BeQA Today is a social project that teaches people with physical disabilities to test software for free. For several years and counting, Daxx has been its partner and financial sponsor. This year, we sent the organizers several workstations so that more BeQA students could be equipped for study. Wishing patience and good results to the testers-to-be!
Oleksii Zaichenko, a co-founder and a mentor at BeQA Today, has kindly answered our questions and told us about the latest news on the project. Keep reading to learn more.
How is the “BeQA Today” project evolving today?
The 4th batch of students has finished the course. In total, 10 people out of 107 made it to the very end. I’m happy to say that it was the greatest number of registrations we’ve had so far.
Actually, the number of graduates was 15. The thing is, we give diplomas only to those students who proved to be highly-skilled Junior QA specialists. This is our firm principle. This time, we decided to give a chance to receive diplomas to those guys who made it to the end but didn’t have high ratings and performance. It was possible on one condition. They had to get a job on a project or perform testing as a freelancer until the beginning of September. For the record, the course officially ended in June. One person managed to do it! It was Ihor Veremeev. He took a 6-month course for the second time and managed to complete it. After the first unsuccessful try, he asked the mentors for materials to prepare for the next year. So I wasn’t surprised in his particular case. Bravo, Ihor! You can read his post here.
How has the pandemic affected the project?
This year, it didn’t affect us at all. We completely switched to online mode during the 1st wave of pandemic back in 2020. To my mind, that was the best decision. As of today, we don’t depend on the location anymore. There’s no need to raise money to bring students to Kyiv (it’s the cost of a two-way train ticket, accommodation, and other expenses, which resulted in a fair amount of money). Plus, we were always limited in the number of seats per course.
Switching to a new reality was tough enough. We had to act fast and ad hoc. The study process has already begun, but we managed to nail it in a month. Show me someone who can work on a tough deadline better than IT specialists. Surprisingly, online mode has solved another issue we’ve been facing for a long time — how to expand the geography. We had an idea to launch branch offices in other cities and partner with IT clusters and launch such courses within them. The remote mode has changed everything. Now people from other countries (Ukrainians by origin) could have registered for our course but they didn’t make it to the end, though.
Tell us about the study process. Do you provide technical lectures only?
The study process lasts for 6 months (6.5-7 months sometimes). This year, we decided to improve our already close to perfect program.
- We added more practice.
Now we team up with real startups and projects. Our students begin to test their apps after 2 months of education. It’s a win-win situation. We help startups save money (since it’s critical for most of them) and get a thorough test report carried out by a team of 50+ people. (All reports are being compiled into one and carefully checked by mentors — testers with 3+ years of experience). Our students hone their skills on real projects and put their knowledge into practice.
- We created a pleasant environment.
It’s important for mentors not to turn learning into a cold theory. They want to get to know their new students and break the ice. It’s a challenge for them as well to manage a team of QA novices. Everyone should feel comfortable.
- We included guest lectures.
All lectures on Software Testing fundamentals were prepared solely by the lecturers from “BeQA Today.” Later on, we decided to bring in guest speakers. A lot of them have 5+ years of experience in Software Testing. It’s a good chance for QA pros who can’t thoroughly devote themselves to the project but would like to participate. Now they hold open webinars from time to time.
What does ‘open’ mean? It means that a speaker conducts a webinar not only for our students, but for everyone who wants to visit it. We post open events on our Facebook page, and everyone can come and listen to the lecture. We held 50 webinars in 6 months. 50! That’s insane! The number of participants was huge. Show me at least one educational platform or a company that carries out so many FREE open lectures in half a year!
What advantage did it offer for everyone? Firstly, the speakers greatly contributed to our project. Secondly, they could practice their public speaking skills and gain hands-on experience before presenting at some IT conferences. As for the students, we understood that the study process should run smoothly. We made sure that the topic of a guest lecture was either familiar for them or they were studying it at the moment. No confusion as a result!
- We put emphasis on spoken English.
We put our students in conditions that made them step out of their comfort zone. All the requirements, test documentation they had to write, and stand-ups were completely in English. In the future, we plan to find an English tutor for them. I’m sure it will make learning English way more effective.
What achievements are you particularly proud of?
Our greatest achievement is that a BeQA Today certificate is ranked as high as a CFA certificate in the world of finance. It confirms that our graduates are one of the best Junior QAs on the local market. The Junior QA market is one of the most overheated and competitive. Yet, 5 of our graduates managed to land a job in 1,5 months. That’s a good result.
I also believe that collaboration with startups and helping them to test their products has a tangible social input in developing new products within our country. This year, we collaborated with 4 startups.
Last but not least, these are guest lectures. They started out as a little experiment but brought a fantastic result in the end.
Do you cooperate with the media these days?
Not really. In 2021, we didn’t focus on collaboration with the media that much. Our priority was to officially register a “BeQA Today” as an NGO. Now it’s way easier for us to cooperate with IT companies and other interested parties.
Plus, we’ve reconsidered our strategy. We decided to divide it into 2 departments. The first group is responsible for courses (that’s me, Olya Malinina, Volodymyr Glushkov, and Yaroslava Bagriy). The second group takes charge of new inclusive areas (Maryna Shevchenko, Yulia Resenchuk, and Oleksandr Maidanyuk). It’s our so-called R&D department. Julia has recently created her own platform aimed to help people with disabilities find a job. So we all share the same mission either way. Watch an interview with Yulia on YouTube.
What are your plans for the near future?
We’d like to expand the pool of courses and add such specialties as front-end, test automation, and back-end. But it’s hard to do. The harsh truth is that there are not so many enthusiasts out there — people who would put their efforts into the project every day and won’t get a penny in return. Just like us.
To conclude, we’re deeply grateful to Daxx for their support of our project and understanding its true value — the way we embrace it. We hope to see our graduates a part of your company in the future!