5 Minutes with AJ Kostrzewa

10th March 2021

Amy Brierley

March 8th was International Women's Day. To celebrate, we spoke to some of the brilliant women working at SamsonVT to find out why they chose a career in STEM.

What is your role at SamsonVT and what does it include day-to-day?

I’m a tester and I’m responsible for the quality of the software that our customers use – that’s the simple answer. I help to gather requirements and solve any problems we encounter during the software development process.

Tell us more about how you got here: what experience did you have before and did you always want to get into the tech industry?

In my teens I used to play a lot of video games and I always thought I would be either a professional gamer or an IT technician. I’ve been interested in computers since I can remember, but my journey to software development was not exactly traditional! I was working as a call centre advisor and managed to convince the IT department to let me through their door by crashing our software multiple times. One year later I was given a chance to work as a foundation test analyst, after many conversations with the Test Lead. When my lead asked me what I wanted to do in 3 years time and I said ‘I want to have your job’ he laughed, but fast forward 3 years and I landed my first test lead position. It was thanks to the training my lead provided me with that I’m here, which is why I believe that a lead is responsible for everyone’s progression.

"When my lead asked me what I wanted to do in 3 years time and I said ‘I want to have your job’ he laughed, but fast forward 3 years and I landed my first test lead position."

AJ Kostrzewa

What do you think it takes to be successful in your role?

Be curious, stubborn and ask a lot of questions. Many people will tell you that you need a test accreditation or a certificate to be a good tester – you don’t. If you’re curious and like puzzles this job is for you.

What’s your favourite thing about working in your role?

I enjoy the freedom that comes with the job. I’m able to write my own test strategies and execute testing the way I find best. That kind of freedom is not a very common thing. In most companies you have to follow guidance and strategies that have been put in place already, so I’m extremely happy SamsonVT has put their trust in my capabilities and lets me work the way I want. Another very important thing that we have at SamsonVT is collaboration, we work together for our success and everyone is always available to help, pair or brainstorm to solve any challenges

Is there anybody who has inspired you to get where you are now?

My mum was my inspiration as cheesy as it might sound! She doesn’t work in IT but she taught me to never give up on my goals and aspirations.

Do you have any top tips and/or advice for other women aspiring to work in STEM (Science, technology, engineering and mathematics)?

Don’t let anyone tell you something is impossible. Collaborate with people and always ask questions when you’re not sure of something. I have experienced gender bias when I was working within esports. Nobody would take me seriously no matter how hard I tried to prove myself, and so my advice is this – don’t measure up to anyone but yourself. Set yourself clear goals and follow through.

"Don’t let anyone tell you something is impossible. Collaborate with people and always ask questions when you’re not sure of something."

AJ Kostrzewa

This years’ International Women’s Day theme is #choosetochallenge: what does this mean to you and how do you think we can all work together to challenge gender bias and encourage more women into STEM roles?

There are a lot of people talking about gender bias these days and I believe we’re heading in the right direction with more and more women in tech every year. It’s up to people who are leaders to open the doors to professionals, no matter the gender. So, if there’s a position opening at your company make sure that everyone gets an equal chance during the process and if you think something is wrong speak out!

Let us know, who are you championing this International Women's Day?

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