The Unconventional Career Path to Quality Assurance Test Engineer

May 13, 2022 6 min

When Jenni Pekkarinen started as a Quality Assurance Test Engineer at RELEX, her career journey had taken some unexpected turns.

Chance played a role in her path to RELEX and to the role in which she now works.

From teacher to tech professional

It was 2016 when Jenni realized she had made a good career as a math, physics, and chemistry teacher. After five years in education, something compelled her to take a minute and evaluate whether this was the career she wanted or if her true calling was somewhere else.

While still studying, Jenni had already thought that she could also try working in another job besides teaching, at least for a little while. The turning point for Jenni was realizing the hard truth of how difficult it is to find a permanent job position as a teacher. She wanted to find a job that suited her life, a job with less stress and more predictability. 

“A career in the IT industry seemed like the right direction to get the career and life she dreamed of.”

Leaving behind what has been your life for five years can feel scary and exciting at the same time. Jenni went back and forth with the decision for some time: would she continue the familiar and comfortable path of teaching or take a leap of faith and try making a new career in the tech world? 

But Jenni was curious and confident she could learn whatever was ahead. She realized that the leap of faith was calling her name loud and clear. A career in the IT industry seemed like the right direction to get the career and life she dreamed of.

Fate intervenes

One day Jenni was talking with someone who worked at RELEX. After hearing about Jenni’s background, she encouraged Jenni to apply for a position at RELEX. The conversation got Jenni interested; she decided to find out more about RELEX, and she liked what she found.

“I decided to try my luck and apply for what, back then, was a Solutions Specialist role at RELEX”, Jenni laughs.

Jenni’s back story may sound unconventional. But it is also a testimonial to the diversity of backgrounds and employment histories people in the tech industry have.

Jenni graduated with a master’s degree in Physics and Information Technology and went on to teach math, physics, and chemistry in Junior High School for five years.

We at RELEX did not see this as a bad thing.

“My career at RELEX started in a technical support team, where I solved technical problems our customers faced with the RELEX software”, Jenni explains.

In that role, Jenni got to dive deep into the RELEX software and the world of our retail customers. By providing customer support, monitoring the software and hardware infrastructure, and maintaining our SaaS service, Jenni got an excellent foundation for what she would learn next in her career path.

Craving for more

A clear sign of getting the taste of something is when you start craving for more. You want to explore more and understand the why’s and the how’s. You want to see what happens before and what is possible after that.

It happened to Jenni, too. A couple of years in technical support got her taste buds going. She started to crave more.

“Jenni wasn’t sure if she should progress to more advanced technical roles or divert into business development.”

The problem was, she wasn’t sure exactly what. After all, this was her first job in the tech industry, and she wasn’t sure what more there could be for someone with a background like hers.

Jenni wasn’t sure if she should progress to more advanced technical roles or divert into business development.

Technical or business? Jenni was able to try both

How do you know which option is better if you have never tried either one?

You find a workplace where you can test drive both options before making up your mind.

That is precisely what happened with Jenni.

Jenni applied internally for a Technical Service Consultant role, which seemed like the perfect solution at the time because it combined the best of both worlds.

As a Technical Service Consultant, she worked closely with our Service Manager and helped one of our big customers to start the continuous service phase for our product. 

“In that role, I got time to familiarize myself with both the business and the technical aspects of the work and decide my course once I knew more”, she says. 

Looking for bigger fish in the sea

It took another couple of years before Jenni knew it was time to change gears in her career.

Jenni ended up having many internal conversations about different options. Initially, she was hoping to change to the operations side at RELEX. Unfortunately, though, there wasn’t a suitable role available at the time. 

She was determined to pursue a change in her career, so she decided to go where help was most needed, and it took her to the technology side to work with planograms.

Luckily, this was a blessing in disguise.

Jenni ended up in the role of Quality Assurance Test Engineer, in which she still works today. It is a technical role but with an operational twist.

“She got a chance to tailor the role to suit her better.”

”Testing and quality assurance includes a lot of planning, documenting test scenarios, and automatization. It also requires communication with the developers, product owners, and other Test Engineers”, she sums. 

She also got a chance to tailor the role to suit her better.

“When I started in my new role, we began to build a new team of Test Engineers in Helsinki. So, I had more coordination and arrangement responsibilities”, she says.

“After growing the team, I’ve been able to focus more on testing tasks.”

In the end, it turned out that technology had stolen Jenni’s heart.

What Jenni’s life looks like today

Changing from business operations to the technology side was just what Jenni wanted.

What makes software testing so interesting for Jenni?

“When I was studying, I found the laboratory days the most exciting. We tested one thing and found the result could be something totally unexpected. It is the same at RELEX. We test our software, see the result, and occasionally something unexpected comes up. To put it simply, it is just quite fun”, says Jenni.

Working side by side with RELEX developers, Jenni and her team develop a part of our cloud-native application that enables users to see planograms, give feedback to planners and modify data for manual orders that they want to place. 

“It is a delicate process that requires good communication between developers and our testing team”, Jenni explains. 

Jenni has had only great experiences collaborating with the developers.

“We share tips and experiences back and forth, document our steps in the process, and communicate our thoughts thoroughly when we face challenges. It makes both our jobs easier”, she explains.

How Jenni has experienced her unconventional career journey at RELEX

Jenni has been with RELEX for almost six years now.  

During these years, she went from solving customer problems to becoming a Technical Consultant and then becoming a Test Engineer in product development. 

In her journey at RELEX, Jenni has appreciated the opportunity to experience an almost tailored career path, matching her wishes, acknowledging her uncertainties, and giving her time before nailing down her career direction. 

“The steps that I have taken at RELEX are not the most common ones, but I like that it was made possible for me this way”, she says. 

Her experiences have created good for others too.

“I have had the opportunity to document my learnings from my work to share with others here. I also took part in developing our onboarding materials for technical support”, she explains.

“When it comes to career development, I think that things start to happen when you ask around. Also, if you are proactive, you can impact many things here.”

Jenni certainly has taken part in many things.

She has participated in developing the service center’s operations, took part in a project restructuring a data center, assembled the process of version updates, and participated in building the testing team.

“I have a habit of interfering in various projects that interest me”, she laughs.

 “When it comes to career development, I think that things start to happen when you ask around. Also, if you are proactive, you can impact many things here”, she says. 

So, what continues to keep Jenni inspired at RELEX?

“The people and the culture”, she answers without hesitation.

Jenni also points to our wonderful co-founders, who are inspiring and caring examples to us all.

“I feel that everything is running so smoothly right now. People are nice and easy to communicate with, I can trust others, and I am trusted. My role feels clear, and my tasks are still interesting. I can be myself here. It is that simple”, she sums.