Taking My Chance: Being a Volunteer
Four years ago, I found out about the Agile Testing Days for the first time. I was working for almost 2 years as a tester and Scrum Master and I was trying to find some conference that could help me to learn more about how to be a better tester but as well help my team to become more Agile. There were no conferences about Agile and Testing in my surroundings and at that time not a lot of companies were implementing Agile methodologies in Macedonia. When I read about the Agile Testing Days conference in an article about the best software testing conferences of 2015, the Agile Testing Days was all I was looking for. The program offered topics that covered different subjects from Testing and Agile and the sessions had different experience levels which made me more confident. When I looked at the speakers, I could see a lot of familiar names from the testing community and it was a great opportunity to hear them in person. I really wanted to be part of the conference but when I saw the price for the conference ticket, I kind of got disappointed as I knew it was impossible for me to pay that amount. I realized that maybe I could write to the organizers and ask them if there was any other way that I could join the conference. I thought to myself that I couldn’t lose if at least I tried. After a couple of days, I got a response from the organizing team saying that there will be a contest for an Escape Room proposal and if I would win, I could get a free ticket. OMG, I was so happy when I read the message. Although I didn’t have a clue about Escape Rooms at that time, I started googling it 😊 and I submitted my proposal. My proposal wasn’t accepted but I received an offer from the organizing team that I could come and help the team that won with the Escape Room contest and also with other activities as a volunteer. A dream came true – I couldn’t believe that it would be possible for me to be part of such a big conference with all these famous speakers. But it made me also realize that it often takes just a little bit of effort to try and see what could happen. After I have got a free ticket, I had a good talk with my managers 😊 and they helped me out a lot in paying for my travel expenses and stay in Potsdam.
Becoming a volunteer helped me a lot to step out of my comfort zone, meet new friends and make connections that are very valuable to me. Volunteering for the Agile Testing Days in 2015 gave me the chance to realize that everyone at the conference – no matter if they were speakers, organizers, volunteers or participants – was open to conversations and sharing ideas and challenges. I came to the conference not knowing anyone and completely on my own but by the end of the first day, I had met friends that I would keep in touch with long after the conference ended. It is a wonderful feeling and recognition when I look back and remember the people I have met during my first year at the Agile Testing Days like Lisa Crispin, Janet Gregory, David Evans, Elisabeth Hocke, Andreas Schwarz, Boris Wrubel, and many others. We have continued our communication and collaboration outside of the Agile Testing Days and the conference has become our most valuable reunion point.
The Next Step: Speaking at the Agile Testing Days
My development from a volunteer to a speaker was also an incredible experience, and I owe a big thank you to Uwe Gelfert, who gave me the chance to become a New Voice speaker at the Agile Testing Days Netherlands and in Germany in 2016 and connected me with Lisa Crispin, and I have to thank Lisa as well, who was my mentor and helped me a lot with her feedback and tips on writing proposals, preparing presentations and presenting them.
When I started as a New Voice speaker, I was so concerned about what the audience would like, would they like what I am sharing and would they find it useful. With time and experience, I learned that the most important thing is to share a real learning journey and my story and to leave the audience to decide what they will take out from it instead of worrying if I will satisfy everyone's needs. If I compare my first talk in 2016 in the Netherlands and the one from 2018, I can say that I have become more confident with myself on stage, my presentation skills have improved and I am progressing on the speed of presenting. However, I still need to work on this one 😊. Being able to share my learnings as a speaker at the Agile Testing Days was a great accomplishment for me. I felt like I was giving back to the community from which I learn continuously. I see my speaker commitment as a chance to share and motivate others to embrace change and make things happen.
You Never Know What Will Happen at the Agile Testing Days
Being part of the Agile Testing Days as a volunteer and speaker was also a big turn over related to my professional career. I feel like that there is always a new possibility around the corner and a new chance to embrace something new at the Agile Testing Days. Every year, there is a new milestone for me. I started 2015 as a volunteer and the following year I joined the conference as a speaker in front of a big audience. The following year in 2017, I was again a speaker at the Agile Testing Days.
And 2018 was unique again as I got a job offer from the German software company beQualified GmbH, who sponsored the conference for the second time in a row in 2018. This led to the new experience of being a speaker at the conference and being part of the vendor staff representing my new company at the conference.
Every year, I grow more with the opportunities that are coming up with and from the conference. 2019 is going to be special again as I am pairing up with my learning partner Eddy Bruin. At the Agile Testing Days 2018, we both made a pact to facilitate a workshop together at next year’s conference. I am really looking forward to rocking the workshop with Eddy and to reaching a new milestone as a workshop facilitator.
I never know what next year will bring; maybe I will someday replace Pepe (the initiator of the Agile Testing Days) as a host and moderator. Just kidding! The only thing I know is that I am looking forward to being part of the Agile Testing Days again and again. This one week at the Agile Testing Days in Potsdam recharges my batteries with energy for change and motivation for the whole next year. If you want to be part of the conference and you don’t know if volunteering is the right thing to do, I recommend giving it a try 😊 because it is powerful what this conference can do for you if you make the most out of it.