My first week after joining Automattic as a mobile developer was among the most unusual new-hire experiences I’ve had. Instead of jumping into the code, I did customer support – and I’ll continue to do it for another two weeks.
No, doing support isn’t punishment for some naughty bit of code I submitted. Everyone who joins Automattic is expected to complete three weeks of support before moving on to their new role.
The fact that Automattic expects this is one of the things that made me so interested in working with them. I love knowing I’m working alongside people who have all experienced what it’s like doing support.
I’ve written before about how developers should do tech support because it forces us to see our software through the eyes of our customers. Directly communicating with your end users is the single best way to find out what the problems in your software are and what you can do to simplify it.
I won’t claim, though, that my support stint has been easy. You’d think it’d be a breeze since I supported my own software for years, but this is the first time I’ve supported software I didn’t create and it has been truly humbling to feel like such a newb. Luckily, Automattic’s Happiness Engineers have been, well, happy to provide help when I’ve needed it (thanks, folks).
PS: Be sure to read Jason Munro’s excellent post about his initial experience at Automattic if you want to hear more about what it’s like to start here.