As some of you will know, I’m now a Happiness Engineer at Automattic! Automattic is the company behind WordPress.com, Jetpack, Simplenote and lots more. And what is a Happiness Engineer? You might have visions of me painting rainbows while riding a unicorn. Not quite. I work remotely, helping people to use WordPress.com and other Automattic products.
I left my full time job as a web designer in April 2016. I was no longer feeling fulfilled in my work and a rubbish commute was starting to take its toll. Scott encouraged me to take some time out and think about what I really wanted to do, which seemed like a scary prospect at the time but I’m glad I did it. To be honest I had no idea what came next so I freelanced for a few months with the future at the back of my mind.
Automattic had been on my radar for a while and one job in particular really stood out to me — Happiness Engineer. Find me a better job title and I’ll eat both of my socks. I loved the idea of helping people do great things with WordPress and benefit from using it as much as I have.
Taking some time out finally gave me the push I needed to apply. I started off lurking in the WordPress.com forums; looking at the sorts of questions people asked and how staff and volunteers responded. Doing so gave me a feel for what it means to be a Happiness Engineer and the confidence to write my first reply. Over the next few weeks I visited the forums regularly and answered a whole range of questions. Some I knew the answers to, others I didn’t.
At no point did I feel ready to apply; I was worried I didn’t know enough. But I realised I would probably never feel ready so I just went for it. The big day arrived and it was time to send my application. After reading through it a zillion times, I finally hit send. All that build up for one button press!
*Ding!* An email from the hiring team landed in my inbox. I made it through to the first interview!! The first interview was a text chat in Slack. Despite not speaking face to face I was pretty nervous; shaky hands don’t make for easy typing. Things went well and I was given an assignment to complete. A few days later, I had a second interview and then found out I was through to the trial!!!
You might be thinking “Wait, what? you didn’t get the job yet?”. At that point no. Part of hiring process is a paid 3-6 week trial working as a Happiness Engineer. The idea is to see if it’s a good fit for both parties. Most importantly, I would have the opportunity to see what working at Automattic was like. Leading up to my trial there were a few things to set up. Automattic takes security very seriously and I was asked to work through an extensive security checklist — this needed to be completed in order to access company tools.
On October 31st I logged on for the first day of my trial. I spent the first three days training with a fellow trialer. We were given an introduction to the tools and systems Happiness Engineers use day to day. Once training was complete I was working alongside full time Happiness Engineers.
My trial lasted for 5 weeks and I was helping users with a wide range of issues by email and live chat. Although I found a lot of these questions really challenging I didn’t ever feel alone or without help. Automattic has an amazingly supportive company culture. Other Happiness Engineers were always willing to share their knowledge or help me understand problems.
Although exciting, the trial was very tough. I was fortunate to be freelancing at the time which mean’t I could move my work hours around to accommodate my trial. Each week I put in 25 hours+. The amount of information I crammed into my brain during this time was mind bending. I reached a point where new information was pushing older information out of my brain.
Every week I had a checkin with my trial lead. We talked about my progress, areas for improvement and my goals for the week ahead. By week 4 I was starting to feel exhausted. However, I was also aware that I was getting closer to a make or break situation. I put a lot of time and energy into getting to this point and I knew without any uncertainty I really wanted the job! So I carried on. I told myself there wasn’t much longer left; I’d either get the job or I wouldn’t. Whatever the outcome, I wouldn’t have to push myself that hard for much longer.
At the end of week 5 I had a checkin and I was told I made it through to the final interview!!! I was SO happy! About a week later I had a 4 hour interview with Matt Mullenweg. Anyway, the fact that I’m writing this means you know how it went. When I was offered the job I did a very undignified happy dance. But I didn’t care because I was a Happiness Engineer!! I’d bloody made it.
I can’t tell you how relieved I was that my trial was over and I would soon be starting a new career as a Happiness Engineer. I couldn’t have done it without so much support. Especially my husband Scott. I can’t thank him enough for reminding me to eat and drink, for his encouragement, being the main breadwinner and putting up with me talking about domains in my sleep. I’m also grateful for family members and friends that came along for the ride — who were as eager as I was to find out whether I’d got the job or not.
Thanks to Carolyn and Siobhan for letting me quiz you on what it’s like to be a Happiness Engineer!
Did I mention we’re hiring? If you’re interested in applying to be a Happiness Engineer, have a look at my A Day in the Life of a Happiness Engineer post and some of these too:
- It’s Official – I’ve Been Hired By Automattic! by Darnell Dibbles
- A day in the life of a Happiness Engineer by KokkieH
- I am one very happy Happiness Engineer by Rachel M
- How I became a Happiness Engineer at Automattic Part 1: Application Process by Tish Briseno
- Automattic: my journey from application to hire by Hannah Swain
- A year at Automattic by Pam
- An Automattician Am I by David Artiss
Great story! I remember chatting with you in that bag check closet at WordCamp London about being a Happiness Engineer. I was so excited when I saw you pop up in Slack one day… I was so happy when I heard you made it! ?
Also, I think we all have our own ugly celebration dance for when we got hired. ???
Chatting in a closet — that sounds super seedy haha! I remember that day too 🙂 I’m pretty sure I said it would take me a while to apply… it really did. But I got there eventually. Wooooo! x
Wahoo lady! Congratualtions. I have to agree “happiness engernier” has to be a winning job title” ?
Thanks Jenna! I found some job titles that come close here. 6-Layer Dip Maker and Bride Kidnapping Expert. Not quite as happy but still amazing.
That’s such a brilliant title! I’d be handing out business cards to everyone I met if I had that title 🙂 And huge congratulations Gemma – sounds like all the hard work was definitely worth it x
It was definitely worth it. When I tell people I’m a Happiness Engineer, they smile and then ask what I actually do. Haha!
Congratulations. I love the job title, who wouldn’t. I’ve not had lots to do with ‘happiness engineers’ via my blog, but when I do, there is something very cute about getting an email from a ‘happiness engineer’, and knowing it’s a real person.
I love that they found you. Well done and I’m sure you will be the happiest happiness engineer (can you tell I like typing that!).
Thanks Gemma! I nice to start each day knowing I’ll be engineering happiness. Super happy to be at Automattic 🙂
That’s such an amazing title haha! And so amazing that you got the job too! Congratulations!
xo April | April Everyday
Thanks so much April 🙂
Congratulations! I am currently learning all I possibly can before I apply to become a Happiness Engineer. The thought of working for Automattic in this position has me extremely excited about the future 🙂 I hope to be part of this amazing team someday!
Thank you Amanda. It’s exciting to hear you are thinking about applying to become a Happiness Engineer! I think we have crossed paths in the forums, I recognise your avatar. I’ll keep my fingers crossed and if there is anything you would like to know, you’re welcome to ask 🙂
Thank you for your offer! I may very well take you up on it. I have been watching your replies in the forums 🙂 and I really enjoy the way that you interact with other members!
During my first interview I was halfway through learning Colemak, i.e. at that point where I’m rubbish at both Colemak and QWERTY. Nervous fingers can’t type? Yeah, I had a text file ready with pre-prepared answers so they wouldn’t think I was rubbish at typing 😀
Typing answers with shaky hands was bad enough without throwing Colemak into the equation. I salute you!
Inspiring story, Gemma! I am glad you made it through the trial. I have heard many happy stories about work at Automattic. Many congratulations!
Thank you Arun!
This is my first time posting on a blog. I am thinking of applying to become a Happiness Engineer. Just trying to build some courage. I hope I am not late at the party.
Best of luck in your application 🙂
Thanks Gemma, I am glad that you replied. 🙂 I am going to take some time preparing myself and then apply.
Thanks Gemma for sharing your story.
I landed on this post just after applying to become a Happiness Engineer. This is a dream role and I really hope I get an offer.