Interns In QA: Product Team Experience

by The Content Team at AdTech 26 March, 2024

Large company internships are usually associated with a meticulously planned structure, which involves the review of resumes, interviews, and a precise training program for young specialists thoroughly selected from the rest of the candidates. 

However, sometimes opportunities arise unexpectedly. This is how the QA department of PropellerAds, AdTech Holding’s flagship project, met its first intern and embarked on a three-month journey full of mutual benefit.

Today, we will share how this unplanned road turned into a rewarding experience and new goals.

About the Internship: How It Began

The idea of having an intern was not new for AdTech Holding. Various departments of the Holding’s projects have already successfully dealt with trainees and helped young specialists adapt to the real working environment of the large AdTech company.

The Product Team of PropellerAds was mainly focused on growing junior full-time professionals with little experience. So, having Cyril as an intern became a novel challenge for them. After not getting approved for one of the AdTech Holding positions, Cyril decided to offer himself as a candidate for an internship as a QA specialist.

Without any previous experience in QA but with a basic knowledge of the processes and theory after a beginner QA course, Cyril was enthusiastic about trying his new profession in action.

As the problem of diving into the reality of a particular job without any previous experience is one of the biggest challenges for young professionals, AdTech Holding HR and Product Teams decided to support Cyril’s initiative. Soon, Cyril joined the team for a three-month program, with a 3-day working week. 

The QA Internship Plan and Program

As the decision to begin the training program was unexpected enough, the team did not have a precise plan. However, the improvisation skills of Aleksandra Selezneva, the Senior Manual QA Engineer and Cyril’s main mentor throughout his path, did not fail.

Here is what she included in Cyril’s personal internship program:

  • Introduction the key concepts and terms of the QA working processes: bugs, Jira, bug tracking system, sprint, CI/CD, test environment, checklist, test management system, priority, automated test
  • Internship goal settings
  • Introduction to the development processes in the team: sprints, task lifecycles, team communication, team events: planning, retro, demo. The role of QA in the Product team
  • Introduction to the test environment and product: getting access rights, main functions, first testing, and bug reporting attempts
  • Introduction to Allure TestOps, the test management system: key concepts, test documentation, version control system, GitHub
  • CI/CD system: environment updates, automated test execution. results analysis
  • Working with tasks: requirements clarification, test documentation compilation, testing, results reporting
  • Interim results review: what was achieved and what required more attention

Alexandra: I kept maintaining flexibility by adjusting the initial plan and aligning it with actual workflows. Cyril never received any ‘training’ tasks: all his internship was based on the real QA routine. During the whole internship, I requested feedback from both the intern and his supervisors, taking into account the overall team workloads and Cyril’s rate of progress.

For example, if one of the topics required less time to study than it was initially planned, we did not stick to the plan in this case and went further. And, of course, I did my best to leave enough space for Cyril’s independent ideas and initiatives.

It took Cyril two weeks to complete the onboarding and begin understanding the overall working process before he got down to his first tasks. The whole team was also involved and helped him resolve the issues, answer the questions, and investigate the workflows.

Navigating The Challenges

The team did not experience any issues with communication or the overall process: everything went smoothly despite the fact Cyril had zero practical experience. Even the challenge of both diving into QA workflows and understanding AdTech – a pretty specific and complicated niche – basics was not the biggest one.

Alexandra: The Product Team turned out to be the perfect place for training a novel specialist. Cyril joined the SSP (self-service platform) group that works on the interface of the self-service platform for the clients. Such a product – clearly visible to a user – is easier to explain and does not require too deep immersion at the very beginning.

What did become a challenge for the team was the balance between the security of the clients, which always comes first, and the trainee’s level of access for understanding the workflows.

As AdTech Holding already had experience with interns, its policy and security specialists have developed exact guidelines on the access rights that can be provided to temporary employees. These guidelines completely protect the customers from any data breach but, of course, limit trainees’ opportunities to navigate the product from all sides. 

Alexandra: The level of access our trainees have at the moment is more than enough to learn successfully. However, there are ideas on how to provide them with extended rights without abusing the customers’ privacy. Once these ideas can be implemented, the traineeships will enter a completely different level.

The Results and Opinions

The internship has turned out to be a beneficial experience for both the team and Cyril. As Georgiy Sivkov, the SSP Team Product Owner, puts it,

This experience provided us with the opportunity not only to discover talent at a minimal cost potentially but also to see our work through the eyes of a newcomer. We received new visions that we can now use to integrate new employees and analyze what we can improve. Moreover, we got a fresh perspective on the product: for example, Cyril identified and described numerous frontend issues that we no longer noticed due to our ‘blurred vision.’

In the end, this experience allowed us to strengthen our team and gain new insights, confirming the importance of investing time and resources in the training and development of young professionals. I am confident that engaging interns has tremendous potential for our product department.

Cyril also found his internship an exciting and useful experience. Here is his feedback:

Honestly, when I started the internship, I wanted to find answers to my personal questions, which involved “Will the QA job be interesting in reality?” or “Will I be able to handle real tasks?”. I did find them, as well as a full understanding of the processes within the team and the development and support of web products.

I realized that my idea of the job and reality did not differ much, in fact. I managed to work with a real product and help improve it, communicate with a large number of IT professionals, and expand my knowledge base. I believe that such an internship gives everything a beginner needs. At first, I got dizzy from the tons of new information, but then it became clear and simple. Overall, it was a fantastic experience immersing myself in a completely different reality than I had before.

At the end of his internship, Cyril got a recommendation letter and a certificate from AdTech Holding, as well as professional help with LinkedIn account updates. 

While wishing the best of luck in Cyril’s career path, we continue working on integrating young specialists into the AdTech industry. One of our next projects related to this is the AdStep Summer Internship Program, specifically developed to train professionals in the field of IT and Sales within the AdTech niche.

Armed with the best practices we adopted while working with interns, we are ready to contribute to employment and education in Cyprus and worldwide.

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