Birfday & the Gift of Automattic

So yesterday was my mumblemumble birthday. Some years I am more interested in the particular milestone (especially last year’s since it was a very milestone-y milestone) and some years it’s more of an excuse to be a bit more hedonistic. This year, it was pretty low-key. And that was just fine. I treated myself to a copy of Cosmic Encounter (yeah, I know, took me long enough) and I’ll be bringing that to my team meetup in San Diego hoping to get people to play with me (along with Illimat, Bears vs. Babies, an Italian Scopa deck, Fairytale Fluxx, one Munchkin variant, and whatever else I can fit into my suitcase).

The real birfday present this year is my new job at Automattic. I’ve worked at big companies before (Pfizer, Merck, even Dartmouth College fits into that category) and I’ve worked at even more smaller companies (Devis, WebCT, Ozmott, Intermarkets). Automattic is on the larger size (~850 people around the world) but I have never worked anywhere that felt so connected and involved. And that’s an amazing feat given that it is a 100% distributed company. There is no office. Everyone works from home. And because of that, the tools to keep everyone connected and functioning are very deep and very well thought out. It should come as no surprise that most of the infrastructure is built on top of WordPress itself (since, you know, WordPress and WordPress services are what we do) but it still amazes me at the richness and depth of it all.

And let’s talk about the people for a moment. What a creative, passionate, smart, and kind group of people! You learn very quickly (day 1 quickly) that communication is oxygen and that it is always OK to ask questions. No one is going to judge you because you do not know something. And those are not just words. When I have needed to know something, I pop into the relevant Slack channel, ask my question, get a cheerful and helpful response, and then I hop back off again. This pattern is repeated all over the company by so many people. People are genuinely giving and considerate and it’s amazing. And the people on my team are no exception. I get to meet all of them in San Diego soon and I am nervous but also excited.

And the projects themselves are refreshing and important and are rewarding to work on.  After the last four and a half years, this is a much needed change.

So, that’s Birfday 2019.

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Day 1

I am an Automattician. That is to say that today is my first day working at Automattic. It’s been a long road getting here and I’m thrilled it’s finally arrived.

Automattic is the company behind WordPress. WordPress itself is an open source project but there are a lot of services behind it and that’s where Automattic comes in. My role, specifically, is Technical Account Engineer on the Special Projects team. It’s like a Project Manager but more. If you follow the link just above, you will see that they we work on some pretty amazing sites for some pretty amazing people. (And if you know what sites I’ve managed the last four years you will know how desperately I need to work on positive sites like these!)

I have known about Automattic for years as I have worked with WordPress in one form or another for over a decade now. They were always on my radar as a place I would love to work. And when I was laid off from my last job in October, I took a look at it again. And got encouragement from someone I met at a WordPress Meetup here in Rhode Island who works there. And the rest is history.

Today I train for my first two weeks working as part of the support team as a “Happiness Engineer” and then, two weeks from today, I begin my new role.

These last four months have been rough. Job searching is never fun and doing it around the holidays is a terrible time of year as no one really hires then. But my family has been fantastically supportive and we got through it and I have not only landed on my feet, but I feel like I landed with style.