Star Canada 2019 - the dream, stepping to a whole new galaxy
Exactly one year ago this time of the year, I was working hard to build my team in GoodRx. It was I and one more Sr. QA engineer supporting 40 plus developer, a broken bokchoy automation framework, tons of failure in ci/cd pipeline, a large amount of releases to support and oodles of resume to screen and take interviews. Now when I think about that time feels like, was that time really existed or it was just a bad dream?
Looking at a broken star and wishing: As I mentioned in my last post, after I participated in Wonder Women in Tech in 2018, it became clear to me I loved the spotlight. So when I build my team and turned around the whole QA organization in 4 months ( I will be honest, I have been lucky in lot of cases from hiring extraordinary people to having a great higher up who supported in every decision without any bureaucracy) I thought to tell my story to the whole world. I wanted to speak in selenium conf 2019 ( the only conference I didn't get selected this year). I wrote my CFP "Taming your dragon, from no QA to fully integrated QA". I submitted the CFP to quite a few conferences and first did the talk in Test Leadership Congress 2019. The talk went really well and got appreciated by many. A very big reason for this success was the mentorship by TLC chair Anders. I felt like I wished to became a tech speaker and it became true like a blessing.
Star Canada- the acceptance : After my TLC talk I kept getting invitation. The most surprising one was Star Canada. One fine morning I got an email from Chris Loder stating that Karen Holliday VP, Quality and Customer Care at InGenius Software referred me and spoke very highly about my talk at TLC and I am getting an invitation to speak. I was on cloud 9 as I submitted my first CFP to star west 2014 and didn't get selected. I am confirming its a myth that women cant stand other women success. After I became conference speaker, I have only seen support from various women trying pull other up and making positive changes in their life. Coming to Star conferences, they are the oldest and one of the most prestigious conferences in the QA world. I readily accepted the invitation and here came all the challenges along with it.
The Challenges: you will be surprised to know I am on my working visa and waiting last 9 years to get my green card. All thanks to my country of birth India ( I am a proud Indian). After 13 yrs work experience, A master degree with 3.91 GPA and numerous accolades I cant get Immigration in USA, due to a very large backlog for my country. So being an Indian I had to apply for Canada Visa. It was pretty intensive process of submitting lot of documents waiting a month to get my fingers scan and then driving all the way to Canada consulate to drop off and pick up my passport. The whole process took almost two months. I planned that when I get my Canada visa approved, I will book an appointment at US consulate,Toronto to get my US visa stamped. Because the rule is if I leave United states I need a stamp in my Indian passport and it can only be done in a US consulate outside USA. I know it sounds crazy right ? Also without the visa stamped I wont be able to return to USA.
But to my utter surprise , the first appointment available for the stamping was March 2020. I was heartbroken. I thought my 5 years old dream of speaking at a star conference going to be unfulfilled. But I am not a person who takes defeat this easily. I thought about alternatives and I find out I could go to my home city in India and get this done within 5 business days. It just mean 60 hours of flight, thousands of dollars expenses, 2 weeks off from my work and few nightmare full of days with thoughts like if I am ever going to come back to USA. Well I am a risk taker.
I took on the challenge. I am very thankful my company supported me all the time for my passion and let me go to India to get my visa stamped.
2 weeks of uncertainty: when I landed in India I figured there is national holidays due to a very big festival Durga Puja and I had to extend my vacation 4 days more as I didn't get my passport on hand before I was suppose to travel back. Top of that some well wisher sent me an article how another families visa stamping became actual curse and now they are stuck in India for 6 months. My heart just stopped bitting reading that article and I just prayed hard that I get my passport back soon. My visa was granted in record time 2 days but got delayed to deliver due to the festival holidays. Cant tell how much I felt relieved after coming back to USA. Lot of you wont be able to understand the pain an Indian immigrant goes throughs to live their American dream.
Star 🇨🇦- the experience: I had to cut short my Star Canada experience to one day as I had my unexpected Indian vacation and I happen to run a whole department so its tough to be out of office too often for too long. But I finally lived my dream of being a STAR SPEAKER. I had a full house, active listeners, lot of followup questions and two coaching session afterwords. Karen and Chris Thank you from the bottom of the heart for the opportunity and I feel all my struggle was worth the whole experience.
To all my reader, NEVER STOP DREAMING. Always aim for the moon, don't worry if you fall you will fall among the star. And yes take Risk. I know it can be nerve wracking sometimes. Take the first step with your faith and the whole staircase will be build for you automatically. Never be afraid of the darkness of a tunnel. there is light, lot of light at the other end. I hope my this piece of writing will give you lot of strength to overcome every challenge you faced or going to face in your life. Adieu.