Laura Carletti on How a Lifetime of Curiosity Leads to “Aha!” Moments

June 22, 2021

There are some people whose career choice makes perfect sense when looking back at their childhood interests. That’s the case with May’s Star of the Month, Laura Carletti. Her interests in languages, the internet, WordPress, and a strong sense of curiosity set her up perfectly for her role as the Chat Leader and 1st tier supporter on WPML’s rockstar support team!

A childhood filled with curiosity

I was born and raised in Rome, where I still live with my wife. Mine was an average middle-class family, both my parents were employees. But both loved (and they still do) to read and to travel. Their house is basically a library, full of souvenirs from their trips. I think this fuelled my curiosity about the world and my desire to know more about different cultures. No wonder my sister and I both took a degree in languages!

With my wife during our honeymoon in Miyajima island

I’ve always been the “strange” one, picking up hobbies not very common in my teenage years, like reading Japanese comics, playing table role-playing games or softball. I still do all of this stuff, and even more.

Since I had all these interests, and as an introverted person, the internet was a paradise for me. I wanted to build websites so I could share what I knew with others and my thoughts about the world. That’s how I eventually met WordPress, which I’ve been using on-and-off since 2005.

Me playing softball

Laura’s career journey

Before joining OntheGoSystems, I did a lot of different things – freelance translator, Italian teacher for foreigners, editor, quality assessment for websites… But I had never considered an IT job because I didn’t think I was qualified enough.

Visiting Villa Pisani in Northeastern Italy

In 2018, while I was working at a law firm, I stumbled upon a post in a Facebook group about remote jobs for Italian speaking people. I’ve always wanted a remote job because I hate commuting, and I needed a new job in any case (mine was a temporary position), so I decided to try.

That’s how I started as a 1st tier supporter for WPML. It’s still my main role – I reply to client’s inquiries, point them in the right direction. If the problem cannot be solved quickly, I do deeper debugging and act as a point of contact between the client and the 2nd tier or the developers. 

I learned a lot in the first period as a supporter. You don’t need to be a programmer for this job, but you need to understand how WordPress works. WordPress has become much more accessible over the years, but as a result, many do not know how it works at its core. While I’m not a programmer at all, I started using it when the only way to customize your site was writing your code manually, and I’ve played with it long enough to know the basics of WordPress logic.

Sometimes, people ask me how to start to know WordPress, and my answer is always: create a local server and install it there, check the files, see what happens when you install stuff.

Growing with OntheGoSystems

Some months after I joined, we launched chat support, and I was one of the first people working with it. Chat support is great – you have direct contact with the client, and you manage to help many more people quicker.

I have a keen eye for detail and I’m good at finding things that can be improved, so I think that’s why I became the Chat Leader after a period. What I do in this role, beside suggesting improvements, is to report bugs or any issue we have. Chat is often the first contact our clients have with the support team, so it’s very important everything runs smoothly for them.

My taiko (Japanese drums) group

One of the things I enjoy most about my job is when I can work with other team members – mostly with the Documentation and Compatibility team. Documentation is especially important for us, because clients will often check documentation first, but if it’s not updated or clear enough they will open support tickets. So we work a lot with the Doc team, not only for fixing typos or updating screenshots, but also for suggesting new pages (I’ve contributed a couple myself) or improving existing ones.

To be successful in this role, you need an eye for detail and be able to understand what the clients might need. Everything needs to be crystal clear, also for Doc team because they can’t write a piece if they don’t understand what they’re talking about in the first place.

At TeamLab “Planets” Exhibition in Tokyo, 2019

The best and worst part of working as a supporter is directly dealing with clients. It can be really exciting when you have that aha moment when you find the reason why something is not working, and when you can really help people.

At the same time, not everyone is as nice as you’d like, and it can be really difficult to deal with some people, especially in chat where there is more direct contact. When possible, I get up, take a little walk, drink water and breathe.

A day in the life of working remotely for Laura

Doing a Japanese drum rehersal

I was recently put in charge of one of our supporter teams – they’re all in the Americas while I’m in Europe, so I changed my working hours and I still have to adjust them a bit. It’s going better than I expected though. I have about 3 hours when I get up before starting working, so I use this time to study Japanese, follow some courses (courtesy of our scholarship program), go to the gym and of course errands/house chores if needed.

When my working day is finished, I can really wind down and do something that is not so mentally stimulating, like reading or some logic game. We do a lot of food prep, so if I’m lucky dinner takes less than 10 minutes to be ready. After dinner, we play video games or watch some TV series.

I love everything about working remotely – as I said, I’m introverted, so even if I’m not shy (which many people associate with introversion) I need a lot of “me time” to recharge. When I was working in a real office, I couldn’t talk to anyone for at least 30 minutes after I finished work. Now, I don’t want to be in front of a screen for a while, which means I read more books so I guess it’s not bad at all :D

It was harder during the pandemic though – exactly because I’m always home, it’s important for me to somehow “force” myself to go out, like at the gym or to see friends. Now things are coming back to normal, and the thing I want most is to travel again. I have family and friends outside Rome and I used to visit them regularly (thanks again, remote working!) and I missed them.

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