Rebecca has been working for Brightspot since December 2013
To kick off her (lucky) seventh year at Brightspot, Senior Quality Assurance Engineer Rebecca Grad talks to Rose about how the platform and company have evolved over the years, why she loves what she does, and her deep passion for the arts.
Last month, you celebrated your seven-year anniversary at Brightspot. What first brought you here and how have you seen the company evolve in that time?
What brought me to Brightspot was connections from AOL. I worked at AOL for nine years with David Habib and Chris Cover. I heard about Brightspot from a previous co-worker and I interviewed with Chris Cover. As for how it has evolved, it's definitely a lot bigger. The Brightspot application has also evolved quite a bit. Functionality that was maybe initially custom work has now become part of the platform.
How did you wind up working in quality assurance and what do you like the most about your role?
I started off in QA over 20 years ago. Initially I was working doing phone tech support and I really enjoyed the aspect of troubleshooting and problem solving. So I got into QA about six months into my career at AOL. I really enjoy the aspect of what I call "thinking around corners." What I mean by that is just being able to be creative in my thought process and really ask a lot of "what if" questions. I love breaking things—I'm really good at it! But what I also like about QA, especially QA at Brightspot, is that you really need to be a generalist. There's a lot of different branches of QA, and in roles at past jobs I've had to focus on one very specific type of QA. However, with Brightspot, because of the differing clients and the various problems to solve, you really cannot focus on any one area. Today I might be looking at performance and tomorrow I might be doing accessibility—it just really depends.
In your time at Brightspot, you've worked on lots of really interesting projects. Does one stand out as a favorite?
I do a lot of DIY home remodeling, so working on our Scripps account was a lot of fun because it was HGTV and DIY Network. Outside of Scripps, it was probably when I first started working for Sotheby's. We did Museum Network for them and, coming from an art background, being able to work with all of this incredible museum content around the world was so cool.
You mentioned that you've worked as a quality assurance engineer for over 20 years. What have been some of the biggest changes you've seen over that time?
Deployment used to be a process that might take four or five months to get out of the door. Turnaround time is so rapid these days. Sometimes we do releases once a week or once every two weeks, and that was unfathomable 20 years ago. QA is also just more engaged now. Originally, it often felt separated from the overall development process, but now there is an understanding that QA needs to be considered from the very beginning. Quality assurance is everyone's concern.
In 2018, you traveled to Seattle to volunteer with your co-workers at the Special Olympics USA Games. Can you tell me more about what that experience meant to you?
That was an incredibly meaningful experience for me. It was personally meaningful because for over 20 years my mother worked with adults on the autism spectrum and those with development disabilities. It was always part of my life growing up. When I got this opportunity I jumped on it. It was also great to get to know some of my co-workers on this level, and being able to work with these incredible athletes in this personal way was deeply rewarding.
Besides the people, what is your favorite part about working at Brightspot?
My favorite part is that every day is a new challenge and I never feel bored. It never gets old. It's always something different and I love solving those kind of unique problems with our clients.
What's the best piece of career or life advice that you've ever received?
Stay curious and always ask questions because you're never done learning. Be a lifelong student!
What are your favorite activities or hobbies to do outside of the office?
First and foremost—the arts. Visual art has always been a passion of mine. I also make music. I play the drums and guitar, and my family and I make music together. We also do a lot of home renovation projects, especially lately! We've tackled a lot of different projects—painting, hanging curtains, building shelves, etc. It's just been a very busy time creatively.
What is something you are most looking forward to doing once the pandemic is behind us?
I miss hosting dinner parties with people at my home. It was something I used to really love doing before the pandemic. I look forward to having all of my friends over again in the future.
What was the last concert you attended?
That was a long time ago! I actually think that the last show I attended was one that I performed in. I was the drummer in a band for an event called the Fringe Festival, which is a worldwide festival that happens in various cities—including Tucson, Arizona, where I currently live.