I’ve had a black Happiness Engineer T-shirt hanging in my closet the past two years. The Editorial team at Automattic sent it to me in a thank you package for working on a project with them in early 2014, when I was a blogger using WordPress.com, before I even knew Automattic existed (Automattic is the maker of WordPress.com). I thought the T-shirt was so cool, but I didn’t feel right wearing it because I wasn’t actually a Happiness Engineer. I didn’t even know what a Happiness Engineer was. So I looked it up. I followed the breadcrumbs from the care package to Automattic’s Work With Us page.
And my life totally changed.
Here was a company dedicated to democratizing publishing. Here was the company that had made it easy for me to share my writing with the world, without having to go through the gatekeeper of a publishing house and without having to manage the technical aspects of a website. Here was a company whose product page was written in haiku. Here was a company where I felt I belonged.
I submitted an application for the Happiness Engineer position, and I included this haiku in my résumé:
Two years on WordPress
and I have found my tribe: for
you I have big love.
I became a Happiness Engineer on my 40th birthday. Working for Automattic was everything I’d hoped it would be and more. I thrived there. I felt a sense of acceptance and belonging I’ve only felt in my family and among my girlfriends of 30 years. I worked at a place where I could help people, where writing was celebrated as part of the job, and where as members of the support team we had freedom to explore working on support as well as in support.
About three years into my time there, I was getting really interested in the operations aspect of running customer support — setting and achieving big goals; initiating department-wide planning, timelines, and processes; making sure we kept all the plates spinning — and an incredible opportunity fell in my lap: a Director of Operations position with Support Driven, a small company that serves a community of 6000+ customer support professionals.
I agonized over the decision. I hadn’t been looking for a job. I was happy at Automattic. Ultimately I took the plunge because I knew I would learn a lot, and it might be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
And I did learn. A ton. I’m proud of the work I did to help build out the operational infrastructure for Support Driven’s programs. My proudest achievement there was to help scale Support Driven’s conferences to make them accessible to more support professionals around the world, and especially to bring a conference to the European community at the first Support Driven Expo Europe in Belgrade.
But that Happiness Engineer T-shirt in the closet still pulled at me. I missed Automattic terribly. I missed my colleagues, I missed being part of a big and diverse team. I missed being in support: I missed helping people get their creations out into the world on their blogs and websites.
Each time I saw my T-shirt hanging there, I felt sad because I wasn’t a Happiness Engineer anymore. I wanted to go back home.
In October, I applied and trialed again at Automattic, and I am ecstatic to share the good news that I am rejoining the company. I am grateful to return home to the colleagues and work I love so much 🥰.
I start today, and the happiness in my heart is spilling over. The welcome I have received from Automatticians has nearly undone me. I feel valued and loved, and I am overjoyed to be back with these smart, funny, and good-hearted people.
As for that T-shirt that Editorial sent me that I didn’t feel right wearing? Today, on my first day back after almost two years, I took it off the hanger and pulled it on. I am so proud to be a Happiness Engineer again.
What am I made for?
To engineer joy – help, share: