I’m Joining Automattic – Excitement Factor Bazillion

When I turned 42, I had a feeling that this year would be different for me. Actually, it was more than just a feeling, I had already started a process that has come to fruition.

I’ve had opportunities to interview at some of today’s most exciting companies

Starting on Monday, 19 February, I am joining Automattic as a Happiness Engineer. I’m beyond excited!

My journey, so far

I applied for the position in October last year. The position looked interesting, and it seemed like something I’d been doing to help out for years. Sure, it was different to any other position I’d worked in the past but it looked like a great opportunity to pursue.

Above all, it was an opportunity to join one of my dream companies.

I had my first assignment and interview about a month later. That was followed by another assignment, and a second interview shortly before my birthday. As you can imagine, that all went well because I received the best birthday present from someone outside my family: an offer to start a Trial.

A Trial is part of the interview process. It’s a paid opportunity to work at Automattic so both you and the company can get a good feel for you in the role. Automattic pays $25 an hour, which makes a huge difference. It gives you the space you need to really dive in and do the best you can.

I started thinking about the Trial like this: Automattic had given me an opportunity to work as a Happiness Engineer. I had almost the same level of access to just about everything that a full time Happiness Engineer had. I had the best possible chance I would have to prove to Automattic that I was worthy of keeping this new role.

Because I was freelancing, I decided to commit fully and set aside the four and a half weeks I’d need, and threw myself into it. I worked harder than I had for just about anything else in my working life, and I loved it.

It was challenging, there was a tremendous learning curve, and I had the opportunity to work with some of the most amazing people I’ve met. I was fortunate in that I could treat my Trial like a full-time job. I was part of a group of a dozen and a half people who didn’t all share the same luxury.

Not all of them made it through the Trial, for various reasons. All of them inspired me to keep improving, keep learning, and deliver more happiness with each interaction I had, whether that was with our users, or my fellow Automatticians.

My buddy, Rynaldo, and my Trial Lead, Daniel, gave me great feedback throughout my Trial. They guided me from the start and I owe some of my success to them. I also received so much help from other Automatticians who were doubtless incredibly busy, but who took the time to guide me to the answers I needed. Having the opportunity to work and learn from them is easily one of the best parts of working for Automattic.

There is so much more about the work that I love. It’s difficult to express it all. I spend my days learning, helping users with a wide variety of issues, improving my skills, gaining insights from people I admire … the list just goes on.

And then it became official

When I finished my Trial a week ago, and Daniel told me that the hiring team was recommending me to the HR team, I actually cried tears of joy. It was an incredible feeling.

This morning, I had my chat with an HR Wrangler and, before I knew it, I was official. I’ve been on a cloud for most of today, and I suspect this feeling is going to last a bit longer.

One of the first things you read when you start your Trial is “Welcome to the chaos”, followed by:

The only correct approach is to embrace the chaos, not fight it.

That pretty much covers how Automattic works (and it does, so incredibly well). We are a distributed team, working from all over the world in our homes, coffee shops, co-working spaces, camp sites, and more. We use Slack and internal blogs called P2s to communicate, share information, and keep connected.

Somehow the chaos doesn’t detract from just how effective everyone is.

I frequently found myself just amazed at how incredible everyone is at their jobs, and wondering whether I was worthy enough to join them.

My answer to my Imposter Syndrome was to ask myself this question: “Why not? I made it this far. Even if I don’t see it yet, the hiring team saw my potential and I owe it to them, and to myself, to realise that potential. So, why not me?”

As much as I achieved through hard work, and perseverence, I still believe I owe some of that success to the remarkable people who helped me along the way. They inspire me, they are my heroes, and I am grateful to them.

If you’d like to read a few more perspectives on working for Automattic, and their journeys, here are some of the stories that lit the way for me:


Oh, and by the way, we’re hiring! Join us. 😁

How Pluto passed up its opportunity for “planet” status for a friend

Do you remember when Pluto was a planet? Those were the days when we had 9 planets in our Solar System and then things changed. Pluto was downgraded to a dwarf planet. Do you know the backstory behind that change? What may seem like some astronomical body’s decision to reclassify this celestial body was really a story about friendship and finding one’s place in the solar system:

The official story, according to NASA, is this:

Discovered in 1930, Pluto was long considered our solar system’s ninth planet. But after the discovery of similar intriguing worlds deeper in the distant Kuiper Belt, icy Pluto was reclassified as a dwarf planet. This new class of worlds may offer some of the best evidence about the origins of our solar system.

Wouldn’t it be fun if there was some sort of meta story going on, though? That said, the real story is the New Horizons mission to send a probe to Pluto and beyond to the Kuiper Belt. This mission began in 2006 and the New Horizons spacecraft is due to reach Pluto around 14 July 2015, a little over 52 days as I write this. It will probably send back the best images we have of Pluto.

The fact that this spacecraft has been heading to Pluto for about 9 years is a reminder of just how vast our solar system is. Here is a mission overview:

You can follow mission updates on Twitter @NASANewHorizons:

If you are curious what the differences between a dwarf planet and a planet are, watch this short video too: