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Digital Academy: Empowering Women in Technology

Vendavo< Vendavo June 29, 2023

Vendavo is proud to partner with Czechitas, a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing diversity and digital proficiency among women in the world of IT. Read on to get the latest information on the partnership and important work Vendavo is doing to strengthen diversity and empower women.

It has been two years since our last update about our work with Czechitas Academy, and we are thrilled to provide an update on the developments that have taken place. Despite the challenges brought forth by the COVID-19 pandemic, we have adapted to a hybrid mode of operation, combining the benefits of both offline and online learning experiences.

Hybrid learning provides the best of both worlds. Attendees now have the flexibility to choose whether they prefer to attend lessons in person or join sessions remotely. This arrangement ensures that our students can engage with the program in a way that suits their unique needs. Moreover, all lessons are recorded, allowing participants to revisit the material and reinforce their learning at their convenience.

Over the last two years, we have witnessed the remarkable success of our test academies held in Ostrava during autumn 2022 and spring 2023. More than 50 women have graduated and we are proud to report an impressive 60% success ratio in finding jobs after completing the program. It’s amazing to see these graduates embarking on new career paths in the field of IT. Not to mention, five academy graduates are now working at Vendavo.

Vendavo has played a significant role in supporting the academy’s success. Our commitment includes financial assistance and resource allocation – both people resources and physical space. Two-thirds of all academy classes were hosted at Vendavo’s Ostrava office. The Vendavo team for Czechitas includes five lecturers, a mentor, and a coach. Our goal is to provide invaluable guidance and support to students throughout their journey.

Czechitas and Vendavo Group Photo

Vendavo Employees Reflect on Commitment to Digital Academy

To celebrate how far we’ve come, and share more about where we’re going with Czechitas, we asked Vendavo employees to share their perspectives.

Q&A with Robin Weiss – Father of the Czechitas Academy

Q&A with Robin Weiss – Father of the Czechitas Academy

Robin Weiss, Product Owner at Vendavo and Lecturer at Czechitas, is affectionately known as the father of the academy. He has played a pivotal role in its establishment and growth. His unwavering dedication and passion have shaped a program that empowers women in the software testing industry and fosters a vibrant community of knowledge sharing and support.

Q: How did it all start?

Robin: In 2020, a group of individuals passionate about software testing came together to help better educate and guide women in testing. We wanted to create something unique, departing from the existing options in the Czech market. We developed a strategy for comprehensive education for junior software testers, adapting to the evolving testing landscape. Today, the digital academy looks lot different than it did 3 years ago, but we formed an excellent foundation.

Q: It’s true that there have been many changes since the beginning. What were the most important changes?

Robin: Two crucial changes made the biggest difference from my perspective. First, we introduced a real-life project, enabling students to experience software testing in a practical setting – the fun stuff, and the boring stuff. Teams made up of PO, developers, scrum masters, and QAs worked together to deliver a web application, bridging the gap between theory and practice – which was kind of an after thought in the first version of the digital academy.

Secondly, we streamlined the curriculum, focusing on lesson quality rather than overwhelming students with excessive topics. We really narrowed our focus, mainly reducing automation and programming that were moved to its own advance course. This approach ensured students understood the “why” behind their actions as quality assurance professionals.

Q: What motivates you to spend so much time and energy in Czechitas?

Robin: I’m motivated by several factors. First, early on in my career there were a number of people that helped me tremendously. I want to give back and provide the same for others. To be able to help someone grow in their career and achieve success warms my heart. We have incredible graduates who have achieved massive success, even right here within Vendavo.

Second, I’m passionate about addressing the gender disparity in IT. I believe that women bring unique perspectives and skills to the industry. Women in CZ do not have the same chance to join IT so I am glad we can make it easier for them.

Third, I love teaching and find it rewarding to help individuals with no IT background learn about testing, programming, UX, and other topics.

Finally, my involvement has benefited me in my own career as well. This community is comprised of exceptional IT experts, and being involved has been invaluable for my professional growth.

Through Robin Weiss’s leadership and commitment, Czechitas Academy has empowered women in IT, fostered a supportive community, and contributed to a more inclusive tech landscape.

Q& A with Vojtěch Barta - Driving Innovation Through Theory and Practice

Q&A with Vojtěch Barta – Driving Innovation Through Theory and Practice

Vojtěch Barta, Quality Assurance Lead at Vendavo, and a seasoned member of Czechitas, has been instrumental in ensuring a well-balanced curriculum that combines theoretical knowledge with practical skills. With a focus on empowering beginners and fostering a deep understanding of software development, Vojtěch has played a vital role in shaping the academy’s success.

Q: You have been involved with Czechitas for a long time. What reflections do you have?

Vojtěch: I believe striking a balance between theoretical and practical knowledge is crucial. While juniors often gravitate towards the practical aspects of testing, like writing test cases or working with APIs, it’s essential to grasp the underlying theory and comprehend development processes, different testing approaches, and diverse thinking styles. Achieving this balance has been my primary focus, as it equips students with a well-rounded skill set.

Q: It’s great to have someone who is so dedicated to theory. What can you tell me about what motivates you?

Vojtěch: First, I am passionate about teaching and embracing new challenges. I had experience teaching adults, but guiding junior students has been something new for me and it brought new perspective and learning. It has made me a better tester and a better person in general.

Witnessing the transformative impact the academy has on students’ lives is immensely rewarding. You literally trigger their career change and offer them critical knowledge that helps them succeed. It’s very self-motivating.

I believe our industry requires a change. The change has started long time ago, but there’s still room for improvement. While testing continues to gain importance, there is a need for fresh talent that can contribute to breaking bad habits, dispelling misconceptions, and overcoming simplifications within the field. Well-educated juniors play a crucial role in elevating the testing world to new heights.

Lastly, I am proud that we offer women an opportunity to navigate their path in IT more smoothly. Greater gender diversity brings greater perspectives and enriches our industry with different points of view.

Through Vojtěch Barta’s commitment to a balanced curriculum – a mix of theory and practice – Czechitas Academy is shaping the future of testing while fostering a diverse and inclusive IT community.

Q&A with Jan Novotný - Empowering Junior Testers through Technical Expertise

Q&A with Jan Novotný – Empowering Junior Testers through Technical Expertise

Jan Novotný, Software Engineer at Vendavo, brings a wealth of technical expertise and a passion for sharing knowledge. Having previously served as a coach, Jan’s transition to a lecturer role has allowed him to contribute even more to the growth of aspiring junior testers. His dedication stems from a desire to introduce newcomers to the IT world while refining his own career and presentation skills.

Q: Jan as a new member, can you tell us why you decided to join Czechitas this year?

Jan: Well, actually, this is my second year with Czechitas. In my first year, I was involved as a coach for various lessons. Now, as a lecturer, I find great fulfillment in teaching and guiding new individuals entering the IT industry. Sharing what I have learned over the years has always been a goal of mine. My involvement with Czechitas has contributed to personal growth in terms of career development and enhancing my presentation skills.

Q: What lessons do you teach, and why do you consider them important for junior testers?

Jan: I focus on teaching one of the essential hard skills for testers, SQL. Almost every system relies on a database, typically a relational one like MySQL or SQL Server.

For example, consider an e-commerce system that displays products organized into categories and pages. While we can see the products in the user interface (UI), it is crucial to validate the accuracy of this data.

We teach our junior testers to write queries that check if the displayed products match the expected results. Additionally, data preparation, including insertion and modification, is a fundamental skill for our testers.

Q: As a developer, what is your perspective on testing?

Jan: Testing holds a pivotal role in the software development process, ensuring the quality and reliability of the software being created.

While some developers believe they can test their code independently, I hold a different view. Feedback is invaluable to me, as it propels my work to the next level. Having another person examine your development work offers diverse perspectives and make the product better. When developers and testers collaborate effectively, there are no limits to what we can achieve.

Jan Novotný’s commitment to sharing his technical expertise and nurturing the growth of junior testers at Czechitas brings a fresh perspective to the academy. By emphasizing the importance of SQL skills and promoting collaboration between developers and testers, Jan contributes to a holistic approach to software testing and development.

Q&A with Matěj Haša - Empowering Junior Testers with Test Automation

Q&A with Matěj Haša – Empowering Junior Testers with Test Automation

Matěj Haša, QA Automation Team Lead at Vendavo, teaches test automation in the academy. Despite the focus on junior testers, Matěj recognizes the significance of automation in today’s fast-paced software delivery. While covering basic concepts, he provides hands-on experience using a low code automation framework.

Q: How does test automation fit into the academy, and why teach only basic concepts?

Matěj: Software tends to be delivered faster and automation plays an important role in this process. Although our course targets junior testers, we cover the essentials. Test automation requires technical knowledge, and, in this course, we do not have much space for programming lessons. We use a low code automation framework for practical experience, helping graduates understand automation’s purpose and empowering them to write tests effectively.

Q: I’ve heard that not only students, but also lecturers learn a lot during the academy. Can you share your biggest learning?

Matěj: I could not agree more. Both students and lecturers learn throughout the academy. Personally, standing in front of an audience is a step out of my comfort zone, So, with every presentation, I am trying to tune the performance a little bit and learn how to share knowledge with other people in the most natural way possible. Students’ dedication inspires me, proving it’s never too late to start something new if you are motivated enough. It was my pleasure to be part of this and have an opportunity to spread the knowledge.

Matěj’s teaching of test automation equips junior testers with essential skills. Recognizing the importance of automation in fast-paced software development, he imparts practical knowledge using a low code framework. Matěj’s commitment to personal growth and students’ dedication creates an engaging learning environment within the academy.

Q&A with Michal Slíva – Enhancing Software with User Experience (UX/UI)

Michal Slíva, Principal UI Engineer at Vendavo, brings a unique perspective to the academy by teaching about UX/UI. Despite his expertise lying outside the realm of testing, Michal recognizes the critical role of usability in software development. He is focused on imparting fundamental knowledge about usability and conducting effective tests to ensure exceptional user experiences.

Q: Michal, you are UX professional, not a tester but still you are teaching one lesson about UX/UI. How has your teaching experience been in the academy?

Michal: I must admit that despite teaching only one lesson, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I emphasize the importance of usability, a key aspect of software development. Companies with outstanding functionality but poor user experiences are bound to struggle in the market. Therefore, it is essential to share the fundamentals of usability and effective testing techniques.

During the practical part of my session, I encouraged students to propose their own user interfaces and test them collaboratively. This exercise revealed eye-opening insights. It demonstrated that even seemingly simple applications, like a parking machine, can pose significant challenges for users trying to complete a task.

Michal’s contribution to the academy goes beyond traditional testing, as he imparts knowledge on user experience and usability. Understanding the significance of exceptional user interfaces, he guides students in conducting effective tests. Through practical exercises, Michal highlights the intricacies of usability, ensuring students are equipped to create intuitive and user-friendly software.

Katerina Melicharova, Leader In Empowering Women In The It Industry

Q&A with Kateřina Melicharová – A Journey from Junior to Medior

Kateřina Melicharová, a Czechitas graduate from the year 2020, embarked on a successful career as a QA Engineer immediately after completing the Digital Academy. She recently joined Vendavo, further advancing her professional growth. Reflecting on her journey from a junior to a medior role, Kateřina shares her experiences and the valuable lessons she learned along the way.

Q: How was the journey from junior to medior, comparing your experience in 2020 with today?

Kateřina: After completing the Digital Academy, I secured a position as a QA Engineer in a Czech IT Company, where I worked for two years. In January of this year, I joined Vendavo as a QA.

The Digital Academy provided me with a strong foundation of knowledge, which I was able to build upon. However, a significant portion of my knowledge, skills, and experience came from my work experience. The journey from being a junior to reaching a medior level has been a period of immense learning and discovery. It has allowed me to fully immerse myself in the vibrant world of IT and testing, which I thoroughly enjoy. I am grateful to the Digital Academy for their excellent preparation, which has propelled my progress and growth.

Q: You also serve as a mentor in the academy. Could you elaborate on the role of a mentor, your responsibilities, and the significance of mentoring?

Kateřina: Mentoring in the academy has been a rewarding experience. The students of the Digital Academy are divided into teams, and as a mentor, I had the privilege of leading one of these teams. My role as a mentor goes beyond imparting knowledge; it involves providing psychological support, sharing information, and drawing from my own work experiences. In essence, a mentor is a dependable figure on whom participants can rely for advice and guidance.

Kateřina’s journey exemplifies the growth and development that can be achieved through the Digital Academy. From starting as a junior, she has transitioned to a medior role, gaining valuable experience along the way. Additionally, her role as a mentor highlights the importance of guidance and support within the academy, fostering a collaborative and nurturing learning environment.

Closing Words: Empowering Diversity and Inspiring Stories

Czechitas is a beacon of inspiration, training, and guidance, and we are honored to be part of this incredible organization. It has been a year filled with remarkable stories, including the triumph of four Ukrainian women who found refuge in the Czech Republic and achieved success through the Digital Academy. Their journey exemplifies the transformative power of education and resilience.

Czechitas embraces diversity and drives innovation by creating an inclusive environment that celebrates individuals from all backgrounds. Through this, the organization fuels creativity and fosters breakthroughs in the ever-evolving world of technology. As we conclude this chapter, we carry the spirit of Czechitas with us, empowered by the knowledge gained and the connections forged. Together, we shape a better future for the IT industry, guided by the belief that diversity fuels innovation.