Boy, it was a long journey to get to this point, but I’ve made it. I am the newest employee of Automattic, Inc., the company behind WordPress.com, Akismet, VaultPress, Poll Daddy, and many other wonderful products. I could not be more excited about this incredible career opportunity. I can easily say that it is one of the greatest accomplishments of my young life and one of the greatest opportunities I have ever been privileged with.
Why am I am so excited?!!! Sorry for the lack of subtlety, but read the flippin’ work with us page, folks. Yeah, that doesn’t even explain the beginning of it. And we’re hiring 🙂
Ever since leaving InterVarsity as a campus minister, I have been searching for purpose in my career. I loved working with and for college students. College ministry was (is) life giving and gave me purpose. While only lasting a short while, Lacey and I both enjoyed working together and doing ministry together. However, having to fundraise an entire salary for two became too difficult of a task for us, and so we both left IV approximately four years ago. Since leaving IV full-time, I have had four jobs that all had their benefits and drawbacks. However, there was a void that I felt while in those various positions. I was fulfilling a job description, yet not getting much joy out of the actual work. I met quite a few amazing co-workers along the way, but the work that I did from day to day was not life giving to me. I also recognized that I wanted to start a family. I wanted to be able to provide for my family on a greater level while at the same time spend significantly more time with them. In my eyes, I was searching for a unicorn. Grasping at air. Something like that didn’t exist. Not for me, anyway. Never thought it would happen.
Then came April 2013. While at church, my friend David Cole told me about a position he was applying for called a Happiness Engineer. He was about to begin his trial contract with the company and told me about how excited he was about the position. I of course knew of WordPress, but had never heard of Automattic. He told me they were hiring, so I decided to go home immediately and research the company. I built websites all through college and even built several websites using WordPress. You mean to tell me there is a job where I get to help users as they build theirs? With my customer service and web design background, this was too good to be true.
I was so excited about the company that I applied immediately. I thought that this would be a great opportunity for me to be apart of a movement that I had admired for so long – for me to work for a company I respected and to do work that I would otherwise do for free. Unfortunately, in my haste, I did not put my best foot forward with my resume. I didn’t make it to the interview round. In hindsight, it actually was the best thing that could’ve happened to me.
David recommended me to spend time in the forums, so I went there to volunteer. What I found was a community of WordPress volunteers that were very passionate about the product and about serving people who used the product. I became addicted. I met other volunteers like Timethief who dedicated years to helping people out of the kindness of her heart. Over a 4 month period, I volunteered in the forums about 5-10 hours a week. I learned more about WordPress in those 4 months than I had known in the last 5 years.
After spending hundreds of hours in the forums and taking more time with creating a resume that highlighted my web design and customer service experience, I took the leap and applied again. Automattic contacted me, but unlike last time, they were interested in talking with me further. Now, even getting to this point was a miracle. See, Automattic’s hiring strategy is radically different than any that I have ever seen or heard of. The process for my position was as follows:
- Application Submission
- Interview #1 with a little bit of homework afterwards
- Interview #2
- Trial Contract Spanning 4-6 weeks
- Final Interview with Founder of WordPress and CEO of Automattic, Matt Mullenweg
It’s not an easy process to get through. Not the basic 1-2 interviews and then you’re hired type of set up here. Automattic wants to see how you work before they commit to placing you on full-time. The process saves both parties time and money because the employee and employer gets to make sure that it is a great culture fit for them. As a result, for the past ten years, turnover has been amazingly low. It is also why there are only 230 employees around the world that currently work for the company. Even more than having the skill to do the job, you have to really want to dedicate yourself to learning the position and immersing yourself into the culture. I made that a priority because I REALLY wanted this position. I worked 80 hours a week between my day job and the contract position. I got off of work and worked contract during nights and weekends. Granted, they didn’t expect me to commit to that many hours, but I wanted to show that I was serious about the job. I knew that it was a short term sacrifice for long term gain. Trust me, it was WAY worth it.
It took Jesus, encouragement from David, tough love from forum volunteers, support and prayer from my family and friends, and an unprecedented level of dedication on my part to get through this journey, but I am now on the other side! I couldn’t be happier. I get to work from home now, provide for AND spend more time with Lacey and Jordan, dictate my own schedule, and travel – all while being in an amazing career doing work I would’ve otherwise done for free. Like I have already said, it’s only the beginning. What’s the catch, Darnell? There isn’t one. I found my unicorn. 🙂
Things I learned:
- I have sold myself short for a long time and no longer is that acceptable. I felt unworthy of a position of this magnitude, and so I never dreamed of applying for a job like this. But, one day I dared to dream. What if I applied and did not make it? Well…what if I did? My struggle with self-esteem will no longer hold me back from what God has in store for me.
- When it comes to a vocation, I truly believe that everyone can end up doing something that is both life giving and financially freeing for them and their family. It’s cliche, but with a little hard work and dedication, there’s a lot you can do. My journey is indeed a testament to that.
- God is awesome! He is a Provider and He is Sovereign. He knew the desires of my heart and met those desires at 110%. You’d be mind blown if I went into detail of the journey I’ve been on to get to this point. All I can say is that God is good and my faith in Him increased tremendously over the last year.
Thanks for those who supported me throughout this process. I would not have been able to get through this without anyone of you. Praise God for his provision and for the opportunity to embark on a new chapter!