A Day in the Life of a Happiness Engineer: Monday

My colleague, Andrea Badgley, says it best, “When I applied for my job as a Happiness Engineer, I wasn’t entirely sure what the job would entail.” Having previously held titles like Webmaster, Instructional Technologist, and Web Support Specialist, I was used to dry and boring job titles that left someone with a yawn rather than an impression. Typically, the second I say my job title I am met with an intrigued response of “Wait, really?”. Defining what a Happiness Engineer does is only complicated by the fact that there are thousands of ways to define happiness. At Automattic, that’s embraced as each happiness engineer’s daily life is different from another’s. Here is a glimpse into what mine looked like today:


I rolled out of bed trying to wipe jet lag out of my eyes. I glanced at my phone and proceeded to begin making a nice cup of coffee using an old school Chemex coffee maker. In the interim, I peeled some hard boiled eggs and snagged a plum for breakfast.

Sidenote: I’m running with the fact that I am still experiencing jet lag despite being home in Winter Park, FL visiting my parents for almost two weeks.


I opened up my computer and checked my Workflowy to-do list. I like to spend Monday’s prepping for the week’s vision and wrapping up any loose ends from the weekend. I read over some P2 posts that were relevant from the weekend. I then pinged a couple of other automatticians about p2 posts I knew were outstanding and got to work looking at the ticket queue for VaultPress.

10AM to 1PM

During this time, I focused on answering tickets as well as adding to a situational internal help document for future Happiness Engineers. Tickets fall into these categories right now:

  • Backup problems
  • Restore failures
  • Security questions
  • Connection problems
  • Billing questions

The first four categories listed above can result in tickets taking 1 minute to answer to tickets taking 1 hour to answer (if not longer). Because VaultPress is a service for WordPress.org users, we often have a variety of complicating factors that we simply can’t see. Fortunately, our team is small and well connected resulting in a team effort often to solve a user’s issue. This is a ton of fun because you get to see what each person’s thought process and get to use their strengths to fill in the gaps of your knowledge. With each ticket I answered, I found myself adding more and more to the document I already started about situationals & error messages we are seeing, what they indicate, and what steps to take to troubleshoot. I’ve been using Quickcast to make some awesome GIFs to demonstrate issues as well (so much fun).  The result is that while I am working to make life easier for VaultPress users, I am also making life (hopefully) easier for future VaultPress Happiness Engineers. How cool! Finally, I got in touch with my buddy during his happiness rotation to make sure everything was going well. He is in Vancouver so he was just waking up when I pinged him!

1PM to 2PM

I have been putting off renewing my passport for two years now. The stress of trying to graduate college must have made me believe that leaving the country was hopeless 😉 I finally took some time today to go take care of that! The “problem” with having an awesome job that encourages you to travel and live life as you want is that you need a passport! Checked off the list.

2PM to 3PM

I spent most of this time grinding away at tickets while snacking on some food. There was a particular tricky ticket that kept me fiddling away and scratching my head for the majority of this time. On the plus side, I learned something new about how Google deals with malicious site notices. Midway through me scratching my head for the 10th time during this hour, I was pinged by another Automattician about helping with a nonprofit site in San Francisco. I had previously talked with another Automattician about helping with the site after I expressed an interest in working with nonprofits. I was STOKED to be pinged about this. I quickly was brought up to speed and discussed a time when I could both come in to walk the nonprofit through their site as well as when I could walk through the site with the Automattician who put it together. Day. Made.

3PM to 3:30PM

This time every Monday is the only meeting time I have on my calendar. I am being generous by saying it lasted 30 minutes. I actually almost forgot about it and jumped on the call with my team three minutes late. We all went around saying what we were up to for the week and discussed a couple of important changes to our system. When it was my turn,  I talked about an idea to start creating a running weekly list of common issues so that we can track them over time. My main focus is to continue to gather as much information as I can about what we do and put it into coherent and helpful documentation. After the team meeting, the Happiness Engineers stuck around to chat briefly about a time when we could all connect to set goals for support.

3:30PM to 6:30PM

During this time, I dug around the nonprofit site to get up to speed a bit more. Fortunately, I had just used the theme last week to create a site for a talk I gave at my former middle school. I love the theme so it was fascinating to see how it was used to create a vastly different looking site. I then worked on closing out tickets and checking in on the pings I sent in the morning. In between tickets, I added what I learned to the running list of situationals. I was able to add 3 new situationals to the document today after a week’s worth of work previously. VaultPress support can be an interesting beast as the same problem in the same set up very rarely happens! This also makes for a fun day as you are able to constantly learn and problem solve.


I hopped off and headed to my grandma’s house. She has a new electric wheelchair that I got to see her use for the first time (perks of being home is getting to see these little life events). I also ate a bit too much of her chocolate there. I swear she has a never ending supply.

9PM to 9:30PM

I wrote this post!

This week, I’m documenting my day along with many other Automatticians. If you’d like to follow along, we’re using the #a8cday tag. Want to join in on the fun?  Work with us!


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