Mouse Smash

JC Lau's blog about geekery, gender and other rants

Adventures in QA: Chapter 4: Funderemployment

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It’s been a while since I updated my Adventures in QA series. Like, a year or so. Well, luckily for me I now have plenty of time to do it!

One thing about QA work is that it’s not always constant. Even though technically it’s a full-time gig, it doesn’t mean that the work or hours are full time. There are peaks and troughs with the workflow depending on things like seasons (so it was busier toward the end of the year when the holiday period opened), or things like how many projects there are.

So, we’re in a trough at the moment. For our “full-time” schedule, I have three weeks off.


This is how I feel sometimes at work when people talk about how great that we are there full time, and then give us our schedule.

The uncertainty that comes with QA testing isn’t a new thing at all. Testing is relatively easy, so there’s usually a lot more supply for it than there is demand. (That said, it can be hard to find good testers with experience and knowledge of what to look for.) But it’s still shitty when there are people who are relying on the income of a full-time job and basically get less than half the hours they should have at full-time. You can’t pay rent or eat if you don’t have income. Wait, what?!

The logical thing to do is to find another job to fill in the time, but it’s hard to find a gig that will give you three weeks’ full time work right off the bat with no training. (Oh, that’s the other thing. Sometimes you get less than a week’s notice that this sort of break is coming up. Have fun sitting by the phone waiting to get called into work.)

The next logical thing to do is to quit completely and find a new gig with more job security and hopefully that doesn’t pay pittance so you can still cover your rent and food and whatnot. It sucks, but that does explain the high turnover in QA jobs.

Some people might be luckier and have a partner or family or someone who can support them even if they’ve got a few weeks off work. I guess for people who have kids, it means you can also spend more time with them, or you can use this time to pursue other things (like, I don’t know, stamp collecting or updating a year-old blog or whatever).


Or, you know, catching up on sleep. It’s cold out.

I’m calling this period Funderemployment. You technically have a job, so you’re not unemployed, but your job doesn’t pay enough to cover everything, and you don’t have enough work, so you’re underemployed. And then I threw the “f” in as a combination¬† of “fuck” and “fun”, depending on what side of the “I need this job to live” line you fall on.

I’m four days into funderemployment and already I’ve had too much whiskey, caught up on three TV shows and made too much food. I’m also writing about this on Twitter (#Funderemployment) to chronicle my adventures, or what I can get up to in this time.

It’ll be interesting in 21 days’ time to see who shows up back at work. And to those of you in the same situation that I am in, courage!




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