My First Week with Automattic

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.

4 thoughts on “My First Week with Automattic

  1. The first thought that went through my head was — starting up a restaraunt — what, you never worked at a ?

    You cannot expect to do very well managing if you haven’t been on the front lines.

    As far as code goes.. there has been many a time using an application, playing a game, I think — did they even use this themselves?

    During structured testing, using my applications over and over… I definitely find what doesn’t work well.

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  2. That is very good idea implemented completely backwards. So you are “helping” paying customers but you have no clue about the product you are trying to help with. Worse, most of customers likely know more about it than you do.

    I run my own company and everyone is helping customers on front lines. But I have never put developer that has no clue about the product on front line since that has no benefit to paying customer. To me that would be completely counter productive.

    Why would you post this as an example of good thing is very curious choice.

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  3. David, I should clarify that new hires don’t work alone doing support. Instead, we first go through two full days of training, and then once we start answering questions we work alongside experienced support techs to ensure we’re really helping customers.

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  4. Thanks for saying openly that you need to have some experience with your customers, their thoughts and troubles if you want to be a success software developer. I’ve been trying to get it through our management’s head for several months now that it’s impossible to create good, solid, stable software if you don’t know what it’s about. I work in testautomation and it’s driving me crazy when my experience gets discounted in favour of the more theoretical approach (which seems sooo easy at first and always, always generates tons of problems after implemented).

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