Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Startup: one year anniversary

I've been with my current startup company for a year now.  When I first joined, I posted about whether "startup specialist" was a specific subset of test engineering.  I hedged on the answer to the question back then - today I'll claim yes.  I'll try to explain why.

Here are the four skillsets I thought a test engineer at a startup needed: 
1)  software skills
2)  general knowledge of mechanical and electrical engineering
3)  data storage and analysis ability
4)  people skills

Over the past decade I've worked in 4 engineering startups where I was the only (or first) test engineer.  In the three startups before this latest one I used #1 & #4 always and #2 & #3 about a 1/3 of the time.  But in this latest startup I've had to rely on all four extensively.  For example:

  • I've learned more about databases in the past year than I ever thought I'd need to.  
  • I've stretched out my knowledge of semiconductors quite a bit.  
  • I have to write some form of code (whether it is LV or just scripting for data analysis) practically every week.

These are skills that I never exercised extensively as a test engineer in a bigger company.  So, I think that proves my point.

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