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:

Bowling

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Aunt Tee promised the boys a trip bowling this year, and we took her up on that Sunday. It was fun, and I was pretty awesome at it, I have to say. Granted, we had the bumpers up, BUT STILL.

Port Hudson Drive

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For the first 17 years of my life, my home was at 5822 Port Hudson Drive. A four bedroom, two and a half bath brick ranch built in 1975. We moved out when I was in away for my junior year at Louisiana School, and I guess I never felt like I truly got to say goodbye. Or maybe at 17, I didn’t know I should. In any case, I’ve dreamt about it, and I’ve driven by it countless times. So when my mom told me it was for sale, I knew I had to see it. This past Sunday, there was an open house, and I brought the boys.

I expected it to make me really emotional. I have so many memories of that house. And of course of my dad. As it turns out, the whole experience was surprisingly unemotional. It was interesting, but I never felt like I was going to burst into tears or anything.

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(Don’t worry, there’s more…a LOT more.)

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Two months!

I’m pretty excited, and definitely nervous, but two months from today, I’m getting my eyeballs lasered! For a long time, I resisted the idea of LASIK, because I’m pretty squeamish about eyeballs. I mean, they’re disgusting. I wore gas permeable lenses for years because it gave me that many more microns between my fingertip and my eyeball during insertion. People told me, “it’s over fast” and “it’s not that bad” but not until my friend Bea told me she got to squeeze a teddy bear during her procedure did I really start to take the idea seriously.

So I’ve been for the initial consult, and then I got a phone call from the doctor himself approving me for it (I have a weird, gross eye condition we won’t go into here that could have meant I wasn’t a good candidate.) The other day I had my eyes dilated and deemed in perfect health (well, as perfect as they can be with my weird, gross eye condition) and I was put on the surgery schedule.

Of course I wish I could have it done sooner, but you can’t wear your contacts for three weeks before the surgery. I already signed up for a triathlon on September 27, and it would be impossible for me to complete the swim without contacts.

When I left my job at the Archdiocese, I had a bunch of money in my flexible spending account to use up, so I stocked up on contacts. Hmmm. Maybe not my best idea. So now I have to wear 9 months worth of monthly lenses in the next six weeks. I’m going to feel so RICH, just tossing them away after wearing them once or twice.


Like that, but with contact lenses instead of dollar bills.

An amusing coincidence with the doctor I chose was that his office is in the same building as my plastic surgeon. Kind of feels poetic or something. Self-improvement via surgery and all that.

So that’s that. The surgery isn’t technically LASIK, but Intralasik, which means they use two lasers instead of a blade to oh god I can’t talk about this anymore. I don’t want to know how they do it, just give me a ton of Valium beforehand and a teddy bear.

I am sad to get rid of my Warby Parker glasses (also part of my FSA windfall from my last job) that I love, so if anyone can recommend a charity or somewhere to send them when this is all said and done, I’d appreciate that. (I wonder if any charities take contact lenses?)