UserConf Portland

Clockwise from the Bearded Bottom Left: Bijan, Joseph, Brittany, and Aimee. In Portland, Oregon for UserConf!

This is part of a series we’re doing to help people in our community get to know the person behind the chat screen. Say hi to Bijan at @bijanbwb in the chat room.

Hi, I’m Bijan and I’m an alcoholi… Oh wait, this isn’t the right place for that. My name is Bijan, and I’m a support-o-bot at Code School in sunny Orlando, Florida! By day I work on the support team, helping everyone out in any way that I can. By night I work on maintaining and improving our ever-growing library of Courses, taking all that great input from our users and turning it improvements for our product!

08:00 a.m.

Office

This is what our office looks like at the start of the day. Just beyond the glass door is where the magic happens.

I love getting to our office early in the morning. We have an open office plan with rows and rows of standing desks. Getting there relatively early affords me with an opportunity to get some focused work done and settle in before the chaos of the day takes a hold.

To get settled in, I set up my desk with a water bottle and coffee, and I place my backpack on a purse hanger that has made Amazon assume that I want to buy fashion accessories forever.

As a staunch advocate of minimalism, I keep very few OS X applications open throughout the day. Aside from a browser, we use Slack for internal communication, and I keep a Terminal open for any development or console-related tasks that I’ll need to run.

In my browser, I open tabs for Workflowy and Gmail so that I can periodically check in, but I keep this window minimized for most of the day to keep it out of sight. Then I open a separate browser window just for our support platform. Concentration is very important to me. I know that it takes very little to distract me, so I have to be mindful of things that will draw my attention. Keeping a single browser window open and hiding everything else allows me to give our users the focus that they deserve when they’re asking for help.

In just a handful of minutes, I’m already good to go. I dive into support and start helping our users. I can stand here and get work done for hours.

10:00 a.m.

Every Monday we have a company-wide stand-up meeting. It’s a great way to keep everyone in the loop and make sure that we all get a little face-to-face interaction time before we dive fully into our workweek. It allows us to do a general status update for company-wide initiatives, and then all of our teams (Operations, Marketing, Content, Front-end, Support, etc.) break off into individual groups and go over our plans for the upcoming week.

After that, I’m pretty much done with meetings for the week. There are always meetings going on to keep projects on track, but I steer clear. I think everyone here has a pretty good sense that I thrive on getting work done, so thankfully they spare me when it comes time for deciding who should be sitting in on hour-long meetings. I might check in once in a while, but for the most part I love working one-on-one with our users and everyone here at our company, and that’s what I do.

11:00 a.m.

Desk

My desk is where I spend most of my waking hours.

At this point, it is ON. It’s a good thing I managed to settle in early, because questions and requests for help are coming at me from every direction. New support conversations are coming in on our support platform, emails are flowing in, new posts are getting added to our community forum, my team is sharing urgent issues, other coworkers are asking for quick how-to tutorials, other employees from Pluralsight (the awesome company that acquired us) are asking me for help with cross-promotional materials, and developers are asking me about reproducing bugs that have been reported.

It can be overwhelming, but helping people is what we wanted, right? This is why we’re here.

This time will make up the bulk of my day, and that’s a good thing; because empowering others to succeed is a fulfilling and engaging endeavor.

01:00 p.m.

Lunch time. I can’t cook to save my life, and preparing a meal of any kind is beyond my ability. So I usually eat out for most meals, preferably anything involving steak or eggs.

I’m also a huge fan of working from coffee shops, so sometimes I’ll head out of the office for a change of environment. I’m pretty sure everyone recognizes me at most coffee shops within a 10 mile radius (Vespr being my favorite of the bunch). I tend to be friendly, but I’m still an introvert at heart; so I think most people just think of me as “the bearded guy with the weird name.” And I’m okay with that.

02:00 p.m.

For Act II of the day, I keep an eye on support to make sure that nothing is on fire, but I try to start transitioning into development mode. Sometimes this involves fixing small bugs that users reported recently. But most of the time I try to pick a course or two that I think could use some work, and then start pushing as many fixes, clarifications, and improvements as I can. If you’re interested in checking out what this process looks like, I recently wrote a couple of blog posts about some of the updates and insights.

03:30 p.m.

Ping Pong Room

Ping Pong room. This is also where they have Whiskey Wednesdays and a kegerator.

Ping Pong break! I love playing Ping Pong at our office. I tend to get really competitive, but thankfully this is just ridiculous enough that it stays light and fun. Aside from the actual game, it gives me a great opportunity to catch up with coworkers that I count as my closest friends here at Code School. Trying to win the pirate chicken dog toy that serves as our Ping Pong trophy gives us all meaning in our lives.

06:00 p.m.

Boulder, CO

I recently got to go on my first vacation and took a road trip all the way out to Boulder, Colorado!

Developing and fixing bugs can take some time, and we’re always doing our best to keep things running as smoothly as possible. After a hard day’s work, I’ll start packing up to head home. For the first year that I worked here at Code School, I was pretty much working all day every day. Thankfully, I held up okay and didn’t burn out; but my coworkers have been really supportive of me stepping away from being “always on” so that I can take time to recuperate.

I still put in an occasional burst of work once in a while on a night or weekend, but for the most part I try to strike a balance.

07:00 p.m.

Baldwin Park

View from my new apartment. It’s more laid back than what I’m used to coming from my beloved hometown of Miami.

I recently moved to a beautiful new apartment. I was living the college lifestyle well into my late twenties, so I was always okay with living somewhere convenient rather than nice. But I’ve really been enjoying going home to some peace and quiet after work.

In the past, I was a big drinker, and that took up most of my time. But in the present, I spend most of my free time with comedy, music, movies, and books. Since I am also one of those strange people that needs to keep everything organized, I track a lot of the music I listen to, the movies I watch, and the books I read. I’ve always been a big fan of stand-up comedy, and I also post dark comedy to my Twitter account once daily (although I should warn that it gets a little crazy sometimes). I blame it all on George Carlin, Norm MacDonald, and Louis CK.

Tomorrow

At Code School, there are currently four of us here on the support team (up from two last year!). I started back in October of 2013, and I’m happy to say that we have been continually improving. It can be daunting to make over 1.5 million users happy, but getting a little better one day at a time can be surprisingly fulfilling.