My grandad always used to say “živi se usput”, which translates from Serbian into “life happens while you are making plans“. Everyone is in a rush, planning their next weekend, holiday, career path, children…. Of course you have to exercise, stay fit, look good, relentless pressure is the way of life today. I happen to be one of those people who like making plans and setting goals. However, WordPress was never in any of my plans, I happen to stumble upon it. A friend of mine, Emma, a Cambridge philosophy graduate, who spends her time teaching circus arts, said “I stumble through life in general – I think the best people do it”. I think there is a lot of truth in this, sometimes the best things happen while you are busy making other plans. (This sounds a bit like an infomercial!)
When I spoke to Topher about this essay, he said to me “oh so your story is also about taking chances”. I never thought of my past actions as taking chances; I am one of those people who jump with their eyes closed, rather than take small calculated steps. But, I will tell you how and why I took a chance with WordPress.
BWP starts for me 6 months ago, because I have only been a WordPresser for the second part of 2016. I am a UCL graduate, I studied Italian and German language and literature. I have always been interested in reading, art, history of art and generally interested in understanding people. I used to go to the National Art Gallery in London with my dad and we would cover an era each time talking about how art changed, how the paintings happen to catch the change in culture and belief system of society. I continued to dedicate myself to art and language throughout my academic life, I wrote my dissertation in German, on an expressionist artist Oskar Kokoschka and for my MA I translated a black comedy in Italian that looks at social strata. I went on to study and work as a conference interpreter working in all four of my languages and getting lots of opportunities to meet different and interesting people.
I never imagined myself as a 60-hour-workweek girl in an office typing away on my computer. I planned my career to go a different way. I went to Italy to help create and promote a new teaching method called “edutainment”, teaching through entertainment. That’s where I was first introduced to marketing, localization and writing for an online audience.
Apart from being a quintessential bookworm, I am also a covert adrenaline junkie. This actually ties in well with all of my studies. Sports and studies have one common denominator – it takes a lot of discipline for both. When I was 3 years old I started rollerblading, my mother found the smallest rollerblades (ever made) and bought them for me. I also played ice hockey in a mixed team and in 2014 we won the national championship in the UK. I am a qualified volleyball coach and ski instructor. Currently my sport obsession is with aerial gymnastics, and acro yoga. I like challenging myself both physically and mentally.
In a recent interview with Tony Cecala, which was actually my first official interview for ManageWP, Tony said “never stop learning”, and this stuck with me, because I realized that the most important thing for me in whatever I do is to keep learning something new. At school I enjoyed learning new things, I enjoy trying out new sports and testing myself, and the same applies to work. Any job you do will have some repetitive aspect, and that is understandable, but it’s important for me to be in a position that embraces personal growth. That’s what WordPress has offered me, a combination of learning and support.
I was first introduced to WordPress, when I moved back home to Serbia. I applied to work at ManageWP, as “what the hell”, maybe there is a small chance they will call me back. My team lead happens to also play ice hockey and the first interview was us discussing hockey teams and player positions. Shortly after (they did test my skillset), I started working as a PR & Digital Marketer. As part of the Growth team my job was to get acquainted with the WordPress community, introduce people to our product through online and offline methods, write content and establish myself as a product evangelist. I worked in our Customer Happiness Team as well, helping communicate with our customers on a daily basis.
WordPress was taking a chance for me, because I never thought of myself as an IT type. My boyfriend on the other hand is a software engineer, and so instead of being enthused by his job, I was always put off. He spends hours a day in front of a computer looking at strange symbols (that’s PHP I hear). Now, ironically I can understand a large part of PHP, no thanks to my boyfriend, but to my ManageWP colleagues.
WordPress is actually for everyone, and that’s what’s fantastic about it.
Since being at ManageWP and part of the WordPress world, a lot has changed. I now have an online voice. I set up a blog, I was published on Tech.co, FishingBooker, Meks Themes, Devana Tech, Freelancermap and ManageWP. I also spoke at WordCamp Belgrade and it turned out to be one of the most popular talks of the day, I am speaking at WordCamp Split come September. On top of that I have been given an incredible opportunity to be part of the 2017 WCEU Paris organization team. WordPress has taught me how to express myself, in a non academic setting, how to become a better public speaker, and now I will learn how to help organize an event for a whooping 3 000 people. Never planned that!
WordPress has also offered me security by giving me a chance to do what I am good at. I have been able to dedicate myself to research, to writing and languages. I have also been able to carry on meeting people and travelling. A country like Serbia hardly offers international work opportunities, and WordPress has opened my eyes to a new community; a community that forges friendships across the world, accepts everyone, encourages tolerance, and welcomes rookies with open arms.
I don’t know of many other communities out there like WordPress, it’s rare to find a place where everyone is accepted and valued. It doesn’t matter if you are a software engineer or a language nerd, there is a place for you in WordPress. (This is the second part of my infomercial!)
The biggest thing that WordPress has taught me is that sometimes in the most unlikely of places you will learn the most valuable lessons.
It means that taking a chance is always worth the risk. Perhaps I wasn’t bred for the IT world, and I am more suited to be in the same room at the National Gallery as the 17th century French paysage painter, Claude, and his English counterpart of the 19th century, Turner. It so happens that I can’t paint, but I can write, and WordPress has created a virtual room in which I fit it.