It’s a bit surreal to be writing this post—not many people can say they left their dream job twice. Today is my last day as an employee of Stack Overflow. I’ll be joining College Confidential as their Community Product and Operations Manager doing many of the same things I’ve been doing here but with a very different community. To the degree I’m ready for this challenge, it’s because of the amazing experience I’ve had with this community.
When I worked as a programmer at JPL, my first dream job, I was an avid reader of Joel on Software. Joel described software developers who were masters of their craft and companies that treated them accordingly. While I was treated quite well, I looked enviously at programmers who got private offices and didn’t have to fight for better computers. After I was hired at Stack Exchange I didn’t have to envy anymore. The company has always supported me and given me everything I need to excel.
Joel’s legacy won’t, I think, be comfortable chairs or adjustable desks, however. Stack Overflow has given us a far greater gift: global collaboration. Where else can you use the small chunks of time between meetings and such to help someone who lives who-knows-where solve their programming problems? And better than that, your answer can help other people you will never know for years to come. (Upvote notifications on old answers encourage me more than you can imagine.) In my childhood, this was literally the stuff of science fiction.
Obviously we’ve still a long way to go before we achieve an online utopia. As long as I’ve been a community manager, I’ve struggled with what the title means. The goal, however, has always been clear: guide people in the community toward a better future. I’ve developed skills in data analysis, behavioral psychology, event planning, survey design, user interviews, specifications, podcasting and, most importantly, written communication so that by any means available I can be an influence for the good of the community.
I’ve learned so much from my colleagues over the years. It’s impossible for me to imagine a more talented, caring, thoughtful and encouraging group of people to work with. Let me put it this way: I look forward to meetings. (I plan to continue hosting the Unicorn Meta Zoo podcast just so that I can interview my friends here at the company.) Stack Overflow has an amazing future thanks to the hard work of the Community Product team and the unsung heroes who are the Community Managers.
I made this decision in December and it's not correlated with the recent CM team changes. These are just an unfortunate coincidence.
Now I’m not leaving Stack Overflow and Stack Exchange entirely. I still plan to be a user of the sites and to apply to get my moderator diamond back. ;-) I think I come back to the community with a new perspective, ready to help in any way I can. I believe in the Q&A format as a means to pass along information and there is no better place to see that than the Stack Exchange network.