A good friend of mine, Eric Knapp, is a teacher at Madison College in Madison, WI. He’s an awesome teacher and has a ton of smart students come through his classes. One of his students, Kathryn Sweet, guest-posted on the Anita Borg Institute’s Medium account about her experiences with being turned down for internships because she’s treated as an inferior student.
Closing off internships to community college students disproportionately affects students of color, lower-income students, and students who are supporting families.
It’s incredibly stupid to consider community college students as unqualified for internships. I started my college career off with a two-year degree at Milwaukee Area Technical College – an institution related to Madison College where Kathryn attends. I got a great education there and it jump-started my drive to go further with a bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Had I not attended MATC and gotten a job with an employer willing to pay for my tuition I may not be where I am today.
Read her post and if you’re in the position of being involved with hiring at your company, take it to heart.
Some people have asked me what it’s like working for Automattic. Every employee of Automattic has a different perspective on what it means to work here. Here are a few things I feel are important to me.
Work Wherever, Whenever
Automattic is a completely distributed company. We have a headquarters in San Francisco, CA USA but only a small percentage of us work out that office. Most of us work from home, some of us work on the road, others work from a coworking space. Sometimes it’s nice being able to change your location once in a while – I pretty much like working from my home office. I like working a regular day, usually 7am – 4pm my local time and I fit some sort of exercise routine in there half way through. We have flexibility to make our own hours and take the time off we need to. We’re adults and we’re treated as such.
Equipment for your Job
First thing asked of any employee starting is to order their computer. You’re allowed to order the equipment you need for your job – usually a Mac laptop and a large display. You’re also given a budget amount for your home office furniture – desk, chair, lighting, monitor arms, etc. I got a really nice standing desk from UpDesk and a Herman Miller Aeron chair. I love standing during the day!
Everyone at Automattic is on a primary team, sometimes on a secondary one as well. We work virtually using IRC, Skype, and private blogs to communicate. Sometimes we even do a Google Hangout when we want to see face to face:
One every 3-4 months you meet up with your team in real life. In January our team met up in Tokyo, Japan. We spent seven days coworking and having fun at night. It’s a team-building exercise as well as a chance to get some high-velocity work accomplished. It’s a great way to recharge your team dynamic and to meet the new people! Once a year Automattic hosts a Grand Meetup when we all converge in a single place. We like to create special teams for the GM and either ship new real features within that week or do code training teams. It’s a great way to meet people outside of your normal team and fun to boot!
It takes the right person to work at Automattic. You have to be a self-starter and have the ability to stay focused on your work. I’ve discovered more about myself than I thought I would almost immediately and working here has made me a better person. Every position, regardless of it being technical or not, goes through a multistep process for hiring. Matt Mullenweg, the founder and CEO, reviews every application submitted to Automattic. If an application passes his muster, it’s forwarded onto the team or teams responsible for hiring. The hiring lead reviews the application and scheduled a text-based Skype chat to see if they’d be a good fit for the position and company. One or more people from the destination team may be involved, too. If that goes well, the applicant is directed to complete a pre-trial project. This small unit of work will show the applicant’s domain knowledge and ability to communicate. After the pretrial work, if the team agrees to move forward, the applicant enters into a trial period. You are paid to work on a part time basis with your team on a real piece of work. This is your chance to integrate with Automattic and immerse yourself in the culture. Take it all in – the process is a trial for Automattic to hire you and also a trial to see if you’re going to like working here. If the trial is a success for both sides, then Matt makes the final call on hiring.
It’s not the fastest hiring process, but it’s definitely the most straightforward and transparent hiring process I’ve ever been involved in. It takes about a year, so I’m told, to get a real grasp on all of the moving parts at Automattic. I’m still learning every day and continue to work on how I want to accomplish my work every day. It’s a lot of fun and rewarding!