Working as a remote Web Developer intern is not a phrase you commonly hear. When asked where I work and what I do there, I often have to give people a lengthy explanation of how I work from home, writing in seemingly foreign languages, for some company they’ve most likely never heard of (because we currently boast a team of a mere three people). Despite the topic of my employment having a 50/50 chance of being a conversation ender right then and there, I know that the past six months as a remote intern has gotten me to where I want to be at this point in my career.
Intern positions are few in number on the development side of web development, it seems, compared to the design side. When I graduated university in May, most of my friends were getting full time development positions at one of the “Big Three” companies in the city we went to school in. Through the years of my schooling I came to realize that the culture and projects worked on at the Big Three were nothing I wanted to pursue. I had been working for WebMovement as a freelance developer for a month or so before Adam came to me with an offer for a full-time remote internship opportunity upon my graduation.
Having been a technology tutor on campus for the past three years, I had become accustomed to working solo (myself, the tutor, and my learner) and was looking forward to getting out, working at my first “real job” and actually having coworkers for the first time in years. This, though, was the biggest challenge for me to overcome working for a remote web agency. I’m a very sociable person, so not being able to grow and learn and hang out with people who share the same passions I do is one of the things I miss most, working in a remote position.
WebMovement being a start-up company does help balance this out, though. Working for a startup is like another friend circle where we’re all working together towards a common goal, growing together as the company itself grows. Working in such a small team without a central location is only slightly more difficult to grow as a developer. When working in a close-knit, in-person team, you bounce ideas, skills and knowledge off each other. A few of my friends working at larger companies like the “Big Three” have weekly code reviews by their peers so they can grow as a developer and as a team, a helpful practice that I think is easy enough to implement in any company regardless of location.
The only other small challenge I’ve noticed working remotely is that it seems I can never quite get away from the work. This is partially due to the recent “always-on” culture phenomenon. Often times I’ll receive work-related messages after hours when I’m away from the “office” (read: my desk in my apartment). Whereas most people would deal with it when they got to their physical office the next morning, I feel compelled to answer them as soon as possible.
Working remotely, you really have to work for yourself. There is no one to hold your hand and constantly tell you what to do or stop slacking off. A remote position isn’t necessarily fitting for people who work just to get the work done and get paid. I enjoy the reward of seeing websites I create come to life. I work for me, knowing that I’ll feel bad if I don’t get my work done. Partially due to working for a start-up, I enjoy working each day not feeling like a hired work monkey, but an actual person with skills and ideas. Despite it being an intern position, it’s never really quite felt like it. Even though we rarely have met face to face, the guys at WebMovement have never made me feel under-appreciated.
Throughout the past six months I’ve discovered, in working remotely, the perks easily outnumber the negative. I’m able to work at my own pace in an environment I feel comfortable in, whether it’s my own apartment, Starbucks, or occasional work trips to sunny San Diego. It’s also a wonderful feeling waking up each morning hearing my preset timed coffee brewing itself and knowing I don’t have to drive in three feet of Wisconsin snow to get to and from work each day.