Sophie Shepherd

Leaving Happy Cog

my happy cog friends

I first heard of Happy Cog about 6 years ago, when I decided I wanted to be a web designer and googled “Best Web Design Companies” to find a place to work. Being based in Philly (I lived in NYC at the time) I knew there was no chance for me. That, and the fact that I had precisely zero experience. So I read Zeldman’s book, started learning Photoshop and code, and picked up some freelance work on the side.

Three years later, I moved to Austin and decided to do the freelance web thing full time. Out of the blue, Greg Storey emailed me asking if I was available to help out. This was my reply:

Hi Greg

Wow, what an honor. I have followed Happy Cog's work for the last few years since venturing into the world of web design and have learned much of what I know from either A List Apart or Jeffrey Zeldman's books. I would love to work with such a talented and smart group of people - be it freelance or full time.

I started freelancing, loved it, and within about 6 months was given the opportunity to join Happy Cog full time. Unlike every job I had had before this one (or any social interaction tbh), there was no awkwardness when I started. I had found “my people”—smart, fun, and extremely professional while still being able to make fart jokes in client meetings. A rare breed.

My experience at Happy Cog can be summed up by the people I have met and learned from. I have been surrounded by patient developers who will walk me through hours of command line prompts. I’ve had a number of design mentors—Kevin Sharon, who was the one who hired me and never let me deliver anything less than my best work. Chris Cashdollar, who taught me how to not babble through design presentations. Michael Johnson, who brevity. And Greg Storey, who worked selflessly to provide a great working environment and taught me about how to behave at a steakhouse. I’ve made best friends whom I know I’ll know forever.

But, all things must end and I am equal parts sad and happy to announce that today is my last day at Happy Cog. In the new year, I will begin as a senior designer at Ushahidi. I’m excited about this for a lot of reasons:

  • I’ll be working with amazing people on products that help and empower people. The work Ushahidi does changes elections, helps people their find loved ones in a crisis, and connects people to the internet when electricity is unreliable. It’s big stuff, and I’m eager to be a part of it.

  • After doing only client work for my entire working life, I will have an opportunity to work on products. It’s a new experience for me and I’m looking forward to being able to go back and finetune the mistakes I’ll inevitably make.

  • I will be working remotely, giving me the opportunity to travel and to spend more time in new places. My boyfriend’s job allows him to do the same, putting us one step closer to a lifelong goal of traveling together while doing work that we love.

Not sure how to wrap this up other than thanks for the amazing three years, HC coworkers near and far!