After 6 wonderful years working at my alma mater, today is my final day at UNC. Starting Monday I’ll be working as a WordPress core contributor for Bluehost.
I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t bittersweet. Chapel Hill has held a special place in my heart for as long as I can remember. As a kid growing up in Knoxville, TN, we used to make the 6 hour drive over for every home football game. I fondly remember staying at the Carolina Inn before the renovations made it nice and modern. Eating amazing pancakes for breakfast in the old cafeteria. Charlie “Choo Choo” Justice was often there too. Walking on top of the stone walls. Getting a Tar Heel face decal at the Shrunken Head Boutique. Checking the time on the giant sundial at Morehead Planetarium. Walking through the Quad and The Pit, with a quick stop at Student Stores on the way to Kenan Stadium.
That love for Chapel Hill and UNC continued as I got older and I was fortunate enough to spend 4 years there as an undergrad. I enjoyed every second of it. Every Carolina alumni knows there is something special and unique about Chapel Hill that is difficult to describe.
After graduating in 2006, I eventually found my way back in 2012 as they were moving toward using WordPress for their primary CMS and I was in the right place at the right time in my career.
I’ve been fortunate to work on some really fun things at UNC. During my time here:
- We grew a WordPress multisite environment from a sort of hobbyist/side project to an enterprise self-service offering hosting over 16,000 sites.
- We launched a WordPress multi-network environment that now hosts over 400 important university websites. This environment now hosts the primary site for 4 of 14 official schools within the university. And due to their success, 8 more are in the process of moving over to the centrally hosted platform.
- I got to help streamline our emergency alert system to automate posting and messaging across campus websites and digital signage.
- I ran the university’s Apple and Android developer accounts and helped groups all across campus launch mobile apps.
- We developed tons of WordPress plugins, sites, custom integrations and much, much more.
Beyond the work stuff, a lot has happened in my personal life since I started working at UNC. I got married. I bought a house. I had two wonderful sons.
After all of that, in some ways a change feels inevitable. Like it was time. In some ways it’s a little scary. Working at UNC has been an amazing experience and I’m definitely going to miss the people in ITS, the energy of the students, and the beauty of the campus.
But I’m also extremely excited about this opportunity. WordPress is something that has been very important to me for a long time. To be able to contribute to the project and the huge WordPress community as my job is a dream come true. We’re building out a really great team at Bluehost, and I can’t wait to get to work with them!
Oh, and to clarify, I’m definitely still living in Cary. I’ll be working remotely. And I’m keeping my season’s tickets for UNC football. I just won’t be in Chapel Hill every week anymore. 🙂