The InterOperability Lab is an amazing place overflowing with innovation. Testing for huge companies like HP, Intel and Microsoft means that the best and brightest flock the IOL in the hopes that they can make connections with people inside these major companies. This can make the IOL seem pretty imposing, things move quickly and there is a lot of knowledge necessary to know what is happening.
When I came into the job I was completely overwhelmed. People kept talking about QSFPs and Fast Link Pulses, technobabble flying over my head faster than I thought possible. I truly had no idea what was going on, and was totally justified in my confusion. I couldn’t program in Java, I couldn’t tell the difference between a link partner and a DUT. As a biology major, why should I be expected to know all this stuff when I haven’t taken any classes on it? The fact of the matter was that I wasn’t expected to know it.
It took me a little while to feel comfortable but once I started asking questions I was met with incredibly simple analogies for the complex protocols in place. As soon as I told them that I may need some extra explanation to get up to the same speed, they happily obliged. A QSFP is a just a kind of cable, a Fast Link Pulse is the first type of communication between two devices. Precise, to the point and easy to understand, the IOL really did it’s best to make sure I knew what was going on at all times.
It has been four months since I was hired and as of now I can talk about Auto-Negotiation protocol with the best of them. To the point that I am writing a 15 page paper to be presented at a national conference. My education has gone so far that, I could easily find myself in a high tech job once I graduate. I found a job that would work around my summer classes, allow me to stay on campus and open up an entire new industry to my career options.
It is also worth mentioning that I am in no way a burden to my test group. With 90% of the testers being traditional majors (Computer Science, Electrical Engineering and Information Technology), a large portion of them think along the same lines. I have been finding bugs that no one thought to look for, writing guides specifically to help new non-traditional majors learn the testing. I provide a new outlook and help to make sure our processes are clean and professional from all possible viewpoints.
As of now, applying to the IOL is the single best thing I have done for my future career. I could not recommend it enough, especially to those of “non-traditional” majors, from political science to acting. There is nothing to be lost and an entire industry to be gained. Do me and yourself the favor and try it out.