Today’s Featured Staff is Dirk who works as a mobile tester in Skype’s Quality Assurance group. These people make sure that our releases work as expected and don’t contain any nasty bugs. Also, they work with technologies and features that may not reach the public for many months to come, until we’re sure they’re ready and work well.
Download this interview as [MP3](http://download.skype.com/share/audio/dirkroethig.mp3) or [OGG](http://download.skype.com/share/audio/dirkroethig.ogg) (length 8:10).
]]>As Dirk is working on mobile testing, we naturally had to use a cool mobile version for the call. So I recorded this interview as a Skype call, Dirk on his end was using the version of Skype on a mobile platform where Skype has not yet been announced and is not accessible or downloadable in any format to the public. Don’t ask which — you’ll know when time comes.
Dirk came from Germany to work in Tallinn, Estonia with Skype’s Engineering headquarters, with a truly multinational and -ethnic engineering and operations team. In addition to Estonia, we have people from Germany, Russia, Poland, China, Canada, Sweden, Switzerland, USA… the list is probably longer by the time you read this.
Let’s give the word to Dirk.
**Hello. This is an interview with Dirk who works at Skype as a mobile devices tester and has joined Skype engineering team in Tallinn a while ago from Germany. We’re gonna be speaking about his work and where he comes from and everything that might be interesting. So first, please tell us your story — where are you from and what have you been doing so far, before you joined Skype?**
I was born and raised in Germany. I studied of course in Germany too. In my spare time, I worked for a few telecommunication companies in both fixed line and mobile area.
**What were you studying?**
I was studying business informatics. Testing was not one of my main tasks there, but I was working in several companies and did some testing jobs there as well. I was working with mobile devices for more than eight years.
**How did you learn about Skype?**
About one year ago I got a hint from a friend of me, that I should try out Skype as Internet telephony that is free. So I downloaded and it worked. That’s how I got on to Skype for day-by-day use to make calls everywhere.
**How did that progress into working here?**
During a Skype call, I was just surfing on Skype homepage. I saw that [Skype is hiring](http://www.skype.com/go/jobs). A few days later, I contacted Skype and got an answer and now I’m here.
**Let’s talk about your work in mobile device and software testing. What does it mean and what is your average day like? What do you do?**
I’m testing everything that is concerning mobile devices. The latest software for the devices we are developing, as well as new gadgets which will appear soon in our shop. I’m also responsible for testing the devices itself at the moment. A normal day for me is like… there are these days when I’m only testing. That means that from morning till evening I have my devices and set up the device for some tests and test it. And there are other days when I think about how can we improve the processes and how to improve the testing itself to make the product more stable and the testing better.
**We have a fairly large testing team at Skype. It’s testing on a lot of platforms and things like web services and that kind of stuff. Is your work anyhow related to the other testing teams of other clients? Do you test stuff between mobile and desktop clients?**
Yeah, of course we test between mobile and desktop versions. Other platforms are tested by other persons, but interoperability is tested by me as well.
**How do you yourself use Skype as a regular user? I think it’s fairly obvious that we at Skype talk to each other a lot, to the colleagues, but do you also talk to people like friends and family in Germany? And do they use any of the versions you’ve been testing?**
Of course, since I’m quite far away from home, I’m talking to my family and friends, which are not only based in Germany, but also Norway and other countries. We had a few days ago our first conference call, which was nice, between Germany, Estonia and Norway. There were two German members and they just chatted about one shall come over for dinner. So this was really nice… the distance doesn’t matter any more when you’re talking to each other. But then you realize, OK, I cannot join the dinner tonight at home. That’s a pity sometimes.
**What would you say — how big of a thing is Skype in Germany in your community and round the people you know? Does everybody know it and use it or is it just a few people, or how is it spread there?**
At the moment, all the people who are interested in technology, I guess, are using Skype, the early adaptors. But also, all my friends have to talk to me now on Skype. Even people who are not that interested in new technologies like Voice over IP get somehow to Skype and are just using it.
**Let’s talk also about Skype as a company, as an employer. How does it feel working here, especially compared to what you have been doing before? How are your team and your colleagues? We have also some extracurricular activities, have you been participating in those?**
Yeah, it was really great for me when I was starting here, since I didn’t know anything about Estonia and I didn’t know any people here, just two or three. So it was really great to participate in these events which are taking place every few weeks. I’m getting more and more interested in sports, it’s unbelievable! A few days ago, we had an extreme event, where about four Skype teams took part. Last week we had a nice walk-around in the nature and so on. So I get to like Estonia this way.
**In your own few words, what does this extreme event mean?**
Extreme event, yeah. You have three kinds of sports, which is bicycling, canoeing and running. And even for me as a non-sportist, it was really hard on the on hand, but it was really great to stand this eight hours in the nature with team members, with Skype team members.
**My last question to you would be, how would you promote or introduce Skype to someone who hasn’t heard or read anything about it? What should be their first thing and how easy is it to get on Skype and start using it?**
First, it’s really to use. Just try it. Give it a try. Call somebody you like and you will realize that the quality is even better than a plain old telephone. So give it a try and you realize that it is more than just phoning – you have great opportunities like Instant Messaging and this telephone conference, for example. It’s for free and it’s a great advantage.
**Ok, that’s all. Thank you for your time!**
Yeah, you’re welcome.
Photos by Siim Teller