I've been a tester for 15 years and am now expected to provide leadership to junior testers. What words of wisdom...
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can I give them as a software testing mentor?
You have much to teach them, but also remember that the field is changing rapidly. First, encourage them to be continuous learners. The best testers are constantly challenging themselves, whether it be by learning the user domain better, taking courses to expand their horizons or connecting with thought leaders in the field. A tester can't simply be "heads-down" on the current project and expect to have a thriving career.
Testers also have to stay on top of changes, both within the field and within their company. Pay attention to where the business is going and get involved in adding value to the business. At this stage of your career, there is more to your job than just testing. Know the bigger picture and make sure the junior testers do too.
Even if you're not a vocal person, remember that the best leadership is by example. As a software testing mentor, set a great example for them on a day-to-day basis. If you're not already, engage the leading testers in the field; they are very accessible, especially on Twitter. Champion the career development of your testers. If there is training or a conference that you think will help them, go to bat for them with management.
Last, be transparent. If you are a manager or lead, you need to communicate what you know to them. Share your experiences and share whatever information may be made available to you by your management. This accomplishes a couple of things. First, it portrays you as more credible. Second, it fosters a sense of shared teamwork; everyone wants to know that what they are doing is important. Lastly, it also gives them something to look forward to in their career, to expand their portfolio and get further involved in different types of testing, as well as the company goals. You are establishing continuity for your company as well as building your reputation as a software testing mentor.
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