What seems like an April Fool’s Day joke, certainly is not. It’s true, folks. Tom McFarlin, longtime WordPress community leader, WordCamp speaker, and the person behind Pressware, has joined WebDevStudios (WDS) as a Senior Backend Engineer.
(Pause for response.)
To set the record straight, Tom took some time during his first day of on-boarding at WDS and shared the story behind what propelled him to make this surprising career move and offered advice to anyone thinking about doing the same.
WDS: Hi, Tom. Welcome to your first day at WDS! What prompted your decision to make this big change in your career?
Tom: For the majority of the time I’ve worked with WordPress, I’ve known that I wanted to make a career out of it. In terms of how, though, I wasn’t sure.
Over the past few years of building custom solutions for small businesses and individuals, I wanted to begin applying much of that knowledge and increase my learning and experience in an enterprise setting with a great team who also allow me to pursue interests both inside the company and out.
This means that I can still moonlight on WordPress projects that are pertinent to Pressware, but I can focus on the standard 9-to-5, as they say, for WDS, the team, and the work.
It’s not a matter of making sure that every single thing aligns, though. I don’t know if that can happen; however, I think that it’s completely possible to maximize the degree to which they do.
WDS: What is it about WDS that inspired you to join our team?
Tom: For most of us, especially those who opt to jump from self-employment into an agency or another company, finding a company who has the same values, ethics, and perspective is important. Further, it’s about finding the types of problems to be solved as both challenging and edifying.
It’s not that I think every project has to be that way. I don’t even know if that’s possible, but it’s nice when as many of those things as possible fall into place. So after watching WDS for some time, seeing the work the team does, observing the culture, and seeing how WDS invests in the team, it seemed to be a wise career move.
WDS: What sort of projects are you hoping to dive into?
Tom: Generally speaking, I’m looking to help build well-designed and well-architected backend systems that power many of the enterprise-level projects that WDS is responsible for creating.
I’m looking forward to using a modern workflow (through standards, tooling, and so on), all the while staying within the WordPress economy.
WDS: What else are you looking forward to?
Tom: In no particular order, I’m looking forward to working with the existing team of engineers so that I can learn from them (and hopefully contribute something back).
I’m also looking forward to the projects the organization is responsible for building and running and working with WordPress on that scale. Ultimately, and if it isn’t clear enough, it’s about the people and the projects. I’m really excited about all aspects of it.
WDS: Any tips or advice for people who are looking to transition from freelancing or working as a solopreneur to working full-time for an agency?
Tom: This is a decision that you should not make lightly. You have to know what it is that you want. If you can’t articulate it, then you shouldn’t be looking to make the move. Talk with your spouse, partner, friends, and those whom you consider as having the wisdom on making a change like this.
For example, one of the things that is important to me is being able to work with a team of talented engineers who encourage one another and educate one another. Additionally, it’s also to work in a field that fosters working on projects outside company time so that you can further your education in the area and bring it back to the business to help push the web forward via the use of WordPress.
All of the above allows me to continue growing my skill set within WordPress and working with people and customers of all types all across the board. This is the case for me, though. It may not be the case for you. You have to find what it is you want out of your career and the actively seek out organizations that will be a mutually beneficial fit. If it’s one-sided, one party is going to be short-changed, and that doesn’t help anyone.
Instead, determine what you’re looking to achieve out of your career—be as agnostic as possible from looking at it as a solopreneur or as a member of an agency—and then move in the direction that best aligns with what you want out of your career.
You can familiarize yourself with Tom further by visiting his personal website at TomMcFarlin.com. Are you looking for a career in WordPress? Visit our Careers page and see what opportunities we currently have at WDS.