Rebel Tech stories: From Biology Major to QA Master, embracing life’s turns

Tell me a bit about yourself. I’m Laura and I have been working as a QA engineer for almost 7 years now, having spent the last two and counting as part of the RebelDot team. Breaking into tech has been a huge surprise for me and everyone around me, as I had no connection to this industry when I first started. I majored in Biology and my dream was to become a Researcher in Genetics.

Tell me a bit about yourself

I’m Laura and I have been working as a QA engineer for almost 7 years now, having spent the last two and counting as part of the RebelDot team. Breaking into tech has been a huge surprise for me and everyone around me, as I had no connection to this industry when I first started. I majored in Biology and my dream was to become a Researcher in Genetics. Turns out, it wasn’t as “doable” as I originally thought, and after I started my journey as a QA Engineer, I forgot all about my “other” life, as I like to call it.

I’m open to everything, thoughts, ideas, and everything new. Saying this makes me realize that I actually always say this, at the office too, and then I see everyone walking past my desk and I’m frowning the whole day at the screen. It’s the specific “I’m thinking” frown. Jokes aside, yes, I’m open, and I like to think I’m fun too. I come from a fun family that’s always ready to turn every gathering into a comedic relief event. Especially my dad. There’s just something about connecting through a shared sense of humor, right? I love traveling and I always have the next trip booked in advance. Whenever I go someplace new, learn something about it, or witness a different culture, I feel my soul’s enriched and my mind a clearer space.

I always have music on. Constantly. Non-stop. I read everything that I can put my hands on. Growing older and maturing, I realized there’s so many things I don’t know, and maybe not even enough time to learn, so I do my best to accumulate as much as possible. I’m now going through a book about the World’s history, from prehistoric times to present.

Take me to your ‘Origins story’—Walk me through your ‘Whys’, why Biology, why QA, why RebelDot?

Biology’s an easy answer. I always had a passion for it. My parents’ ambition was for me to become a doctor, but I had other plans. The “battle” between my ambitions and their expectations lasted for a while, but around the 12th grade, I sat this exam that was the equivalent of your biology college admission exam. I took my chances with it, got a fairly high grade, and immediately decided that I was bound to become a biologist. That’s how I got into Biology. During my 1st year of college, I loved everything that started with “bio”, Biology, Biophysics, Molecular Biology, and so on. Looking back, it felt both right and wrong for me at the same time. It does sound contrarian indeed, but I am telling you it perfectly reflects my feelings from back in those days.

To love something and not want to pursue it anymore, because, deep down, you know there is a lot more that could be done but isn’t. I used to see this as a personal failure.

And here I’m talking about the limitations that we have in general in many different subjects in Romania. My constant turmoil between feeling like I’m failing, myself especially, and the perpetual question of what’s next, eventually got me to a low point from an academic point of view and drive overall. My motivation was drowning and with it, myself too. Despite all this, I managed to push through and graduate, ultimately being happy and fulfilled with having explored so much of what I loved for so long.

But on a whim, after finishing my studies, I got a job at a game testing company. They were onboarding people with no prior experience, teaching them from scratch the ins and outs of QA. It was so insightful I ended up working there for 3 years, on night shifts. I’m very grateful for the start of my career as a QA engineer. Not so much for having to learn how to sleep at night again, though.

After that, I started working in the Automotive sector, which I again loved, as I’ve always liked cars. When the pandemic hit, I felt I needed to make a few adjustments as I was adapting to working from home. One of my dear friends was working for a company putting together scientific articles and I got excited at the idea of editing scientific articles, as it was a part of me, one that I wasn’t feeding at the time. It was a nice way of connecting with the scientific community and practicing what I’ve learnt, but the desire to continue pursuing technology was even greater.

And so, after applying to a series of positions available in the local tech landscape, Oana from RebelDot reached out to me and suggested we’d have a chat.I interviewed with RebelDot and in the first ten minutes of the discussion, I knew that I wanted to join the team. I enjoyed the interview experience, Oana’s presence, and everything that followed. I was also excited about being part of the QA community.

QA RebelDot career

How would you describe your job to a child?

‘Okay, kid, see those toys there? They work perfectly fine, right? When you press a button that’s supposed to make the toy, say, sing, it sings. Well, that’s what I do, I make sure that everything works as it’s supposed to, and if they should sing, I make sure they sing.’

I work in QA which is like saying that nothing is perfect as it is.

I don’t believe in ‘perfect’, but I do believe in a growth mindset—you can always improve, no matter how great something is. I think this is the healthiest approach, mentally too – knowing and accepting your faults and being ok with them. The biggest satisfaction of my job is having people around that understand this. Oh, and clients that are delighted by this process and the growth mindset, actively support it, and show their appreciation.

You’ve mentioned mental health, a very ‘buzz’ topic to talk about nowadays. How do you relate to the subject, what’s your view on it? And do you have a support system?

It’s no secret that I’ve struggled with my anxiety over the past few years. I don’t take shame in it, and I don’t hide it from my team either. I need to be open about it because the emotions of someone with anxiety are very strong, and I need my team to acknowledge that to properly connect with one another. Anxiety is hard to overcome, and you need to put in the extra effort to learn to juggle it. People in these kinds of situations need therapists, specialists, and a lot of support from those close to them. I do work on myself, and I think I’m in a very good place now, compared to past years. I’ve learned to live more fearlessly and express myself.

The Rebel team is great. I had moments in which I felt like I needed a break, and I was honest and open about it to my colleagues. Here, we view recharging as a natural phase, and not a weakness, which I find to be a very healthy approach.

The relationship between colleagues is extremely important for one’s mental health. I think it’s vital to have an open relationship with your colleagues once you’re confident that it’s a safe space and you can speak your mind and open your heart without repercussions. I found exactly this in RebelDot, a team where I can openly discuss my hopes and fears, be it in relation to products, projects, tasks, or more personal issues.

This was the one aspect that has improved my mental health the most. Detaching myself from everything that wasn’t serving me anymore and focusing on my own growth.

As for RebelDot, I want to refer more to the Rebels, as we, the kind-hearted and driven crazy bunch make the company what it is. Whether we talk about a place, a job, a company, or a city break, it doesn’t matter where you are, but who you’re surrounded by. My team is an important part of my journey and I’m happy that we get to be exactly like we are, transparent and focused on helping each other reach new heights.

Laura Razaila QA fun at RebelDot

How do you stay motivated?

The biggest satisfaction is seeing people proud and happy with your work; that your work is impactful! This is something that’s keeping me just as excited about working with the Rebels as I was at the beginning of this journey. I’m always in a position where I can learn and further develop new skills, explore different areas of what it means to innovate when it comes to digital products and experience many of the things that I love to do the most.

Final Thoughts

Laura’s story is beyond heartening, as she’s a great example of resilience, adaptability, and openness in the face of the unknown. Behind her smile, her warm presence, and mesmerizing personality, lies her complex self—the inspiring woman who faced life with an open heart and an open mind, always adapted, and worked so hard for everything that she is and has right now.

Flavia Mocan

I’m deeply committed to fostering an equitable society. My goal is to contribute to the creation of a world where work is valued and treated with fairness, and where organizations strike a balance between work and life for their teams. I strongly advocate for mental health, inclusion, and equity, and firmly believe in empowering the youth to shape a better future.

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