3 Years at Automattic

Today is my three-year anniversary of my full time hire date with Automattic.

This isn’t a job, not really. It’s way more than that. I feel more that I’m working together with like-minded people to achieve goals that we all really care about – to democratize publishing; to give a voice to people who need a voice. It doesn’t feel like work (some things do, because there’s the business of business to conduct still); motivation thrums through everything we set out to do. I’m continually excited by what it is we do, and what it is we (in Happiness especially) are capable of.

So what’s happened in the past year. A lot!

at home

I went on a blogging streak, and since my streak ended at 185 days, I’ve had a lot of feelings. First, I was really disappointed and vaguely relieved. I could technically have backdated a post to fill in the missing day, and continued my streak (I know, because I’d done it before), but I felt not very good about that, and didn’t want to do it again. I wonder at the quality of the posts. They’re mostly photos, which in my opinion is completely fine (and I love them all), so I wasn’t writing every day (which wasn’t my goal). I still have mixed feelings. I’d occasionally post several times a day, then feel like the next day’s post was basically a place-holder to fulfill the streak. I’d rather to be able to set a x-per-week post streak goal, and fulfill that, I think. Of course, I can do that! But I love the notifications.

Since ending my streak, I hardly ever look at my stats. My stats haven’t changed THAT much. My streak brought me a lot of views and new followers, and I suppose they are willing to stick around and occasionally click on the site, which is nice. I don’t get nearly enough views to use our handy dandy WordAds program, and that’s fine by me. I think less about who might read the site, and more about logging things for my own reference down the road.

Ultimately, I liked the pride of seeing the notification every day, incrementing higher and higher. It is nice having the images labeled or captioned, or a little anectdote about our day to look back on. I love having my content all in one place. I can look in my media library to browse all my images/videos, or I can look back chronologically at posts and remember how I felt those days. I would describe myself (if pressed, in a very specific, weird situation) as someone who doesn’t keep a journal, but I suppose that isn’t exactly true – mine is just public and digital.

Also this year, we moved from Upstate NY to Durham, NC. Definitely one of our better decisions. I sit here, December 3, sunlight streaming in the window, green grass is visible outside, and it’s about 50 degrees. Back in Olean, it’s snowing. I feel a connection with the Southern Tier, and Buffalo has a warm place in my heart (which it needs as it is inhumanely cold there most of the time), but I’m glad to now be a visitor and not a native. I’m thrilled I can get my kids out and active year-round, and there are so many fun things to do here! There’s also amazing food and drink, so obviously mama’s happy as well. I’m further happy to report that Bob is doing well at his job, which was our motivation for moving.

at work

Besides personal stuff, a lot has happened at work! We released the desktop app and debuted our wholly-redesigned framework. I remember last year, the plan was to start rolling out Calypso pages to users, including new Stats pages, right after Christmas. It was a busy time in Happiness! We gathered a lot of really helpful user feedback on what worked for them, what they missed, and what they’d like to see next. And now, right before WordCamp US, we were able to release the entire project! Massive, massive strides. I don’t gush often (about things not my babies), but I am just floored and humbled to be on this ride. I think the vision our CEO Matt had to go from where we were with WP-admin to where we are now with true user-centric (rather than just blog-centric) controls is really amazing.

Another big thing at work in the past year is the acquisition of Woo! Besides having the second cutest mascot (after Wapuu!), the Woo folks have been really a fantastic addition to our team. In Happiness, we’re trading folks across queues so we can learn each other’s business, and I’ve seen some neat contributions popping up all over the place. At the Grand Meetup this year, I worked on an internal project and my project team had a couple folks from Woo – and I’m so glad it did! It was terrific to get to know a few folks really well.

at work for me

In the past three years I’ve gone from feeling lost and like I got hired accidentally (this is called imposter syndrome, and it’s common), to feeling more and more like this was something I was genuinely made to do. Coming up next year is a conference for people who make support a career – I really want to attend, but I think the timing isn’t going to work out. What’s interesting to me, is that I have this proprietary feel for WordPress.com, like this is what I want to support (and other Automattic projects!), not just do “support somewhere.” I feel so strongly about being part of this machine, and this culture. I’m a lead, and I enjoy the opportunity to help my fellow Happiness Engineers develop their skills, which in turn helps more and more of our users.

I sort of feel like I drank the kool-aid, but not once — continually; every day I feel more enthusiastic about the work we do as a company, and the good that WordPress as a project does in the world.

It’s funny, because I don’t feel like I have a job most of the time, like I said earlier. I feel like I work on something I want to work on and enjoy (even when it’s hard or is work), and I feel like it’s completely compatible with my life outside of work. The line is both very blurred and very defined, in a way I can’t really describe properly. I can stop working whenever I need to for family time (which as a working parent is really unbelievable), and I never feel like I’m so very away from work. I used to check in a lot when I was afk (away from keyboard), but I do that much less now. I keep my work in working time, but I think about my work, my team, and our work as a larger entity a lot.

the future

I don’t know what the next three years will look like exactly, but I look ahead and I see Automattic growing and growing, and I see the work we do spreading to touch more and more lives. I see Happiness growing to be the best support available in the world (we are on our way!) I see our home lives changing, as we plan in the near(ish) term to move on from this temporary apartment and buy a home here in North Carolina. I see so many options for being available for my kids and the activities they are drawn to as they get older. I see vacations, family time, work, creativity, amazing things growing out of conversations and ideas, WordPress being available to everyone everywhere and being ubiquitous. I see comments making a comeback as a valuable part of the internet experience – everywhere!

I’m pleased to have been here three years. I look forward to many, many more.

PS – we are hiring!

6 responses to “3 Years at Automattic”

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