Developer Apprenticeship

Recently I received some very exciting news at work. I’ve made it through the application process and accepted into a new developer apprenticeship program. This means starting in January I’ll be spending a year working with a development team and learning, with mentorship, to be a productive, contributing, developer.

This is a fairly new program and is meant as a path way for internal applicants to possibly become a full time developer. At the end of the year if I’ve grown and learned enough I could be looking at a career change. If not I will be able to go back to my current role as a Happiness Engineer.

There have been previous Happiness Engineers who have moved into a developer role but no formal path to do that. Until recently they had to apply as any other applicant and go through the application and Trial process. You already had to have all the skills to jump in and start. About a year ago this program started as a pilot and a few people successfully made it through and have been successful since then. The program has been tweaked now and has more room for support along the way.

Last year I applied for the program but didn’t make it in. I didn’t make it past the coding test which is a similar test that external applicants would get. This time however I was able to complete the test and into the apprenticeship.

December 1st was my six year anniversary with Automattic as a Happiness Engineer. This is by far the longest time I’ve been with a company. Though I’ve done different things in my role here and learned lots, I’ve been looking for a new challenge and change. In September I started helping with hiring new Happiness Engineers part time along with my other work. This has been a great experience, but still felt like I needed more.

This apprenticeship is going to be just what I need and possibly a career change altogether, if I can learn and prove myself over the year. Becoming a developer is something that I’ve always thought about as well though I wasn’t sure it would happen. At over 40 years old with lots of family and financial commitments it didn’t seem realistic anymore. This program could make it possible.

After I graduated with my Bachelors Degree in Computer Science I did a lot of freelance work on my own. I never ended up working with a software team and so never learned a lot of best practices or have team members to learn from or gain experience with. Once I started at Automattic I didn’t do much coding at all except for some little one off tools or browser user scripts to help with my role. So I’ve gotten rusty even with what I did know. I’ve always had a bit of regret that I didn’t go out and get that experience, while at the same time being very happy with my current career. This program will give me a chance to do those things I never did coming out of school.

Back when I first really heard about the Happiness Engineer of role it was on the Big Web Show podcast that Matt Mullenweg was a guest on. In it he was talking about the job title Happiness Engineer. As part of it he mentioned that many current Happiness Engineers could be Engineers at other companies. My plan is to put the work in and learn so much that I can be one of the people that makes that statement true, except not at another company.

When I found out the teams who would be participating in the program I was excited to see one in the App Division was looking for a web developer to help work on things like Simplenote and the Desktop app. I’m super excited that this is the team I was able to join.

The next year is going to be full of learning and hard work, but I’m very much looking forward to it and feeling really energized to get started.

8 thoughts on “Developer Apprenticeship

  1. Congratulations and best of luck, Sandy! 🚀

    Can you please share how you went forward with preparation for the role switch or maybe how you planned and prepared yourself to apply for the role?


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