#Untethered

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Making Remote Work Work For Me

As a young professional, I’ve found that my innate urge to travel and explore new places conflicts with my self-imposed obligation to stay in a competitive job and advance my career. I, like most people on this planet, am a creature of habit. I like structure, consistency and knowing what’s around the corner.

Most of my work experience lies at a traditional corporate job. I spent a great deal of time adjusting to the ebbs and flows of this environment – every day reporting to the same place, at the same time, with the same roadblocks. Any discontent felt on a day-to-day basis I’d cope with because it was “the responsible thing to do”. I’d convinced myself that reliability and professional success were directly tied to remaining at a job like this and so I stuck it out.

Amidst this growing vexation, I flirted with the idea of remote work. I wasn’t sure I could take the plunge; it sounded so hypothetical and unattainable. That was until I heard about Remote Year – a company whose mission is to bring a community of business professionals together to work, travel and explore several cities around the world. I had so many questions: Does enough remote opportunity exist that there is market for this? Could I legitimately find a job working from anywhere? And where even were these jobs? Who were these people, both employers and employees? It was at this moment when my research began and my path shifted.

After a significant amount of thought, armed with no more than four years of professional experience and, admittedly, more of a hunch than a solid foundation of knowledge, I quit my cozy little 9-5.

I’d heard that web development was an area with a lot of flexibility and after a serendipitous conversation with a trusted peer and friend, I applied to Epicodus – a code school for aspiring programmers – and was accepted. Fast forward four months and 40 hours a week of learning PHP, Javascript and Drupal, I was then placed at an internship at Workfrom. This was the ideal company to gain remote experience with, as their mission is to connect digital nomads to productive work spaces locally and all of their employees are remote.

During my internship I learned so much about the way that I work and the possibilities for my future as a digital nomad. As a remote worker:

  • You learn how to best plan your day, capitalizing on wonderful communication tools like Slack, Github, Trello, and Google Hangouts.
  • You decide how, when and where you are the most productive.
  • You gain a natural empowerment that is tied to your work.
  • You are forced to take ownership of what you do, and that feels good.
  • You truly can work from anywhere when you’re equipped with a laptop and WiFi (and for me: headphones, Spotify, and a cup of coffee).

Perhaps the most important discovery for me? Working remotely doesn’t eliminate a sense of stability and structure; it simply amplifies flexibility and creativity. I was a contributing team member, connected with the team, confident in my day-to-day projects, and able to work whenever and wherever I pleased.

Since then I’ve found a smattering of opportunity from contract work to more long-term endeavors. I am more energized and excited about my career than ever before. If you even have a smidgen of interest, go for it! I’ve started my path to finding a job that lets me have it all, and you should too.


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