A Day in the Life: Allyn Faenza, Sr. Customer Support Specialist at Codecademy

Happy new year, everyone! This month, we’re featuring Allyn, the most senior member of our customer support team at Codecademy.

Allyn’s been championing the Codecademy learner (you!) behind the scenes for over three years now! Aside from delivering exceptional service to many customers daily (think getting bugs fixed, payments sorted, and so much more), she also has a strong presence at the company as someone who educates our product and engineering teams about our learners’ needs and wants and in turn, directly influences the product roadmap.

Without further ado, please meet Allyn :blue_heart:

Tell us a little about yourself.

heya! my name is Allyn. I work in customer support here at Codecademy. I live in Brooklyn with lots of houseplants. I’m from Nashville, TN and have lived in New York for five years.

How did you end up working for Codecademy?

I first found Codecademy when I was working at another startup called Casper. I wanted to learn SQL to better track retail conversion metrics. I rediscovered Codecademy when I completed the GRE and was accepted into graduate school for teaching. I wanted to work for a company that focused on what it means to learn, how to determine and define learner efficacy, and what is needed to build effective curricula. Codecademy was the ideal fit for my interests and career goals.

Did you always want to be a Customer Support Specialist?

I don’t know if I even knew what customer support was when I was younger. growing up, I loved working with people, especially when it came to problem solving and explaining things. becoming some form of a teacher is in my blood. when I entered the workforce after undergrad, I searched for jobs that would allow me to talk with people all day. customer support is that job for me. there are so many forms of support - sales, technical support, client success, etc. I dabbled in sales at one point in my career, but I always came back to working with customers directly.

What are the best aspects of working as a Customer Support Specialist?

at Codecademy, customer support involves emailing with learners, but the feedback we receive is put to work. here customer support is an ongoing company-wide conversation about how to best build products that will change our learners’ lives. the best part of my job is compiling and presenting learner ideas and quotes in meetings with engineers, marketers, curriculum developers, and designers. the team loves hearing feedback when planning new product features.

working in customer support has taught me how to gather information and craft the findings of that information into compelling stories that invite innovation. while I’m not an engineer or designer, I am able to impart impactful data to the right people who can build features that are transformative to our learners’ educational journey.

What are the worst aspects of working as a Customer Support Specialist?

the hardest part about working in customer support is feeling like you cannot make a mistake. if I misword something or get a date wrong, it can cause learners to feel uneasy about trusting our company and confused about how to proceed. I am certainly not perfect, and my job requires me to work quickly to ensure timely responses to a large volume of emails; the confluence of these can lead to a careless mistake in an email.

If you could make one piece of fictional tech reality, what would it be?

I want telekinesis to become reality. I maneuver the world mostly planning on how I can avoid holding or carrying anything because I hate being weighed down.

Do you have any advice for the learners?

doing anything new is about setting yourself up for success and making small improvements to your process as you learn more. for coding, you can set yourself up for infinitely more success if you start by focusing your energy and time into building a community around you. use the Codecademy forums to do this but don’t stop there! leverage sites like Reddit, StackOverflow, and Github by reaching out to the developers you admire. attend in-person or virtual meetups. collaborate on projects with your fellow learners. all of these suggestions are to say - ask for help when you need it, and give help when you can. teaching can often be the best way to learn.

If you could make one brand new course what would it be?

“how to ask good questions”
the course would be one part motivational, one part technical, and one part mediational. for the motivation - how to confidently assess your skills and previous knowledge before asking a question. for the technical - how to compose a question that encompasses all of your previous knowledge, questions, and how you think the question should be answered. for the meditative - how to approach question asking without ego or haste and with the full awareness that answers often provoke more questions.

What does a typical day look like for you?

8AM: wake up! I make my Chemex pour over coffee right away. lounge around a bit by either doing some yoga stretches to warm up or reading a copy of the latest New Yorker. by 9AM I am making my to-do list for the day; this consists of personal and work tasks.

10AM: start work. first thing I do when I get into work is check all company emails and my company calendar to plan for the day’s meetings. customer support is lots of emailing, so I check through the open queue of emails from our learners. I work with 3 other support specialists. together we work through the email queue until it is cleared of all new emails around noon.

12PM: dispute resolution. I dedicate about an hour of my day to handling all payment dispute issues. these are email requests from banks asking for more details regarding specific transactions. I am the only person on my team who handles disputes, so I spend lots of time gathering data and evidence about each transaction report.

1PM: lunch. take a lunch break and go for a walk around my neighborhood. I live next to a park, which makes walking easy!

2PM: jump into meetings and simultaneously check on the email queue. I might have a 1x1 with my manager, customer support team meeting, meeting with finance, meeting with design, or a meeting with the learner experience team. I also might have all of these meetings in one day. during these meetings I am noting any feature changes on the site, explaining any reported bugs, and sharing learner feedback. before and after any meetings, I am checking the email queue and responding to any of my open emails waiting or responding to new emails that have come in during the afternoon.

5PM: wrapping up. I wrap up the day by finishing any unresolved emails and flagging engineers for any outstanding bug reports that I want solved before end of day.

6PM: start homework. I am currently in graduate school for art history with museum education, so I either have class after work or need to do homework. I usually make dinner while I am brainstorming the outline of the paper I need to do or mulling over how I want to tackle my next art assignment for class. today I’m working on both a paper and a community art project. graduate school has been infinitely easier without needing to commute, but I miss gathering with my classmates to talk about art.

9PM end of day. I relax by watching real housewives (nearly every franchise), stretching, and making an herbal tea. I’m usually in bed by 11PM, cuddled up with a book.