A day in the life of a Junior Manual QA Engineer: Lora Antonova on starting a career in IT

What is it like to work in the IT industry in Bulgaria? This is a question many people interested in a career in the sector ask themselves. So, we, at Bica, gathered some of the people that we helped find the right job to share their stories. With this series of interviews, we are aiming to show people how the everyday life of a person working in the IT sector goes. We hope to break some cliches about the professionals employed in the industry and inspire more individuals to consider a career in IT.

Today, we share with you the story of a young lady that is making her first steps in the tech sphere. Lora Antonova graduated in Journalism from Sofia University. She explored different career paths – journalism, HR, tutoring, and IT. In this interview, we discover what makes the industry attractive to her and why she feels SessionStack is the right place for her. We also discuss how young professionals with no practical experience can secure their first IT job.

Lora, can you share a bit more about yourself?

My name is Lora Antonova and I’m a Manual QA Engineer at SessionStack. This is my first job in the IT industry, as I am making the first steps in developing my career. I’m a curious person who likes to try out different challenges and dive deep into different topics. In my spare time, I love going on a walk or traveling. I’m an avid Formula 1 fan as well.

Do you have a usual routine? How does a day in your life go?

I’m a big fan of the routine and building a plan for the day. My friends and I have an inside joke that I’m Monk from the TV series and they often compare me to him.

My day starts with breakfast and a cup of coffee to boost my energy levels. After that, I start with my work tasks for the day. We have a daily meeting where our team discusses any challenges we’ve faced and prioritize different activities. As I finish my tasks and end the workday, I try to relax and enjoy a nice walk outside.

Could you tell us more about your responsibilities as a Manual QA Engineer? 

My main responsibility is manually testing the features of SessionStack’s product that my colleagues have developed. I verify that everything works and can be released to the public.

When there isn’t anything urgent on my testing task list, I’m observing our product and look for different features of the product that can be improved. After that, I’m responsible for adding this as a ticket for our developer team to resolve it and make sure it gets fixed.

I’m responsible for reporting all bugs that occurred and their status during our weekly meetings. 

In your career, you have taken a variety of positions in different fields. Why did you decide to start a career in IT? What makes the industry attractive to you?

Although just 24 years of age, I had quite a few jobs in different fields – journalism, HR, tutoring, and IT. I managed to learn from the more experienced people in my previous jobs and realized that for some of them, you need a degree.

I’m still passionate about journalism and human resources, but the IT industry provides an excellent opportunity to grow as a professional and explore different fields for future development. Another aspect I like is the possibility to learn new skills and tackle different challenges every day. This allows me to grow both professionally and personally.

After deciding to begin developing my technical skills, I started looking at different courses that’ll allow me to make the first steps.

What’s the biggest challenge previously faced when looking for a job? Is there something that stands out in your mind?

As a professional with no practical experience, the hardest thing was to actually demonstrate my skills and ability to learn in front of potential employers. Often companies look for people who have a track record of the projects they worked on. During the time I was looking for my first IT job, I had moments when potential employers didn’t reply to me for months.

What was the biggest help in the process of starting your job at SessionStack?

Stela from Bica was very helpful in the hiring process. She had a personal approach toward me and listened to what my goals were. We had an honest conversation where Stela shared more about SessionStack, the possibilities it offers, and the recruitment process. Stela presented my application to the company and we scheduled an in-person interview which allowed me to meet the CEO of SessionStack. Having such a quick and honest hiring process was very important to me.

What were the factors that made you choose SessionStack?

There were a few factors that made SessionStack interesting to me.  The informal and friendly atmosphere during the interviews was very important. Alexander Zlatkov, SessionStack’s CEO, joined both meetings and he wanted to discover more about my personality and my approach toward work. As he mentioned, the company is looking for people who will help develop the culture and will provide them with an opportunity to grow as professionals.

SessionStack’s product was also another reason to choose the company. By joining the team, I can contribute to building a global product that aims to change the way product managers work.

A few months after joining SessionStack, I’d say the most valuable thing for me is the united and supportive team we have. Everyone is ready to help you learn new things and explore your passions.

What is your advice to other young people who are debating whether to start a career in the tech industry? What skills a young developer needs to secure their first job in the tech industry?

My biggest advice for young people, especially those who want to switch from another industry to IT, is to be persistent and eager to learn. If you show these qualities, employers will want to hire you because they see the potential you have. 

In a previous role, you were part of an outsourcing company. Can you share with us what are the differences between a local product company and an outsourcing organization?

The flexibility of an organization is probably the biggest difference for me. Working in a startup that is developing a product, an employee can explore his/hers interests, try out different aspects of the development process and learn from more experienced colleagues. In a corporation or an outsourcing company, an employee has a strict structure that needs to be followed.

What are your goals for the future?

Among the goals I’ve set is developing my skills in automation testing. If SessionStack continues to grow in the same trajectory, I hope we’ll expand the team and hire more QA Engineers. This will be an opportunity for me to share my experience with the new team members and help them learn new skills.

If you want to find the right position for you to thrive and grow, check out our career page and take the next step in your career.

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