I’m a Happiness Engineer!

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. Almost, but not quiet. I work remotely, helping people to use WordPress.com and other Automattic products.

In April 2016 I left my full time job as a web designer. I was no longer feeling fulfilled in my work and a crappy commute was starting to take its toll. Scott encouraged me to take some time out and think about what I really wanted to do. To be honest I had no idea what came next. 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.

Apply already message

Busted…

At no point did I feel ready to apply; I was worried I didn’t know enough. But Scott said I’d probably never feel ready so I should just go for it. He was right.

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. But I needn’t have been so worried because the person I was chatting to was really friendly. 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 really 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 called David. 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. At the risk of sounding like a total nerd, I felt like a secret agent. I’m pretty sure James Bond doesn’t have this many tools.

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 tonne of time and energy into getting to this point and I knew without any uncertainty I really 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. And I’m pleased to say David did too!

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 advice, being the breadwinner and putting up with me laying awake at night talking about domains (who says romance is dead, hah!). 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 these posts too:

10 Comments

  1. 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

    • 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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 🙂

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