A Day in the Life of a Happiness Engineer

This post is part of a series of posts describing what we do on a daily basis at Automattic. If you’re interested in reading more you can follow the tag #a8cday. I am a Happiness Engineer and lead of the Happiness Hiring Team.

I work at a distributed company and, with the exception of the one coworker who happens to live in the same town as me, I don’t see the people I work with on a day-to-day basis. But that doesn’t mean I don’t interact with people all day long :)

Today was an interesting day for me. We had guests staying with us from out-of-town so of course I wanted to spend time with them, but since I make my schedule for the most part, I was able to re-organize things so I could both get my tasks done and spend time chatting with my friends.

Today 6am was wake up call.

First order of business is always a cup of coffee for myself. This morning I also prepped coffee for my guests since I wasn’t sure what time they’d be up and about.

I typically make a quick bowl of scrambled eggs while the coffee is brewing and with that in hand, I then stand at my dishwasher in the kitchen where I drink my coffee, eat my eggs, and figure out what I’ll need to do for the day. Yes, I stand in the kitchen, my laptop on my washing machine. It works for me :)

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Here is a run down:

  • got accounts set up and communicated the details to 2 trial Happiness Engineers* and 2 support rotations** trainees.
  • said a quick hello to my teammates.
  • checked in with the group doing the training sessions, we’re working on a new training process so I wanted to make sure all was well.
  • looked at my email inbox, fortunately just a few questions about hiring to follow-up on and a couple of items to chat with the hiring team about (the perks of a company that uses minimal email).
  • spent some time going over news and updates from the weekend on our internal blogs (we call them p2s or o2s, depending on who you ask and their the reason for little to no email)

At this point I took a break. One of our guests and her little girl came into the kitchen. The little one wanted to swing on our hammock so while she did that, my friend and I chatted about their plans for the day and she decided to take her daughter out for an early morning car ride to see the balloons in the air. It’s Balloon Fiesta time in Albuquerque and every morning there are hundreds of hot air balloons flying over the city.

By 8am, my family was stirring so I sat down at my desk. I had a meeting with two coworkers, one in Budapest, Hungary and the other in California, to discuss a project that’s near and dear to me so I needed to focus a bit more and with me out of the way they can get their day started.

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Our chat started a bit later than I expected, but no matter what there’s always something to do. For the next hour, in addition to my meeting, I:

  • talked over some training program details.
  • discussed the progress of trials with the hiring team.

Time for another break, our guests were all up and about and breakfast was on. And it was time for a little web project. Our guests run a non-profit in El Paso and their website is a WordPress site, of course. We get together from time to time to work on things, today we worked on setting up a multisite. We also fought with domains a bit which wasn’t as fun as enabling the multisite.

After lunch, we said goodbye to our friends and it was back to my desk for a few hours. In the afternoon I worked on some loose ends:

  • notes for a summary of the project discussed this morning
  • final touches on a proposal for the Happiness team leads
  • prep for a team meeting tomorrow
  • a couple of non-work related chats with coworkers (yeah, we do that)
  • checkin with our events coordinator re: an upcoming trip to Buenos Aires.

To round out my day, I volunteer time to the local WordPress community and tonight was our monthly Women Working with WordPress meetup. Since I was pretty much in my pjs all day ( the joys of working from home) I knocked off work and showered up to be ready to go meet my local WordPress friends. All in all a great way to end a workday.

* A trial is part of our interview process for the HE role and it typically lasts 3-6 weeks.

** All new Automatticians do a 3 week support rotation, working alongside HE, helping users before they join the team they were hired into

WordPress in the Boondocks

In a tiny town in rural Utah that can barely claim 300 people, there’s a coffee shop that proudly stands up alongside the cutest and coffee-est of coffee shops in any metropolitan area.

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My husband and I walked into this adorable little shop to get my coffee fix. After taking our order the barista asks my husband, “Did you go to WordCamp?” My husband pauses a moment, realizes he’s wearing a WordCamp Nicaragua t-shirt and says, “Yes”. Of course I ask the guy if he uses WordPress to which he proudly answers, “I use WordPress on *all* my sites.”

It’s at times like this, when I witness the impact of WordPress on people in rural America (and everywhere) that I am so intensely proud to be working for WordPress.com.

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Tonight at our monthly Women in WordPress meeting we got a little off topic into cool stuff we’ve found on the web. One of the women mentioned CodePen and D3.js. CodePen is a “playground for the front end side of the web”. It’s got endless code snippets or pens for neat things you can do on websites. This is super geeky stuff. You can edit the pens and see your changes right there. A.ma.zing.

The other one we geeked out on was was Data Driven Documents at D3.js, “a JavaScript library for manipulating documents based on data”. The hexagons on the main page featuring the various projects is super cool in and of itself and this one will definitely make you dizzy.

Endless fun.

 

WordCamp Philly 2014

Two of my colleagues (Deborah Beckett and Elizabeth Urello) and I spoke about support at WordCamp Philadelphia this weekend. This is a modification of the talk I did in Nicaragua a few weeks ago. Elizabeth Urello gets credit for the original idea :)

Sadly, these images don’t let you hear our delightful anecdotes and as I like simple slides with not too much info you will just have to imagine the spoken bit. Someday soonish I am sure it will be up on WordCamp.tv. So stay tuned.

Here are the slides:

WordCamp Las Peñitas, Nicaragua 2014

I’m in Nicaragua for the third time in my life. The first was when I was born and the second was last year for WordCamp Managua 2013. This time I’m at WordCamp again. We’re in a lovely beach town called Las Peñitas, just outside of León, about an hour from Managua.

I just gave a presentation about the importance of support for developers and if you are interested (and can read Spanish) here are my slides :)

I’ll be doing this talk (modified) again in a few weeks with some colleagues of mine. So stay tuned for the English version soon.

New Kids on the Blog

I’ve been toying with the idea of starting a blogging class for kids for a while. I homeschool my kids and for some reason it is so hard for me to get my kids blogging. I suppose it’s the old shoemakers kids scenario. Finally, I decided the best way to get them blogging would be to offer a class to my homeschool group. Committing to working with the children of my friends would mean my kids could ride along.

After talking about it and talking about it, we finally did it. Last week, I had six kiddos in my house, sitting around the dining room table: taxing my wifi, setting up blogs and publishing their first post and second and third in some cases). In case anyone is interested in replicating this experiment, here’s how it goes:

Tools

  • laptop or device per child
  • WordPress.com accounts for each child – we set these up at the beginning of the class, parents should stick around till this is done
  • WordPress.com COPPA form per child under 13 for parental signature

Discussion

  • What’s a blog?
  • What kinds of things can you blog about?
  • What should we call the group?

Once everyone got a blog set up, we went through a super quick tutorial to get the kids up to speed with publishing a post. I didn’t want to spend too long on it since these kids are spending a lot of time online, and are generally familiar with how to manipulate a website.

Once they had the basics they were set and I let them ask me questions as they came up. Some of the kids discovered how to search and insert YouTube videos, some stuck with uploading pictures and others dug right into checking out themes and customizing theme options.

I’m reasonably sure the kids had fun, the moms were pleased, and we decided to get together once a month. If anyone has any questions I’m happy to give more details, just let me know!

WordPress Minifigs

We let the kids open a gift on the eve of Christmas Eve. This year was no exception.

As usual, we ended up with more under the tree than we expected, but this gift rules them all. I picked up some super cute Lego minifigs in September from a coworker and swagmeister. So excited to finally be able to gift them.

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