So I recently finished my two weeks in California after starting to work for my new company Electric Cloud, and now I'm back in Sweden.

Electric Cloud is a company that specializes in DevOps tools and has for the last decade developed (amongst other products) a tool called ElectricAccelerator, a tool specifically built for distributing Makefile based build jobs over a cluster of machines (the speedup is very impressive).
It was for the team that develops ElectricAccelerator that I was recruited as a tester (flashy official title: Sen. QA Engineer)
I'm working from home in Sweden and we will communicate via email, IM, Skype Voice&Video and phone calls.
And although it will be a new challenge to work like that with a team that is based 9 hours away in another time zone, I'm confident the job will be fantastic.

So this has been the reason why I've been in California for two weeks to get to know my team members, my manager, the company and the product.
But how do you make sure that you get as much information as you can to take with you back home to Sweden after only two weeks?
You do what any good tester does naturally... you ask questions... and more questions... and more questions... and then challenge assumptions... over and over again.

Of course it really helps if you have colleges that keep pouring information over you (take notes... take notes...) and are really nice and friendly.
But in the end it is really up to you to make sure that you get all the information and knowledge you need before going home.

So coming to my company I had already made up a list of things that I had to know or do before going home, and everything else would just be a bonus:

General IT&Environment:

  • How does the VPN work and has it been setup ok?

  • Which are all the important network paths that I need to know (your "pub", i.e files, docs, SW binaries etc), both for the Windows and the Unix environment?

  • Is my email setup properly?

  • Do I have a user account?


  • Where is the documentation (a great place to start for any tester)

  • Installation of the software, 

  • How to prepare the different test machines, deploying the OS:es, and configuration?

  • General usage of ElectricAccelerator

  • Source code?

  • Previous bugs and known issues?

  • Ongoing and coming work/features?

  • What different environments (OS:es, GMake version etc) do we normally test?

  • What test activities do we perform and how do we test (functional, system, non-functional, manual, automated etc)?

Social interaction:

  • Meet all the nice people from HR that has helped me (especially during "The Dusseldorf" incident on my way there)

  • IT department

  • Finances

  • Socialize a lot with my team

  • My closest manager

  • Marketing (as I will continue to go to conferences as a speaker in the future as well)

As you notice one big thing on my list was the social part.
It's really important to got to know all the people you will be working with on a new job, especially in my case when based remote.
Of course I also got to know a whole lot more during my trip such as general background and history for ElectricAccelerator (a.k.a "Gossip" ;-) ), company history and a lot about California.
It's been a fantastic trip and I feel very excited and ready for the new challenge when I will work from home.

But the most important lesson when you start a new job is this:
Make a plan for yourself about what you need to know, ask questions continually and in the meantime question all assumptions that exsist.
This is something we testers are good at when we test a product... so why not apply those skills when you start a new job as well?