesterday. The main values ... probably networking and meeting people and for me, it's been the opportunity to meet all the speakers and these experienced testers, acclaimed testers in person. Like how you've had an opportunity to talk to and what about your experience and how you got to where you are now. I had an opportunity to talk to James Bark. Half an hour ago I talked to Michael Bolton. Actually, we discussed a real-life example from my work environment and he helped me—he gave some insight into the situation, gave me advice, what to do.
It's really great; I'm learning a lot. I'm really grateful for this opportunity to talk to people and find out about their background and their experience because there are so many things out there and software testing is so diverse. So many people from all kinds of different companies that we were really talking about yesterday ... some people say "hey, I'm from ... I work for Kate Spade" and somebody is like "Kate Spade has an IT department?" Like yeah, it's not just purses.
Jennifer Bonine: Right. Somehow they get those to a website and sell them and that's where you all get them.
Anna Momatava: Yes.
Jennifer Bonine: But it is, it's fun to see just the diversity, I think. One of the things I always tell people is ... this is one of those experiences you get what you put in to it, right? If you come here and you hang out at the pool and you don't go at the sessions and you don't meet anyone, that's what you'll get out of it. You might get a good tan at the end of the week. But if you come and you actually network, there's access to so many people that are experts in their field and you may have a back log of questions that you’re just dying to have someone answer for you or ask outside of your own company or industry and this is a great opportunity, as you mentioned, to do that.
Anna Momatava: Absolutely.
Jennifer Bonine: Real-life examples help me solve this, people are willing to do it.
Anna Momatava: Sure. Today, they have meet-the-speakers session, so you can come and meet anyone. Actually, when I started software testing, one of the first lectures I saw online was the one from James Bark. I was like, "Oh my God, I like this guy, he is so awesome." I got to meet him now in person and it's really exciting and he is a really interesting person to talk to.
Jennifer Bonine: There are so many. It's amazing to me and it's neat to see, too, some of the ... I call them the legendary figures ... they're like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. They've been around forever and we all know them and they've written books. But then, you have some of the new folks who got ideas that are just coming out, too, and it's the new trends, the kind of new innovative thinking and processes, too. It's like you're seeing all of that kind of converge in one space for a week. Getting that mind share. What would you say to folks out there who think, “I want to go on my career, I want to go to a conference I've never been before. I want to try something new.” What advice could you give to the folks watching this? To say, how do you take the step to actually be able to do that?
Anna Momatava: I'd say don't be afraid to leave your comfort zone and don't just fall into a daily routine when you just go to work and leave work. How our workplace can provide us with opportunities but not always, there are so many. You really need to get out there and start networking and look for other opportunities to do some testing. Maybe, for example, for other companies, through platforms like uTest or talk to people who have reached the certain level that you want to get to. Ask for advice. I would say get out there and go to social media. Research different websites, crowd source, and platforms. Do your best, learn, because you have to learn every day to keep up with the modern world of software testing that's changing every day.
Be brave and confident because you can do it.
Jennifer Bonine: Absolutely. I think that's huge for people to understand. A lot of times, I think we step back and say, "well, my job should provide this or they should send me the conferences or training, if I don't get it then I'm not going to do anything." But there are so many ways, as you've said, to get out there and try other things and not wait ... wait to come to you, but you go get it yourself and take an active role on your career and where you're taking it.
Anna Momatava: Active, not passive.
Jennifer Bonine: Exactly.
Anna Momatava: Absolutely.
Jennifer Bonine: Get out there and get involved. I know you also do a blog. So besides your freelance work with uTest and working with IBM and other things, you also have a blog to write.
Anna Momatava: I'm writing for the uTest blog. I like to write, I like to also interview people, meet new people, talk to them because it's the best way to learn.
Jennifer Bonine: It is. Just kind of getting in there and asking the questions and figuring it out. What would you say in terms of some of the things you've found. Like you said, "Go out there and research, do your homework, find new articles, new blogs, new places to go to get information." Is there anything ... one of the folks we talked to earlier today had said, "go read The Phoenix." You know, the book "The Phoenix." It's a great book on projects. Is it anything like that that you would recommend, a particular blog, or a site that you really like to go to, or a book that you read recently that you kind of resonated with you that you would say, "Hey guys, go try this, I think that it might help you," to the folks out there?
Anna Momatava: Well, of course, there are so many sources and so much information now, online. That you can research and read for days and never read everything. But I would say the first thing that came to my mind is that especially for beginning testers and the testers who want to improve and let's say, don't want to take extensive courses, extensive classes. uTest actually has uTest University. It is like an educational blog where they have all kind of courses, all kind of classes on testing, animation, Selenium, all kind of different tools, and it's absolutely free. They have videos, they have materials ... I would say uTest uUiversity, check it out.
Jennifer Bonine: A good place to try and start.
Anna Momatava: Yes.
Jennifer Bonine: Science and information are some stuff that they're struggling for where to go. In terms of giving people a feel for you know, this being your first conference, how you're feeling, kind of just what it's like to actually be at one. For those who are watching that haven't had the chance to come to one, what is the difference in kind of being here alive and in person, because you get a lot of information off websites and blogs and things like that. Actually being in person at these things in these events, what's the feel you get or kind of just the vibe you get from being here?
Anna Momatava: It's like a world. Everything is happening.
Jennifer Bonine: Yeah.
Anna Momatava: You kind of ... so much information and different classes. Sometimes you have difficulty choosing which one, because everything sounds good and meeting new people, talking to people, talking to the speakers, I'd say it's a very exciting experience. I'm very glad that I have this opportunity to come and be here. I would say it's like you're a kid at a candy store. Everything looks good and you want to try everything and at the end of the day, you could go to bed like thinking about everything that happened during the day and trying to process this information. It gives you new ideas, it gives you motivation to do ... go out there, be better, learn more, it definitely motivates you.
Jennifer Bonine: Good. Well, we are out of time. It goes so quickly, but thank you for being here with us. I really appreciate it. If people want to connect with you, find you, as you more questions, what's the best way for the folks out there to get a hold of you?
Anna Momatava: You can go Twitter and Tweet me @Anna_Momatava, that's my last name. So, Anna_Momatava, you can find me there. You can go, also, to uTest Tweeter page and you can find me there, they Retweeted a bunch of my Tweets.
Jennifer Bonine: Perfect. Thank so much for being here. Enjoy the rest of the conference, and for those of you watching, make sure and tune in to the lightning keynotes next.