automattically awesome

The big news–starting next week, I’ll join the crew at Automattic as a Theme Wrangler!

(I’m not doing my own excitement justice with so few exclamation points, I know, but I’m trying not to look as dorky as I feel. ;))

When Tim was hired by Automattic last summer, it was an eye-opener. I was about to have our second child and didn’t have much time to focus on a career shift at the time, but I knew my position at UMaine had stagnated and it was clear I needed a change. I’d spent the last three years working with WordPress, and I have a long history with web design and development, so that seemed the natural place to direct my efforts.

While on maternity leave, I focused on learning more about advanced WordPress development, particularly theme development, and I started applying to jobs, including a few at Automattic. In an effort to get better at code review, I joined the WPTRT (WordPress Theme Review Team). I also knew my portfolio was weak, so I set to creating and polishing. I built the kind of themes I would use–cute, illustrated, simple–and was thoroughly surprised when people actually liked them!

Tim encouraged me to apply as a Theme Wrangler, but I distinctly recall telling him, “Pssh. I don’t have that level of skill. I just draw pretty things and make them into themes, I’m not a theme developer.”

Several months later, Ian contacted me after seeing some of my themes and asked if I was interested in designing a premium theme for WordPress.com. I sent in another application around that time, thinking the extra visibility couldn’t hurt. When I finished the premium theme, I (tentatively, wincing all the while because I’m terrible a putting myself out there) followed up with Ian about my application, asking for some pointers… and was surprised when the response was positive. Not even three hours later I had a friendly chat/interview with Lance and started a trial contract that day!

I’m thrilled to be joining the Theme Team. Like I said in my previous post, I’ve worked at the same office for about nine years so this is a huge change. But I’m in a unique position because Tim is also an Automattician, and I’ve seen first-hand what’s involved with this type of job. I’ve also had the pleasure of working with my new colleagues for the last few weeks and that’s reinforced the fact that I’m in really good company. The work will be challenging, but that’s what makes this transition so appealing to me–new things to learn, new experiences, and a chance to work on some really cool projects with some equally cool people.

This means Tim and I will both be working from home. Some people look at me with raised eyebrows when I say that, but we’re not worried about this arrangement–we have separate offices (mine in our bedroom, his in the guest bedroom) in case we get sick of each other (haha) and we’ve worked together before. In fact, I imagine we’ll collaborate less at Automattic than we did at UMaine because we’re on separate teams. And I think it will make working almost entirely from home less isolating for both of us, while allowing more flexibility for our family.

And if all that wasn’t exciting enough, this time next week I’ll be on my way to Las Vegas for my first team meetup. I still don’t believe it. The last few weeks have been a whirlwind, and I’m eager to meet my colleagues in person, then hopefully get into some semblance of a routine and start the real work of learning the ropes. Wish me luck. :D

17 thoughts on “automattically awesome

  1. Congrats Caroline! Even though I’m a minimalist at heart, I just love your style. Your illustrations are terrific. :)

    I actually thought you had started already, but looks like we start on the same day. Nice!

    • Thanks so much! I’ve been working as a contractor for the last month while I wrapped up at my current job. Looks like we’ll be in the training/support trenches together. Yay! Can’t wait to meet you and the rest of the team next week. :D

  2. Wow! That’s amazing! I hope it’s gonna be a serious dream job for you, you deserve it! Glad you posted about this, I’ve arrived at “wow I’m 39, doing well but am I happy?” in my live and I’m making some core changes to my direction that will hopefully pay off for the next part of my career. It’s good to see that awesome sh*t is possible :D

  3. Woot! That is awesome news! I had no idea you were Tim’s wife *or* that you did themes. (looks at portfolio – recognizes QUITE A FEW)

    Ron & I started out as freelancers together and now that we both work at Copyblogger/Studiopress, we are also on different “teams” (so to speak – not organized the same way) so I totally get the part where you’re both working at home and not really seeing each other or collabing on stuff. :D

  4. Hi,
    i just made czech translation for your theme “brand new day”. But can’t find your email to send you the translated files ;)
    If you want them, leave me a message…
    Your themes are superb! Good job.
    Regards,
    Jan

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