In those days I was always respectable, and nothing unexpected ever happened.
—Bilbo Baggins, The Hobbit
Perhaps an ironic quote to accompany a picture throwing gang signs (also known as “The M” in the Magento Community). I saw The Hobbit last week and couldn’t help but laugh when the subtitle of the movie “An Unexpected Journey” is presented right after Baggins utters this quote.
Whether or not I ever was or am respectable is completely beyond the point. An Unexpected Journey; however, describes my story in the clearest of ways.
Community Managers have come from a variety of backgrounds but largely from studying either Marketing or Public Relations. My story begins with Graphic Design and Digital Media.
After four years of studying at a university smaller than your high school, I ended up back in my hometown. Since I was actually in my career path, with a job title of Multimedia Graphic Designer, I couldn’t complain. As fate would have it, my first task was to convert a catastrophe of web forms and plain text emails to an ecommerce solution.
Why does fate play a role? Magento, an open source ecommerce platform, had just been released in public beta eight days prior.
With enough knowledge to be dangerous, I simultaneously dove into their code and community forums. The Magento community was full of people willing to mentor those new to the code. As I continued to learn, I continued to get more involved by helping others.
My involvement in the forums led to a request to become a forum moderator. I accepted.
Shortly after that, Magento hired a Community Manager, Rhonda Rondeau. At the time I didn’t realize she was following standard protocol by befriending an active community member, but she did so flawlessly. As we became friends, Rhonda began to mentor me in community.
By the way, she totally hates it when I give her credit for this, but really she helped change my future and I’ll always be grateful for that.
Through a series of events I’ll never be able to fully comprehend, I now work in community and user experience for one of Magento’s Platinum Industry Partners, Sweet Tooth, a tech startup focused on Customer Loyalty for ecommerce.
It is really fun to combine customer loyalty and community management into one perfectly complimentary bundle.
My unexpected journey has led me to a career that I love while being surrounded by people that I couldn’t possibly be more thankful for and moving to a country I never expected to live in.
In honor of Community Manager Appreciation Day, let me just say: If you want to work in community management, go find a community and get involved. Take action. Now.