Support as a Career

When I get home and can really reflect I’ll post a better and more full recap of my first Grand Meetup with Automattic. For now I want to talk about something great that has happened for me here. I’ve had a bit of an epiphany thanks to two town hall sessions I’ve attended. One was company wide and one specific to our happiness or support section. Not sure if it is exactly an epiphany, because I really knew it already, I think I just forgot it a little. This allowed me to bring it back in to focus. Now I need to live it even better.

When I came to Automattic as a Happiness Engineer in the back of my head I kind of thought it would be fun to use it as an “entry” position and work my way into a development role. In the past I’ve had development roles, specifically web development roles, that I could likely put to use here. I’d never pretend that I’m anywhere near the calibre of the developers we do have, but I thought I could learn from them. The funny part is the jobs I’ve always been happiest at have been the ones where I’m providing support.

If I’m happiest in a support role, why do I want to move to something else? After the questions and answers in the town halls I think it is because of my biases coming from other companies where support really is an entry level position. It’s not something that the companies I worked at treated as a serious and important career option. It was usually seen as a necessary, yet evil, cost centre. Not at Automattic. Support is seen as an important bridge between everyone that uses our products and the products themselves. Every conversation we get to have with the people who use our products is an opportunity to learn and makes things better. This is exactly the career I’ve been looking for.

There are some things I need to work on though and personally need to get better at. Taking the conversations I have and helping find where things can be made better and communicating that is currently a weakness. There are many parts I already feel I do well though. When I find something that is broken either through testing or from a user I can work with our developers to let them know so they can get it fixed.

While I can read code and understand it, I could spend a lot of time trying to dig through the code to find exactly where the bug is, but really these developers know the code a lot better than I do. It would be a lot more efficient if I instead worked on my bug and deficiency reporting so that I made the reports as helpful as possible. If I do that, they’ll be able to find where the bug is a lot faster than I could and they also can it fixed. The time I would spend looking would take me away from having other conversations with people where I can have a much greater impact in the long run.

Coding is still fun, and I’m not going to stop. In fact while here I took a course on JavaScript as there is a feature I would like to see, so I’m going to try and build it. But that will be in my spare time, as the hobby it really is for me now.

There are so many things I will be taking away from this Grand Meetup, but I think this will be the most important thing. It has helped me refocus on my career here and will help me approach interactions from a different mindset. It will be a lot of work and I know I won’t be able to do it overnight, or be perfect at it, but I’m going to work at being better.

Needed a Win

I’ve been struggling this week and today I just needed a win. About a month ago I set a goal on Runkeeper to be able to run 10k again by October 1st. That would give me almost two weeks to better my time. Today was my planned day to go for a long run and I picked my route hoping I could make it 10k. The route had a bail point at about 7k where I could stop or take another route and make it shorter or continue on for the 10k.

There are a couple hills on this route with one major one that is quite long and steep. This is a route I used last year when I was getting ready for the Valley Harvest 10k and the hill was always painful. The first number of times I ended up walking it or at least parts of it. Not today though!

The hill was certainly the slowest part of my run but I did it without stopping and was able to do the full 10k. In fact I was feeling so good at the last bit that I really pushed it for the last 1.5k and had by far my fastest times then.

I’m very happy with this and hoping it was the win I needed to get me back focused on my goals. Now that I know I can do 10k again I have almost a month to work on my pace.

10k-run-goal