A typical day at work

This post is part of a series describing what Automatticians do on a daily basis. You can read more posts like this by following the tag #a8cday on WordPress.com and Twitter.

Back in October 2014, I wrote a post describing a typical day at work. Since then, my job has changed quite a bit, so I’m writing an updated version.

6:05ish: I hear the boys getting up and getting in the shower. Yes, they are now taking showers by themselves in the morning. Hallelujah! I doubt this will last very long, but I’m enjoying having clean children and not having to nag them to bathe. I lie in bed and play Two Dots and catch up on my email until the bathroom is free.

7:00: Everyone troops downstairs. If I’m driving them to school that day, I’ve showered, but usually I don’t. So I’m still in pajamas. I make my coffee, they make their lunches, put their shoes on, and get their stuff together. I pour cereal into bags for them to take with them.

7:30ish: The boys get picked up and I grab some breakfast and go upstairs to my office.

The biggest difference between my job in 2014 and now is that instead of primarily providing support to WordPress.com customers, I now hire more Happiness Engineers to provide support to our customers. And now WooCommerce is part of the Automattic family, so we’re hiring HEs to support WordPress.com, Jetpack, and WooCommerce.

So I sit at my desk and the first thing I do is go through my email. When I did support work, email wasn’t a big part of my work at all. But in Hiring I use it a lot more. We get applications via email, we send out interview requests, tests, and of course rejections via email as well. We use Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) to send out most of the emails, but the replies come in to our normal mailbox.

img_7731It would probably help to explain the hiring process a bit here.

First, we get emails from applicants, which we import into our ATS. The various members of the team review each application twice. The rejections get emailed back and the ones that pass the reviews get a small project.

If the project is done well, we schedule a first interview, which is done via Slack. If the interview goes well, we send another small assignment, which may or may not lead to a second interview. Assuming the second interview goes well, we may offer a trial.

The trial lasts from 3-6 weeks and is paid. (My trial paid for work on our house. Yay trial!) Usually we follow someone through from the first interview through the trial, but occasionally we’ll pass them along to someone else on the hiring team to run the trial. Right now, I’m running four trials, and it’s likely I’ll have a few more starting up over the next few weeks.

So I spend a good part of the morning checking on my trials. How much work did they get done the day before? (They either answer support tickets or do live chat with customers.) How was their feedback from users? How are their answers? Their tone? Are they interacting with other Happiness Engineers?

Every trial also has a buddy, so I may have some feedback from the buddy or other HEs. All of this gets fed into our ATS so we can review it easily.

Once I’ve looked through the trials, we may have applications that need reviewing. I may have gotten some projects back so I’ll need to review those as well. If they go well, I’ll send out interview requests.

Another big part of my job is organizing new hire Support Rotations.

Every new Automattician who doesn’t work in Happiness starts off their tenure with three weeks in support. So they are trained how to use our tools and how we provide support for two days alongside HE trials and then are let loose. So I keep track of who is starting and when, and get their training set up and a buddy for their rotation, and all that good stuff.

Oh, and training. How could I forget training? I also organize Happiness training. Nearly every week, we have either trials or support rotations starting at Automattic. And since we all work remotely, we can’t ask someone in Australia to train at the same time as someone in Europe and someone in the US. So we have a few different trainings. I schedule Happiness Engineers to do those training sessions, and make sure everyone gets trained on time.

So this all takes up most of my day. But if I get through all of that, I try to spend some time doing support tickets or live chat. It’s incredibly important that I not only help out the team, but also that I always know what’s going on in support. How can I evaluate a trial’s live chats if I don’t know how accurate their answers are? If I don’t know how to use our tools (which are ever-evolving?)

Right now my coworker Deborah and I are getting ready for a recruiting trip to Australia and New Zealand so I’m also helping to get our accommodations sorted out, swag sent to the hotels, and events set up. We’ll be speaking at WordCamp Auckland so we need to get together to work on our talk as well.

So that’s my work stuff. I might also go work out at Orange Theory at some point during the day.

3:15: I log off and go pick up the kids from school. If traffic isn’t terrible I’m home around 4:30 and I log back on to finish up anything I hadn’t done before.

5:30: Log off. Get dinner started. Nag boys to do homework.

8:30ish: Get boys in bed. Read a book.

10:30: zzzz

Two years!

One year ago, I wrote this post.

A year ago, I had my first day at Automattic. Mind you, it wasn’t my first day as a full-time employee, but it was the first day of my Happiness Engineer trial. A few weeks before, I’d sent in my resume at the urging of a friend, and the intervening days had been filled with checking my email obsessively, hours-long Skype interviews, and hopes that I’d move on to the next step. And here we were, the first day of my trial.

Now, two years after that life-changing first day, I’m actually running trials. Earlier this year, I started working on the Happiness Hiring team, and now I do that half of my time, and spend the other half of my days helping users. I really love it. I interview prospective Happiness Engineers, and guide them on the path to hopefully getting hired, but I also still get to interact with our users. I really love all of it.

This was a great “second year” with Automattic. I traveled to Utah, Spain, uh, Dayton, and New York City. Next month, I’ll be back in Park City, and who knows after that?

On to year three!*

*I mean, technically, no, I’m still a couple of months away from my official Automattic anniversary, when I started full-time, but let me have this, okay?

A day in the life as a Happiness Engineer

Waiting for carpool

This post is part of a series describing what Automatticians do on a daily basis. You can read more posts like this by following the tag #a8cday on WordPress.com and Twitter.

Because we all work remotely, there’s no one typical “day in the life” for an Automattician. But here’s what my day as a Happiness Engineer might look like:

6:07 am: My alarm goes off, playing an old INXS song. What can I say, it makes me feel younger. Like the 13-year-old me who was planning to marry Michael Hutchence.

6:08 am: I hear the boys’ alarm goes off. Theirs plays “Everything is Awesome.” If I woke up to that, I’d hate the song within a week, but it actually seems to make them happy in the mornings, miracle of miracles.

6:15 am: I really get out of bed, for real this time. I join the boys in the living room, where they’re all huddled together on the sofa. Not because they can’t stand to be apart, but because whoever is sitting in the middle is holding the iPad while they watch a Minecraft video on YouTube.

6:45 am: Make my coffee, make sure the boys’ stuff is in their backpacks, get their breakfast ready. (Notice I didn’t say “cook their breakfast.” Making their breakfast entails putting cereal into bags and pouring a cup of milk that they’re supposed to share, but hardly ever touch.) Yell upstairs to the boys to finish getting dressed, brush teeth, put the freaking iPad down, come downstairs, etc.

7:15 am: Carpool arrives! The boys are off to school. Peace and quiet for the next several hours, ahhh…

7:30 am: Another cup of coffee, maybe? Turn on the dishwasher, maybe throw on some laundry.

7:45 am: Take coffee upstairs to my office (which is also the guest room and the boys’ playroom.) Log on to my computer. Check out any messages in Slack that came in overnight. Check email. Open the list of a dozen or so P2s that I like to be caught up on. Some are directly related to work (my team’s P2, for instance) and some are watercooler. (Fitness, kids, random funny stuff, etc.)

My office. Most days.

8:15 am: Log on to Live Chat, which is what I do every day. Chat with users. Chat with my coworkers on Slack. If things are slow, write a blog post, write a P2 post, check out any updates to P2s that I follow. I have a Varidesk so I can work standing or sitting. It’s good to break things up a bit. Still contemplating the treadmill for under the desk. Maybe one day.

Noon: Lunchtime! Log off the live chat system, go downstairs, eat some lunch. Take a few minutes away from the computer. In theory. That would be ideal, but I usually spend lunchtime catching up on Facebook, email, etc. Erm, take a shower if I haven’t already.

12:30 pm-ish: Log back on to live chat. Chat, chat, chat.

2:15 pm: Today’s my day to pick up the carpool of kids from school, but I like to get in some exercise first, so I log off and head to the gym (yes, I took a shower a few hours ago. I’m weird like that, okay?) and then across town to school to pick up a vanload of kids.

4:30 pm: Back home. Husband greeted. Kids given snacks and a very strong suggestion to get their homework done. I log back on for a while, juggling clones and chats.

5:30 pm or so: Log off for the day. Spend time with my family. Make dinner, oversee the homework that wasn’t done earlier, put the boys to bed, all that fun stuff.

10:15 pm: Nighty-night time for me.

So that’s a pretty typical day. I may not have worked a solid eight hours in a row, but there are the days when I don’t have to pick up the kids, so I may work straight from 8:00 to 5:30. I may take an hour in the middle for a bike ride instead of going to the gym. If it’s one of the days I volunteer in the school cafeteria, I may work at Starbucks in the afternoon until it’s time to pick up the kids. There are also days when I train trial Happiness Engineers, and those days obviously look very different. I love the flexibility my job affords me to do these things. I also love talking to our users all day long, and doing everything in my power to make them happy.

If you like the look of my day, we’re hiring! (Don’t worry, the carpools are optional.)

A year at Automattic

A year ago, I had my first day at Automattic. Mind you, it wasn’t my first day as a full-time employee, but it was the first day of my Happiness Engineer trial. A few weeks before, I’d sent in my resume at the urging of a friend, and the intervening days had been filled with checking my email obsessively, hours-long Skype interviews, and hopes that I’d move on to the next step. And here we were, the first day of my trial. I’d spent the previous nine years at a job I didn’t love, but with coworkers I did. It felt weird, not being able to share this huge thing with the people I was so close to. I’d taken off two days from work for the training, and on September 9, 2013, off we went!

11828688176_7d86442cc7_zIt’s impossible to describe how full your brain gets in those two days (and the weeks afterwords.) So much information. As a trial, you’re given almost all of the same rights as a full-time employee, so you’re given immediate access to a vast well of information and people and animated gifs. You have to jump in and swim around and soak it all in and various other aquatic metaphors.

It was an exhilarating but exhausting time. I would come home from my day job, take an hour or so to hang out with the boys and George, and then log in and work on support tickets for four or five hours. George took over all of the parenting in the evenings during this time, and without that support, I never could have made it. I couldn’t sleep well at night, because I’d been staring at a screen all evening. I’d just lie in bed, exhausted, unable to close my eyes. And then when I did finally fall asleep, I’d dream of domain expiration and upgrades and how to set featured images. But I was so happy. So thrilled that I was using my brain at last. And helping people with something I’d always felt passionate about. Blogging! WordPress!

My trial went on for weeks. About three weeks into it, the entire company went to the Grand Meetup in California. It was up to us, a small band of trials, to hold down the fort. It was a Sisyphean task. No matter how many tickets we answered, more came in. Every afternoon, I’d log in, and there were more and more tickets. But we survived, and nearly all of us who worked through the GM got hired.

11845504486_25176b6a73_zNext week is this year’s Grand Meetup, in Park City, Utah. There’s a new crop of trials who will be battling the tickets this year. I was leading a training session for them a few weeks back, and I felt like a war veteran, reminiscing and showing off my battle scars.

After seven weeks, I had a chat with my hiring lead, and the words that I’d been dreaming of flashed across my screen. “I’d like to pass you along to your Matt Chat.” The Matt Chat is the final stage of the hiring process, and probably the most nerve-wracking. You basically wait for a Skype ping from the founding developer of WordPress. I’ll admit to a tiny bit of hyperventilating when that “Howdy” popped up one evening. I locked myself in my office and told George I’d see him and the boys in a little while. A few hours later, I emerged from my office with a huge smile on my face. I was officially an Automattician!

Man, that was good times. And in one week, I’ll be attending my first Grand Meetup with most of my 250+ coworkers. This past year has been amazing. I can’t believe this is my life. I work from home, for an amazing company, doing a job that challenges me with incredible people. I get to travel several times a year. Pinch me!

And if I didn’t frighten you too much, we’re hiring!

Other Automatticians have written about their experiences on trial and working at Automattic: