Happy at Automattic
Not so long ago, I was working as a Head of Customer Happiness for ManageWP. It was a great job and I had awesome colleagues and a great office. However, something was missing. I needed more freedom to make a difference and I wanted to bring the concept of Customer Happiness to a whole new level.
In February 2015, I was a speaker at WordCamp Prague. This was my first WordCamp and I must say that it was awesome! An incredible experience really. I went to WordCamp Prague with my colleague Igor who was holding a workshop. And the evening before the WordCamp, I met Luca.
Luca was and still is a Growth Engineer at Automattic. When I first met him, we talked about lots of stuff, mostly WordPress related. At that time, I was still working for ManageWP and I was curious about how Automattic does support for their customers. Luca told me a bit about the Automattic’s Happiness Engineers and the work they do. And I was quite intrigued, I must admit! I knew that Automattic had great Customer Support but I was always curious about the volume of tickets they get and which tools they use.
Luca also asked me a very simple question that echoed in my thoughts for months to come:
Why don’t you apply for Automattic?
Are You Happy?
A month before Prague, I realized that ManageWP is not the company I can see myself in for the next 5-10 years. There were a couple of reasons for this, but I’m not going to get into details. The most incredible thing is that shortly after I realized that I was going to leave ManageWP at some point, Luca encouraged me to apply to work for Automattic.
The only thing stopping me from quitting my current job and applying for Automattic at that time was loyalty. I am forever grateful to ManageWP and to all my ex-colleagues for their support, trust and help over the years. I was a digital tabula rasa when I first arrived at the company. I’ve learned a lot since then and as times change, people change, too. One thing led to another and one day I woke up realizing that I was no longer happy with where I worked. However, a hope that how I felt would change kept me working for ManageWP.
People Are Not Trees
There is a great quote by Jim Rohn:
If you don’t like where you are, move. You are not a tree.
And in October 2015, I quit my job at ManageWP and I applied for Automattic. I knew it was the right time to apply when I saw this at the Automattic’s job page:
So I gave it a shot! 😀 I had no job at that moment and I had no idea whether I’ll get accepted or not. It was still just a dream, though. The chances to get hired by Automattic, the company behind WordPress itself, were a bit slim in my opinion. However, the more I read about Automattic, the more I wanted to become a part of it. I read and heard various stories about the hiring process at Automattic and it sounded very cool. And slightly intimidating. But it’s not, not really! Basically, these are the steps:
- You choose one of the positions at Automattic’s jobs page and send an email according to the instructions
- Matt, Automattic’s founder and CEO, reads your email and passes it on to the Happiness Engineer Hiring team
- A member of the Happiness Engineer Hiring team gets in touch with you and schedules a chat
- After the chat, you’ll receive an email with the tests
- If you pass the tests, another chat with the Hiring team representatives is scheduled
- If all goes well, you will start your Trial
I was pinged by a Hiring team representative (hi, Erica 😀) a couple of weeks after I applied in October. All went well during the chat and I started working on the tests the day after. That was probably the biggest panic attack I have ever experienced! I was so nervous and the fact that I am actually doing the tests and that if I pass, I’ll go to the next stage, frightened me so much and clouded my judgment. I rushed to finish the tests as soon as possible and I was certain that I was going to fail. And I did fail – a couple of days later, I was pinged by Erica again who informed me that they will not let me pass to the next stage.
Obviously, after I was informed I didn’t pass the tests, my dreams were crushed. Joining Automattic was what I wanted, and I got even more disappointed because I was so close to making that dream come true. But I failed. I panicked and I failed miserably! And to make things even worse, I rejected several pretty good job offers in the meanwhile. Was I wrong to do that? Is it too late now to accept them? Did I make the biggest mistake of my life?
I made a decision – I’m going to give it a shot again. And in the meanwhile, I’m gonna study as much as I can and I’ll be prepared next time. And if I fail again, I’m gonna try again. And again. And again. I wanted to become a part of the Automattic family – that was my goal.
A month and a half after my failure, I was a completely new applicant. I spent most of my time studying and helping people in the WordPress.com forums. That provided me with plenty of knowledge and confidence that I can re-apply and succeed this time. So I re-applied. A few weeks after I re-applied, I got pinged by another Hiring team representative (hi, Karen 😀). And this time, I passed the tests and I started my Trial at Automattic!
Welcome to the chaos!
These were the first words that I read when I visited Automattic’s internal documentation. I have never worked for a remote company before and it took some time for me to adjust my mindset to remote working. Also, I suffered from the information overload (having in mind that Automattic has over 450 employees, that was quite an overload). I tried to follow everything that was going on in Automattic but it’s just not possible! I had to somehow filter the info that I needed specifically for the Trial and the job I was doing.
And this is really cool – you get to do the job of an actual WordPress.com Happiness Engineer during the Trial for the Happiness Engineer position. You get trained first, of course, but there’s just so much information that you need to digest and you really have to do your homework well.
Working in a remote company requires good communication. When I say good, I mean great. Automattic emphasizes that communication is oxygen! And indeed, especially when you work for a remote company, communication is as vital as oxygen.
During my Trial, I really went all in and I worked and learned as much as I could. What really kept me going were the people – the full-time employees at Automattic who worked as Happiness Engineers. They were willing to help at any time and willing to teach me whenever there was a need for it. I also had a Trial buddy who provided regular feedback to me (along with Erica and Karen) and who told me where I needed to improve. Thank you, Stefan!
Another thing that really amazed me during my Trial was the customer centricity at its best. Automattic always puts the users first, no matter what. I loved that and it gave me extra motivation to keep on learning and working.
My trial was coming to an end. It lasts between 2-4 weeks and it can sometimes be extended for another week or two if there’s a need for that. However, after 4 weeks, I had a chat with Karen and Erica regarding the status of my Trial and what’s gonna happen next. I remember how nervous I was before this chat. Did I work well? Did I work well enough? What’s gonna happen if I fail again? Will they let me re-apply?
Oh, the happiness! I passed the Trial! I remember my reaction and it can be described like this:
One more thing left before I became an Automattician, though. I needed to have a chat with Matt (the Matt!)! He will be the one who decides whether I get accepted as a full-timer or not. As much as I was looking forward to chatting with Matt, I was a bit scared at the same time.
The chat lasted for a couple of hours and I was nervous most of the time (you can imagine why😀). However, in the end, Matt gave the green light and I became an Automattician! Party time followed!
Matt assigned me to the team Aurora – the Happiness Engineers who take care of support for Jetpack, Guided Transfer, WP Job Manager, Sensei, Gravatar and the list goes on! I was so excited! Everything seemed so right. I felt wonderful. I felt I was at home.
Meetup in Dublin
Once a year, the whole Aurora team gets together and works on various projects. The team meetup is priceless because you get a chance to meet in person with the people you work with on a daily basis. I was very lucky because the whole team was having a meetup in Dublin, just a month after I was hired. Dublin, here I come!
I expected the meetup to be great, but it was even better! The people I work with are the best colleagues one can wish for. Everyone’s friendly and we had lots of fun. I received an incredibly warm welcome and I felt like a part of the family. Thank you, folks!
What can I say, I am extremely thankful to be a part of the Automattic family. My dream came true and I have a chance to keep making the web a better place every day. Thank you, Luca, for encouraging me to apply!
I’ll also be a speaker and a volunteer at the upcoming WordCamp Europe in Vienna. The title of my presentation is The Science of Happiness and I’ll speak about how a scientific approach to Happiness can increase profits and improve businesses. I hope to see you there 🙂
All in all, I couldn’t be happier. I am a Happiness Engineer at Automattic and I am home. There’s an old saying:
Home is where your heart and Mac are.
Of course, I just made that up but perhaps, in the future, this might become an old saying. Who knows 🙂
Thanks for reading. Cheers 🍷