Paul Von Schrottky
Joined January 2020
What led you to apply at Automattic?
I wanted to work on a product that had a big influence on how the internet is evolving. Automattic sponsors contributions to some of the most influential open-source projects out there, such as WordPress and Gutenberg. I wanted to be part of this movement.
A great culture and the fact that all Automattic employees can work from wherever they choose were also decisive factors in my decision to pursue a career at the company.
Tell us about your interview process and how it was unique
The interview process gave me a real taste of what working at Automattic would be like and how the company was different from places where I had worked previously. The first indication of this was the interview over Slack. Since a lot of communication at Automattic is text-based, it makes sense to interview candidates in a written rather than a verbal setting.
The next step in the interview process was a small take-home project where I got to dive into code (I’m a coder). This was my chance to demonstrate my technical chops!
Next came the trial, where I was paired up with a trial buddy and worked on a take-home project. The aim of a trial is to allow Automattic to get to know how you work and for you to get to know how Automattic works. It’s asynchronous, meaning that I’d often work on it while my trial buddy was offline and would get feedback or answers to my questions the next day.
The trial is also self-paced, which allows you to fit it around existing commitments (in my case, I was working full-time at my regular job). I’d say that the three key themes of my trial were communication, ownership, and proactiveness–not to mention technical ability. Automattic is looking for people who will drive their trial project forward and actively communicate with the team they’re working with.
Shortly after the trial concluded, I heard back from my trial buddy that they were recommending me for hire. At that stage, I had a good idea of what working at Automattic would be like and was excited by the prospect of joining the company. I had come this far without seeing any of my future co-workers face-to-face–or even on live video! The entire interview process had been text-based, something I’d never experienced before.
What does a day in the life look like for you?
These days I wake up, do exercise, get dressed, and then have breakfast before heading over to my home office–a short few steps away! I begin with my daily learning routine (at the moment it’s ReactJS) before logging into Slack.
When I’m ready to start my regular work I check my messages, emails, P2 notifications (a blogging platform we use internally), GitHub notifications, etc. Then I make a list of tasks for the day and split them roughly into project work and non-project work. My goal is to knock them out one at a time while occasionally checking for messages from my team and, if necessary, collaborating on tasks with them.
What’s the best part of working at Automattic?
I love the fact that my colleagues and I can collaborate and work together despite being in different parts of the world. I’m in Paraguay, and I might be working with a colleague based in Germany in the morning and another from the United States in the afternoon. After I log off, a colleague in Australia might comment on a blog post I wrote, which I see when I log in the next day. It completely levels the playing field and makes physical location a personal preference that doesn’t impact my career.
How does Automattic help you achieve your long-term career goals?
Automattic does an amazing job of making everyone feel safe and supported as we learn and grow while working together. There are numerous opportunities to rotate to different parts of the company, learn new skills (we have a “team learning hour” every other week where we often watch talks together over Zoom), and take on managerial tasks, if that’s your preference.
What would you say to someone considering applying for a role within Automattic?
I felt a little intimidated before applying, so I did my research on various blogs and sites as well as on YouTube. This gave me the confidence to make a deliberate decision to put my best foot forward and give it a try. The interview process at Automattic can be a new and unique experience for many–myself included–since it is mostly held over chat and involves a trial project. Be prepared, but don’t be intimidated–each and every one of us at Automattic went through the process and probably shared the same cautious optimism you might be feeling now as you think about applying.