“Dear Younger Me” by Dorothy Graham

Welcome to the first in a series of open letters from members of the EuroSTAR Software Testing Community to their 28 year old selves.

It’s hard to believe, but this year we’ll celebrate the 28th edition of the EuroSTAR Software Testing Conference. 28 years of the testing community coming together in an inclusive space, to share knowledge, support each other and grow. There has been such incredible community spirit, shaped and nurtured by every single tester and quality professional that has been part of this wonderful journey. To mark our 28th anniversary, we have invited many of those instrumental in the creation and ongoing development of our community to write an open letter to their 28 year old selves.

Each letter is different and contains what the author felt is most important to tell their 28 year old self and to remind their younger self what is worth fighting for!

Our first letter is from Dorothy Graham, the very first Programme Chair of the EuroSTAR Software Testing Conference back in 1993 and a change driver in software testing and test automation for more than 50 years. We have have all learnt so much from Dorothy (Dot) as she fearlessly led the field and continues to support innovation and improvement for fellow testers. We hope you enjoy this open letter and continue learning as our community have done together since 1993!


Dear Younger Me,

There you are, at the age of 28 – you have no idea of the amazing things that will happen to you over the years!

As you begin your year of being 28, you are making the momentous decision to move to a different continent. You have just left your first proper job, as a programmer in the Test Group at Bell Labs in New Jersey. Perhaps my best advice to you now would be to pay attention to what it is that you liked and didn’t like about your job. I know you took it very seriously and that was good – your boss said you would soon have been promoted, and that meant a lot to you. But there were some aspects of your work that you found frustrating – some office politics and teasing for example. You really enjoyed presenting your work to your colleagues. but you were very disappointed to discover four months after you left that you had probably written one of the world’s first examples of “shelfware”! But you were young and adventurous, married just 3 years, and ready to take a new step in life.

After having your (first) holiday of a lifetime, driving to Alaska and back over four months, you emigrated to the UK. When you didn’t find work straight away, you had some time of waiting for what might come next. This was rather frustrating (just as the current pandemic lockdown is also enforcing a lack of normal activities). I would tell you now to be patient (no, I never got any better at that), and to try to enjoy the good parts rather than just wishing it was all over. I might also remind you that when things did change, you may have enjoyed them far more because of the intervening lack. This was to happen several times in your life.

When opportunities come, I would encourage you to take them, even if they seem a bit scary at the time. You would never have met and married Roger if he hadn’t been adventurous enough to come to the US when he was 25. You will have lots of opportunities in your life, and you will eventually see that even your first job was preparing you for your later career. I would encourage you to continue to work hard, and to fight for what you think is right.

One thing I think you might do better, is to be kinder to people, especially the people you are working with. Put yourself in others’ shoes and be considerate of their point of view and feelings. Look for the best in people, and give credit for good ideas. You will find out that building other people up doesn’t actually harm you, it’s often much more beneficial to you than “putting someone down”. Don’t be afraid to share your ideas with others. If you bounce ideas off other people, you will learn both the strengths and the weaknesses of your ideas – either way, you benefit from better ideas.

So, 28-year-old self, you have a wonderful and unexpected career ahead of you, well beyond anything you can imagine now. Just remember to enjoy the good bits, be patient when things aren’t happening quickly enough, take opportunities, and be kind. See you in 48 years!



See webinars presented by Dorothy Graham on EuroSTAR Huddle. Check out the the Test Automation Patterns Wiki created by Dot, together with Seretta Gamba. Dorothy has also co-authored five books which are available on Amazon.

About the Author


I have been in software testing for 50 years, and have written 5 books. I developed the Test Automation Patterns wiki with Seretta Gamba. I was Programme Chair for EuroSTAR in 1993 (the first) and 2009, and have attended all but one of the EuroStar conferences.
Find out more about @dotgraham

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