On the 1st of April 2012, I was one of six new hires joining the WooThemes team, raising the total number of WooThemes team members to 23. It has been an amazing ride so far and the approaching end of this year made me realize yet again what a great decision it was to jump on the WooThemes train.
The end of a year is always a great way to reflect on what happened. When I joined WooThemes, I planned on writing multiple blog posts on what I was working on, what I liked most and other post related to my work. As we all know, it is hard to make time for those blog posts and I never really wrote a thing this past year.
So, now is the time to look back. Look back at the year 2012 where I quit my internet agency job, joined WooThemes and realized I had found my dream job.
My Year Started at an Internet Agency
The first quarter of this year, I worked at an internet agency. Short story: I wasn’t happy with that, which is why I resigned. Previous years, I had been working as a freelance developer and it was obvious to me that I liked the freedom of being self employed much better than working at the internet agency.
About at the same time I made the decision to leave the internet agency, a job opening at WooThemes for a developer position in the WooCommerce division was brought to my attention. In 2010 I had the chance to meet Mark, Adii and Magnus at WordCamp Netherlands and I remembered them as being real cool guys, working on constantly achieving their dreams with the company they were running. It seemed like a no brainer to apply for that position.
As I mentioned previously, I was just quitting a job at a company to have more freedom in my work. I decided to start reading more about WooThemes, how the people are working there and what the general vibe in the company is. I worked with Mike Jolley to get a WooCommerce extension in their store before, so I knew WooThemes was a distributed company, people working wherever they want and at the working hours they prefer.
Thinking everything through once more, this was the dream job for me. Working with a fantastic team, building a great product and still being able to have the freedom that I wanted by working from home (or wherever I want, as long as I get the job done).
So I applied for the job, got in touch with the people I would be working with and eventually got picked for the job as a developer for the WooCommerce project. The interview process was very personal. I was talking to Mike Jolley and Mark Forrester all the time. As Mark was on the other end of the world and Mike closer by but still far away, the interview process was done via email. But they still managed to give me a warm feeling. Starting April, I was a team member of WooThemes. (Got excited about working for WooThemes? We’re hiring!)
The first few months flew by as I was learning every single day. I got to know everyone in the WooThemes team, they really made me feel at home from the very first day and feel like my second family now. It takes a bit getting used to working remotely full time, never really meeting your fellow team members in person (except for when we fly all over the world, more about that later) and most communication is done via text: Skype, IRC and email.
It was the first time that I really worked on a product instead of doing client work. Mike Jolley and James Koster are the two guys that I work with most of the time, they have been building WooCommerce ever since it was born. They introduced me to everything I needed to know, from auditing extensions from other developers to fixing (and breaking 🙂 ) our own plugin.
I owe those two guys so much, they really made it easy for me to join the team and start working on the project from day one.
Meeting My Coworkers in Person
WooThemes being a distributed company has a lot of upsides, you don’t have to live near our office to join the team for example. Most of my coworkers do not live near our Cape Town office, but live scattered over the globe. This is also the first downside people can think of when I mention the fact that we are a distributed company:
So you never get to see your coworkers in real life?.
Within two months after joining WooThemes, my girlfriend and I flew to New York for a holiday in the city we both love. She secretly planned that holiday to happen at the same time WordCamp New York took place and got me a ticket. In the end, I even got the chance to do a talk at the WordCamp. I knew that Scott Basgaard was going to be there as well and so the first meeting with a coworker was planned!
About a month after that, I got the chance to do a similar talk at WordCamp UK, hosted in Edinburgh this year. Mike and James would be there as well, so it was a great opportunity to meet my two fellow WooCommerce developers!
I had a great time at and around both WordCamps, meeting my coworkers and having a great time with them. We have to fly a little to meet each other, but that makes those meetings even more special!
And then there was the WooTrip. The WooTrip is the annual trip for everybody in the team, where the entire team is flying to one place to have a week of team building and overall great fun. This years destination was Cape Town, South Africa where our HQ is as well. I have written a more detailed recap on the WooTrip already (and be sure to check out the awesome video that was made), but I have to stress the awesomeness of such a trip again.
When a team of around 25 people from all over the world (who work together all year but not get a chance to meet very often) gather at a top notch villa in sunny South Africa, it really is a dream trip! Besides the fact that is the perfect chance to meet and really get to know the entire team, we had an absolute great time.
2012 was a good year
If you couldn’t already tell from everything I’ve explained in this post: 2012 was a great year for me. I have found my dream job, had the chance to travel all over the world and meet great people.
And this was only the business side of things. In 2012, I also got engaged and to top everything off, we are expecting a baby! It was a wonderful year for me.