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High Fives Markel! WordPress

“How Do I Get a Job at Automattic?”

I get about a half-dozen emails a year via my contact form asking me this question or asking related questions, like how to craft a resume, or what it’s like to work at Automattic. I thought I’d jot something down so I can just send a link the next time this happens, as my advice hasn’t changed much over time. :)

I’ve been here for seven years as of this writing, so I thought I’d share what I tell people who ask me this question (in a slightly expanded format). I’m not involved in hiring. This is not “official” advice of any kind. It’s just what I say to people, made public and repeatable.

First things first:

I love working at Automattic. You might not.

I will extol the virtues of my job whenever you ask me about it. It’s the best place I’ve worked, and I have found it to be very rewarding.

Not everyone will feel this way. The amount of freedom we have to get or not get our jobs done is unlike anything else out there. It can be very isolating and lonely to not see your team in person more than two to three times per year. I think even those of us who have embraced what we do struggle with this from time to time, and for some it can be significant.

But if you are willing to engage without having to be asked to do so, love working with people who are intelligent and come from all walks of life, and are down with being challenged often, you’ll probably fit in well.

So, how to get a job here? Let’s talk.

Read through our open positions and see if something is right for you.

You can find Automattic’s open positions here. Take a look and see if you spot something you’d enjoy doing and think you can do well. Read the job description and requirements to make sure you understand them and know how you would theoretically fit in the role.

Now, take a strong, focused look at the part of the job listing that talks about how to apply. This is going to be very important. :)

Follow the instructions regarding how to apply. Read them twice.

There are some things you will see in every job listing regarding how to apply. Take note of them and follow them. They are not there at random. Basically:

  • Make a resume/CV/whatever you want to call it. Prioritize and emphasize experience and skills that would directly impact the job role, but don’t ignore even side things that make you unique.
  • Attach it to an email sent to the address provided in the job description. The email is your cover letter. Introduce yourself. Be concise. This is your first impression, and it’s text-only. (As we are largely a text-communication-driven company, you should get used to this idea.) Make sure you include anything that’s specifically requested in the job description call for applications.
  • Double-check your spelling and grammar. Fix anything you need to fix.
  • Check it again.
  • Once more.
  • Send and wait. :)

You might get a trial; you might not. But putting yourself out there is the first step.

(Oh, and if you don’t know about how our hiring works with the trial process, where you perform contract work to see how that goes, you should probably read about that.)

I’m not lying when I say that’s pretty much it. When you boil down the process of applying for a job here, it’s pretty simple. That said:

Here are some focuses/traits I believe in based on my time at Automattic.

Again, let me stress this is my opinion and not in any way “official.” Nothing I say here is even remotely a guarantee, and I don’t have anything to do with hiring (really, I don’t), but these are things I will usually recommend to someone when they ask me personally what they can focus on.

These are mostly things I really like to see or admire in people I work with. :)

Be open to criticism.

It’s totally possible you’ll be rejected for the job, either before or during the trial process. When this happens, you may receive some reasons why you were turned down. Or you’ll receive some constructive feedback during your trial. Be open to it. Embrace the idea that you don’t know everything, because believe me—as a full-time employee for many years now, I still realize this often.

Be dogged in adapting to and implementing that criticism.

I applied to Automattic three separate times over a year-and-a-half before I received a trial. I had to change focus mid-trial before I was hired based on feedback. Some of the best colleagues I have at Automattic went through a trial, received feedback and a rejection, and then trialed again later with success. If and when you receive feedback, take it to heart and then apply it. Or apply again. Or both. :)

Be willing to say up-front when you don’t know something and be open to learning.

I would rather work a million times over with someone who is willing to admit when they don’t know something or are stuck on something and ask for help than someone who tries to fake it. Admitting you need help is not a weakness. It is literally impossible for everyone to be an expert at everything.

Be willing to help others.

I’m big on leading by example. Everyone has gifts and strengths, and everyone is at a different level. Just as you should be willing to let others help you, be willing to share your knowledge and experience with others. Be kind and instructive. Don’t always offer to just take charge of things—though on occasion, that’s necessary—but aim to level up your (potential) team.

Be yourself.

Automattic contains the most diverse and interesting group of people alongside whom I have ever worked. It is an amazing collection of individuals from whom I have learned much and with whom I have enjoyed spending time during meetups. Embrace this and be willing to commit yourself to it as well. (BTW, if the real you is introverted, that’s totally OK. There are lots of us here. If you have to take a break, we understand.)

Have at least a passing familiarity with the Automattic suite of products.

How much of this depends greatly on the job for which you are applying. Some positions might not require a lot of PHP or familiarity with WordPress. Others will be based almost entirely around this. I think it’s a good rule of thumb to at least know the core business of Automattic and what we do before wanting to work here. :)

Embrace open source.

An open source ethos drives Automattic and is core to our identity. Know what that means. Past and ongoing contributions to open source projects, whether it’s code, testing, design, documentation, or whatever, will give you valuable experience in what it’s like to work with those types of projects and is a bonus.

(Again, this will somewhat depend on your desired job role.)

Get comfortable with text-only communication. And in learning how your writing tone can be interpreted.

To be honest, I still have trouble with this sometimes. Text communication is hard. Without vocal inflections, facial expressions, and other body language, it’s easy to read something and get the wrong impression.

It’s a skill to craft your text communication in a way that others will understand your tone and intention. Dedicate yourself to learning that skill. (Yes; sometimes this means using emoji. They are very, very helpful for establishing tone.)

This space reserved.

I’m sure there are things I’m not thinking of, but I have been writing this blog post for three days and I should probably just publish it. If you are a fellow Automattician and reading this, and I forgot something obvious, ping me and let me know. If you are a reader and you have additional questions, feel free to contact me. I’ll edit some things in to this post later if needed.

I will never stop learning. I won’t just work on things that are assigned to me. I know there’s no such thing as a status quo. I will build our business sustainably through passionate and loyal customers. I will never pass up an opportunity to help out a colleague, and I’ll remember the days before I knew everything. I am more motivated by impact than money, and I know that Open Source is one of the most powerful ideas of our generation. I will communicate as much as possible, because it’s the oxygen of a distributed company. I am in a marathon, not a sprint, and no matter how far away the goal is, the only way to get there is by putting one foot in front of another every day. Given time, there is no problem that’s insurmountable.

Categories
Games High Fives

One-Second Galaxy Fight

I’ve actually never played this game before, but this tournament(?) of matches for an (I’m assuming relatively) obscure Neo-Geo title with the timer set to only one second is beautifully insane:

A port of the title to PS4 was released last week, and you can buy that here for $7.99.

It’s been confirmed the one-second round timer is possible in the port:

If anyone knows any of the other rules that were used in the Japanese tournament video, let me know; it looks like it’s at least set to Level 1. I’m not sure there are any other settings that matter. :)

Categories
Games High Fives

Reference Images for FGC Broadcast Graphics

I was messing around with doing some (very early) work with NodeCG tonight.

(It’s not going well so far, but that’s because I’m generally clueless.)

While doing this, I considered the idea of fighting game overlays that could be used with a “toggle” for whatever game is being played (or even key off an external API like Challonge). I then realized that it is really useful to have static reference images for various games to make sure you are not putting overlay images in bad places.

This has a lot of utility even for setting up OBS or Xsplit, because you can add the image as a background and then maneuver your layout stuff as you need to make sure you are not obscuring any screen items, especially meters.

I’ll put this behind a more link just so casual visitors to my site don’t get hit with OMG WALL OF IMAGES. If there is a game that is not represented here that you would like to see, or I have made a mistake, please drop me a note and let me know which one. I’ll see if I have it and can whip up some images for you.

All HUD elements are in default locations.

Click on any image to view as full-size.

You can also download a ZIP archive of all current screens. If you stream large events with regularity, please contact me and I can give you access to a Dropbox share of these images. If you want to know when I update the screens, you should follow me on Twitter.

Use the images to do cool things with your streams. :) If you find them helpful or useful, please consider dropping me a tip or just following my Twitch channel where I play games poorly.

Categories
Games High Fives Markel!

Extra Life 2016: Another Good Year

This year’s Extra Life marathon was another great time. I spent some time playing games with my kids, had a great co-op session with my best friend, and generally enjoyed the 25 hours of video games (with some breaks!) while fundraising for St. Louis-area children’s hospitals.

To date, you have helped me raise just over $700 for this cause.

For that, I thank you all. Your support every year when I do this crazy thing means a ton to me and it’s good to know you are interested in helping with this cause.

And know that it’s not too late! You can still donate to this year’s campaign by going to this page and giving what you are able or moved to do:

http://www.extra-life.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=donordrive.participant&participantID=196644

I fell short of my goal, but that’s OK. It’s the effort and your assistance that counts. :)

I’ll be working on some additional stream stuff and a different kind of donation goal starting later this month. I’ll be posting about that soon. :)

Categories
Code High Fives WordPress

WordCamp US Presentation: Code Review

Howdy! I just finished giving this presentation at WordCamp US 2016 about code review: about why and how you should do code review on your projects.

The Presentation

Here’s a SlideShare embed of the presentation deck:

WordCamp US 2016 – Ryan Markel: Code Review from themarkel

And you can download the source Keynote presentation file here.

References

I referenced a bunch of things in my talk and mentioned that you could find those sources in this post, so here’s the list in the order you’ll run across it in the presentation:

Have any questions?

If you have any questions, comments, corrections, or whatever, please contact me. I’ll be happy to hear from you.

Categories
High Fives Markel!

Get on My Wife’s Thanksgiving Day Level

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I married a woman who goes big on Thanksgiving with no reservations. She’s the best, and she made today super amazing. We owe her a week off after this one.

(Check my Twitter stream for bonus pie pic.)

Categories
High Fives

Office = Decked

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My job here is done.

Categories
High Fives Markel!

Seiwa-en in Fall

We took a family walk around the Missouri Botanical Gardens yesterday, and it was exactly what I needed. The air was nice and cool, there wasn’t too much wind, and the sun was out just the right amount. You had to work pretty hard to take a bad picture of the gardens that day.

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The fall color in the Japanese garden, named Seiwa-en (清和園), was perfect. If you are in the area, you should make time to go and just walk for a while. Sit and enjoy the color and the sounds of the garden.

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Spring—during the cherry blossoms—in undeniably my favorite time in the garden, and winter holds its own beauty as well, but I think right now, many of us need these kinds of breaks. The world is becoming more chaotic, and sometimes you need to get away from it to retain perspective.

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It is good to be reminded sometimes that we are part of something that is larger than ourselves.

(Colleagues: St. Louis is a great spot for your next meetup.)

Categories
High Fives

Hey, Americans: Go Vote

No, seriously.

I have nothing else witty or informative or even basic to write here.

Find your polling place.

Get up and vote.

That is all.

Categories
Games High Fives Markel!

Extra Life 2016

It’s that time of year again. When I’m broadcasting, you’ll see it here:

tl;dr Version

My Extra Life marathon for this year runs from 8 a.m. Central time Saturday, November 5th until 8 a.m. Central time Sunday, November 6th.

You can watch at http://live.backlogathon.com/.

You can donate to the fundraiser at http://extralife.backlogathon.com/.

I’d love it if you would stop by during the marathon and watch. I’d love it more if you chose to donate to the fundraiser as it is for a very worthy charity. A schedule is located at the bottom of this page.

Thank you!

(end tl;dr)

What’s the Extra Life Marathon?

Every year, thousands of people pledge to slightly break themselves and have a lot of fun doing it to support Children’s Miracle Network hospitals through the Extra Life program. This will be my fourth year contributing to the program.

The marathon date this year is November 5th, and starting at 8 a.m. that morning, I’ll be playing video games, both solo and with friends, for 25 hours (yes, 25 hours, because that is Daylight Savings Time change weekend). I’ll play a variety of things and will have some donation incentives along the way to make things interesting (more on that later).

As part of the marathon, I’ll be streaming the entire thing live on Twitch and will have donation callouts during the broadcast. Donations will pop up a fun notification, and if you donate during certain blocks or games, I’ll let you either choose something fun or extend the amount of playtime, depending on what’s going on. But you’ll need to tune in to know what those things are!

What Is Extra Life? Where Does that Donation Go?

This is a great question, and I feel compelled to give you some information on this so you know that Extra Life is a good, solid, well-run program and not a charity where your dollar is just going to disappear and not benefit anyone.

Extra Life is a program run by Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, a well-respected and efficient foundation that raises over $250 million each year for the purpose of funding children’s hospitals, medical research, and community awareness.

CMN has a four-star out of four-star rating with Charity Navigator, and based on their research, contributes over 88% of raised funds to services and programs.

Extra Life is even more special, as 100% of the funds raised by my fundraiser will be forwarded directly to the two St. Louis children’s hospitals supported by my fundraiser as unrestricted funds, meaning the hospital is given discretion on where and how to spend that money to deliver and improve care to sick children who need our help.

How Can I Help?

Last year, I raised over $1,000 for St. Louis area children’s hospitals. This year, I’d like to double that and reach for over $2,000. I’ll need your help to do this.

The first thing you can do is watch the marathon. If you have some spare time over the weekend, turn it on and help boost my viewer numbers. I’ll try at the least to be not-boring and maybe at the most be entertaining. The more people I have watching, the more chance there is that random other people will pop by. You can watch on any computer, or if you have the Twitch apps for your phone, Xbox, or Playstation, you can look up my channel, which is “backlogathon”. There’s also a chat during the stream—feel free to type some things there and let me know how it’s going or if there’s something I can do better!

The second thing you can do is share with others that the marathon is happening. Here’s a tweet and a Facebook post you can share around:

The third thing you can do is to donate to the fundraiser. I don’t expect everyone to be able to do this, so it’s the thing I’m putting last in this post. If you have the available funds, any donation will help. Check the stream first or the schedule below—there may be an incentive going on! You might be able to direct part of the stream or get me to do something interesting!

OK; So What’s Going On During the Marathon?

Here’s the current schedule for the marathon, which is subject to change:

Some hours will have special guests (hint: my family). Other hours will have special donation incentives, for small and large amounts. You’ll need to tune in to the stream or follow me on Twitter to know what those incentives are!

The first basic donation incentive is that for every $5 donated during the Rock Band block, you can choose one track from my library for me to play on Expert Guitar or Bass. (Please note that a very few tracks in my list are not yet in Rock Band 4 and I may have to force you to choose an alternate.) You’ll need to be in stream chat to redeem your donation incentive!

There is ONE donation incentive that has been set in stone ahead of time: if I break the $2,000 donation goal for the whole drive, I will commit to one hour of playing Rock Band 4 on Expert Vocals. I have never sung on stream before in my life. I’ll do a playlist of my choosing, and maybe some bonus donation incentives for choosing specific tracks to force me to sing.

You are guaranteed that the playlist will contain AT LEAST ONE JUSTIN BIEBER TRACK.

If you want to see this happen, you know what to do!