From volunteer to remote worker
The last two years of my life were truly amazing. First and foremost, I had a female director that was such a great leader. She never lost her composure, she made decisions in favor of all parties and didn’t have a problem putting her foot down. Secondly, I had such an amazing team. All of coworkers were truly my friends. I never had to worry about work politics and they made me feel comfortable enough to ask for help. Lastly, I worked with students K-8 who were so immersed and interested in all things STEM. Watching them, inspired me to volunteer and give back to my community, so that I can open the doors for the next generation to come.
I volunteered for several organizations in my community and attended many meetups. I met so many different people who worked for different companies that ranged from start-ups to Google. I was very interested to hear the benefits that come with working in tech. Some people worked unorthodox hours like 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. Others worked from co-working spaces. Some worked for companies that provided them with monthly coffee gift cards or paid their entrance to technical conferences. I truly didn’t know this was even possible. I thought you woke up in the morning, commuted to work, worked and commuted back home. The more events I attended, the more my mind wandered and day dreamed about being able to work from home.
So the madness continued. I continued to volunteer, attend local meetups, I started to learn how to code while finishing my Masters in Business Administration. I felt like the only way I could land a remote job was if I knew how to code. Turns out that learning how to code, isn’t as easy as I thought. Then I became a tad more discouraged when a stranger told me that an entry level coder wouldn’t be able to land a remote job. “That’s just unheard of,” she said.
Gaulp, “well… I’m at the end of finishing my MBA so maybe I could become a project manager”, I said to myself. So I started investigating and realized one of the women that I volunteered with was a project manager. I asked her if she had her PMP certificate and she said no. And as the conversation continued, I realized you don’t have to have a cookie cutter resume to land these jobs. Suddenly, my confidence went up a couple notches. At this point, I’ve been volunteering, attending meetups, making connections and building my LinkedIn profile for 7 months. I didn’t submit any job applications, but my resume was ready. I just needed the push.
It wasn’t until my volunteer friend invited me to lunch one day. She asked me what I was looking for next in my career. I was unsure, I honestly didn’t know. But I blurted something among the lines of, I wanted to work from home. I have a toddler and I yearn to be more present in her life. I also hated driving and it was taking an emotional toll on me. She then started to tell me about the company she works for and how I’d be a great asset. It almost felt like I was in the twilight zone because she was more confident in me then I was. By the end of the lunch, she asked me to email her my resume.
Two weeks later, I had my first interview over a video conference. I did the best I knew I could, but I truly still felt like I wasn’t qualified. A week later, I had a second interview with the CEO and COO. I didn’t sleep the night before and I was sweating profusely. I walked into the office and they both had jeans on and rock music was playing over the intercom. We then proceeded to sit on different couches, next to the arcade machines and chatted. The COO went down my resume and asked me non technical questions.
I then got the famous question, “how much would you like to be compensated?” GULP! Every feminist, negotiating article and interview I’ve ever came across told me “what would a man say?” So I aimed high, about $25K more than I was being paid at the time. Secretly, I was happy if I received $1K more.
Three days later, I received the offer for the amount I requested. In two weeks I was going to start a brand new job, I thought. Which meant I was leaving my amazing co workers. I cried, I cried so much that I couldn’t stop until my department director reassured me I wasn’t a douchebag. That I was deserving of moving up in my career and that my department will be perfectly fine. At that moment, I stopped crying and became so thankful to come across a leader like her.
So I started this new job as an Atlassian Support Lead. I only have to go into the office Tuesdays and Thursdays. My schedule is pretty flexible, I usually get in at 9:30 am and leave at 3 pm. I work from home the other days. The days I am in, I indulge in all the free food in the office. The coffee, cold brew, poptarts, Luna bars, lunches and adult beverages I can ever ask for. I have a desk where I can use this huge MAC external screen or I can sit on one of the couches and work. Oh, and the company pays a portion of my phone bill. It’s pretty rad.
Needless to say, you don’t have to know how to code to land a remote job. And if you have an unorthodox background but want an awesome gig, you must network. Network your butt off and show people your work ethic. Your work ethic will speak louder than the words on your resume. People will then advocate on your behalf and you don’t have to worry about your resume getting lost in the recruiters mailbox.