‘TestAway’ has been a phenomenal addition to my life both personally and professionally. I feel it has the potential of becoming the next big thing in the community space.
And I am saying this without any adornment based on my experience and interaction in the two high-energy events of Goa and Shimla and also as someone who is involved from day 0 to official cessation.
A look at the Goa and Shimla
Goa and Shimla TestAway both had their own flavour and enthusiasm.
I love sunsets over the ocean and Goa is certainly a good place to experience this.
Imagine this topped with a private luxury villa housing swimming pool and a terrific set of Testers from different corners of the country.
After Goa, the next TestAway was planned keeping in mind the call of the Testers to have another one soon.
Originally the TestAway was thought to be an annual occurrence but we all know two TestAways has happened in less than 8 months.
After an event in a coastal backdrop, it was not less than obvious to have the next one in the Mountains. Shimla ticked the most number of boxes wrt to accessibility and availability.
And what an event it has been high voltage, high amplitude, high altitude everything high minus the attendees 😀
Preparation and Screening
The joy I was talking about is yet to appear 🙂 If you wondered what goes in making the TestAway event, stay glued, I would be leaking some details 😛
TestAway is based on the residence learning program, the concept is, selected Testers are invited for a 3-day learning and experience program.
Almost all the attendees are strangers and all we do in the 3 days is chat-share-connect-motivate-learn. It really works. Like when was the last time 15 different minds from different specialities and all equally passionate brainstorm, chat testing for 3 days and 3 nights. Imagine the outcomes of such elegant deep discussions you always wished to have with someone like-minded, won’t that be amazing?
Let’s talk a bit about the planning part. The planning always begins with a hunt for a location and then for the venue. Easy said than done. I find this as one of the most draining tasks in the overall planning and execution.
Risks are pretty high in the sense that what if the location or venue doesn’t work out. 20s of calls are made to hotels, resorts, villas, homestays for availability and pricing. Then the shortlisted properties are again evaluated on 50+ parameters.
Finding a balance between the luxury and pricing and negotiating with uninterested hoteliers is what I don’t love much 🙂 But that’s what the 1st step is for kickoff.
Next set of activities involve thinking about workshops, round table topics, games and other schedule-related things. While the TestAway page and related pages like invitation forms, etc are made live, other items like branding items, welcome kits are planned and orders are provided.
Stationery accessories itself has a list of 60+ different items to collate. All these activities too take ample time and energy as affording a 360-degree merchandise partner is out of the question. Moolya Software Testing Pvt. Ltd. do support TestAway while being a co-sponsor for the branding kits.
With less than 45 days left, screening candidates becomes a daily job. Sometimes they are busy, sometimes we, multiple calls are made explaining the concept of the TestAway, general QnA and seeking their expectations from the event.
It’s not always this straightforward and sometimes it turns funny too when candidates ask the places of the city tour that they will be taken.
We get some relief from the preparation once the squad is ready and WhatsApp group is created. Initially, the traction of interaction among the attendees is relaxed but once it picks up that fails to slow down and great relationships starts forging.
Leaving for the venue
Post Goa, the core team thought of reaching the venue one day in advance as it would give us crucial time to plan out last-minute details. That was the reason we left for Shimla with one extra day in hand.
Mumbai to Delhi was a late evening flight. With 2+ hours in hand, we had assumed we would get the prebooked AC bus from Delhi to Shimla without any serious effort.
Unfortunately, the Ola driver was new to Delhi just like us and we were doing circles of ISBT without knowing ours has already departed. That 15-minute flurry from ISBT to ISBT (don’t ask me details :D) with all the branding items, sippers, T-Shirts, our luggage was crazy.
Drenched in sweat we were running with an inner surety coated with the hope that our bus can be late 😀 It wasn’t, our bus had left the terminal. Luck favoured us with a Himachal State Transport bus for that night, without double thought we boarded the bus.
That night didn’t stop entertaining us. From a young guy, who left open his bladder pressure inside the running bus to an old chacha threatening fellow passengers citing himself as the star of Shimla. Nevertheless, there should be ups and downs otherwise we know what a straight line in ECG means.
On the venue
D-Day is quite special for me as I get to meet most of the attendees for the first time and welcoming them is a good feeling. Post this, the clocks move super fast. Before we realise that we are making amazing conversations and friends we realise oh 3 days have passed and its time to bid bye.
As a volunteer, sometimes we are not able to participate in expert discussions which we wish to. But this never stopped me in putting my points or getting in touch with attendees and talk about something I liked.
One thing we have been lucky in both Goa and Shimla is that we had very generous caretakers. Suresh Ji and Deshraj Ji in White Haven Shimla never said no to any request made for extra aloo paratha or green Himalayan apples or extra cup of Tea. They very smilingly extended their help in whatever way they could be it putting our TestAway flag or making arrangements for cab on runtime. Our Shimla attendees were aware of the effort put by them and reflected their gratitude courteously.
Its very heavy on heart to leave the place knowing all these moments are not going to continue or come back. And its heavy on the brain when the tempo traveller from Gozo cabs you booked from Shimla to Delhi eats up your brain for 2 hours in midnight at the Delhi Airport to settle out the unreasonable tolls and taxes.
In the end
I am left with a truth that Testing can be fun. I am left with event memories I do not wish to erase. I am left with friends I would always like to be in touch with. I am left with photos which I would see again and again and which will make me smile. I am left with a dream to repeat.
Disclaimer: This post is my personal memoir and does not represent anything from my employer or The Test Tribe community.
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