A Day in the Life of a VIP Support Engineer

Here’s what a typical day looks like for me as a Support Engineer working with enterprise customers.

Mornings:

Late winter sunrise.
Late winter sunrise.

My day starts between 6:00am and 6:30am. I live on the small family farm where I grew up. My wife and I moved back here in 2015 to settle down and raise our child. After I complete my morning routine, my dog, Timber, and I walk out to the farmyard to take care of the morning chores. We also have a younger dog named Daisy, but she’s still too young to tag along unattended. 

It’s not much work each morning. We let the chickens out of the coop and feed the barn cats. We bring some feed to the cows and get a herd headcount to make sure everyone is accounted for. Lastly, on the walk back towards the house, we do a quick check to make sure nothing seems amiss. 

Timber the Farm Dog

Once I’m back home, I prepare my breakfast. During breakfast, I typically like to peruse an article or two that I find interesting and chat with my wife.

Before I started working at WordPress VIP, I was a freelancer for about a decade. I was providing services to small businesses (WordPress development and support, website and server management, plus SEM campaign management). So working with WordPress from home is something I was already very accustomed to.

After breakfast, I head into the office and get logged in. Currently, my on-call shift runs from 9am to 11am each weekday. I typically get logged in about an hour before my on-call shift starts. During this hour I login to Slack to catch up on messages and happenings during the night. I also catch up on reading P2s. These are our internal team blogs that provide a wealth of information about what’s happening in and around WordPress VIP. Lastly, I catch up on emails.

After catching up on my reading, if time allows, I’ll spend some time improving a certain skill or learning something new. Sometimes I may have a challenging customer issue that I’ve been working on and I’ll start tackling that first thing in the morning.

My desk, complete with shabby mouse pad and my son’s heart stickers. 😅

Just before my on-call starts, I will review my calendar for the day to see what events and meetings I have on deck. Then it’s time for on-call. Support Engineers have on-call shifts where we work the ticket queue in Zendesk, our ticketing system. We pick up tickets as they come in and either resolve them if we can, or if they require additional team member support we’ll hand them off (usually to the developers). Our customers have SLAs for these tickets so we stay active in the queue to ensure that our customers receive high quality support well within their SLA.

Once my on-call shift ends, I shift gears and focus on my dedicated list of customers. I’m part of a cross-functional squad of seven that provides close support for ten enterprise customers. This close support involves weekly or bi-weekly meetings with the customer’s team members, such as their developers and project managers. These meetings typically also include an outside development agency that also works with the enterprise customer. During these meetings, we cover upcoming customer development sprints, strategic initiatives for their VIP hosted sites, upcoming platform related testing and upgrades, and other similar topics.

Outside of these customer meetings, I work with my squad members to support the customer’s developers in their work. This sort of work is varied and provides lots of opportunities to deep dive into code as well as many different processes and systems. A lot of this work is challenging and exciting as it provides new opportunities to learn as well as opportunities to demonstrate your expertise in specific areas.

Some examples that I’ve worked on recently:

  • Assisting developers debug a new feature or custom plugin.
  • Consulting on methods to cache authenticated custom API responses in a decoupled setup.
  • Consulting on matters of internationalization and localization of content.
  • Consulting and assisting with reverse proxy setup and testing ahead of a new site launch.

Afternoons:

A couple of my beehives.

I usually break for lunch around 12:30pm. This time can shift a bit depending on meetings, but I’m usually eating lunch between 12pm and 1pm. During my lunch break I also spend some time with my wife who also works from home. My son is also home more often now due to Covid, so I also get to spend some time with him during my lunch break. I also like to take a short walk around the farm yard towards the end of my lunch break to get some fresh air and check on things.

The cows grazing in early spring.

After lunch I’ll dive back into customer work or I’ll work on a side project. Currently, I’m working with other VIP team members to build out and improve our WooCommerce offering for enterprise level eCommerce customers. I enjoy the opportunity to work on these type of projects. Like customer projects, these side projects provide opportunities to build on existing skills and pursue things that interest me, such as eCommerce.

At least once a week, I like to set aside at least an hour or two for focus time. During this time I focus on learning something new or leveling up a skill. 

Throughout my day I’m regularly on Slack communicating with co-workers to help push work and tickets forward or requesting assistance. Communication is oxygen at Automattic and WordPress VIP. We need it to get our work done. Having such a diverse and skilled team to work with is one of the best perks of the job.

I usually wrap up my work day between 4pm and 4:30pm. After work, I usually head back out to the farmyard to take care of any work that needs to be done. Other days, I’ll help my wife in our kitchen garden for a bit, or play in the yard with my son and our two dogs.

Evenings:

I close the chicken coop just after sunset. We then have dinner around 7pm each night. After dinner, we clean up the kitchen and take our son upstairs to help him get ready for bed. Once he is in bed, I usually do some evening reading or watch some television with my wife. Then I’ll take the dogs out for a short walk around the house before bed. 

That is what an average day looks like for me. Of course, not all days are average and I have lots of flexibility in my schedule should I need to run an errand or go to a doctor’s appointment, etc. I also enjoy working from home where I am relaxed and have all my creature comforts. Also, you can’t beat the commute! 

Weekends: 

I mostly work Monday to Friday, but once a quarter I will work a weekend day shift and take a week day off the following week. Typically, I’ll work a Saturday shift and take the following Monday off. We provide 24/7/365 support to our customers who are located all over the world. Some of our customers have totally different weekends than what is traditionally considered the weekend in many Western countries. We also need to have personnel in place during the weekend in case anything goes wrong for a customer and they need immediate assistance. 

The weekend shift is usually much quieter than a week day of work. I’ll triage any tickets that come into the queue (which is very few most of the time). I’ll also pick up any open tickets and work to move them forward. During this shift when the queue is empty I’ll focus on reading P2s and learning new skills.



WordPress VIP and Automattic are hiring! Have a look at the many open positions.

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