An old friend reached out to me recently to ask me some questions about Ruby, a very handy programming language to know if you are in testing, development or IT/Ops. During the conversation I mentioned that I am presently working as an Agile Technical Coach, and not in a Testing role of some kind.
Two things came to my mind during the conversation: (1) I am happy to have moved on from Testing (i.e. from doing it to teaching it), and (2) I went to some lengths for the job I have now.
After 20 years in various Testing and QA roles, I am happy to have moved onto coaching, consulting and training. I know when it's time to leave the development game to a new crowd with a fresh pair of eyes.
There are two things in my professional life that I love doing: Teaching and Testing. I did the latter for a long time, so I am pleased to focus on Teaching for a while. Unfortunately, it's still quite clear to me that many people are getting into Software Development without much knowledge (if any) of formal Testing and Quality practices. Sigh. That's too bad. It seems I will have many teaching and coaching opportunities in this field for a while yet.
For those who may be wondering why I stepped into the Agile community rather than remain solely in the Testing one, the answer is simple. In agile teams, everyone tests. All the time. Test all the things! There is simply more opportunity for me to help people, teams and organisations with good testing practices in agile teams than in dedicated testing teams alone (like in a Waterfall org or Testing Centre of Excellence of some kind).
Testing means more in agile teams and takes many different forms. I have grown and learned a lot more about Testing than I ever knew since I started working with agile teams.
My second thought (above) was about where I am currently working. My current employer is about 1,000 km away from home and my family. There are no direct flights and I am in a different country. On a good day, it takes me 2 flights and about 9-10 hours to get home.
Thinking about my friend in Europe, I wondered how far I could get in Europe with 2 flights and 10 hours. I figure I can likely get to just about anywhere in Europe. =) Maybe I should consider working in Europe for a while?
Back to North America.. yes, working as a consultant away from family is hard. I find I have more free time in the evenings and yet I still haven't caught up with the books I want to read, the books I need to write, or even updated my web site. I am still running ragged, and doing what I can just to keep up with some of the conferences I wish to attend.
Why don't I work closer to home? Great question. I know many Canadians working in the U.S. right now doing similar work to me. In short, if I could get good work closer to home I would certainly take it. I miss many friends and colleagues from my home town and nearby areas. I enjoy making new friends and meeting people here that I might not otherwise have the chance to meet.
Most importantly, I am happy doing what I love. I love working with people eager to learn and improve how they deliver software - to do it better, faster and more reliably. I see development teams coming together and working in ways they never imagined, and I wonder where they will go in the future. I know I am making a difference with the people I work with and that makes it worthwhile.
So, a question for you: geographically speaking, how far would you go to do work that you love? What would you sacrifice?