Jul 20

How One of Our Flexi-Workers Embraced Remote Work as a Software Engineer

Getting Hired Online

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Recently, I decided to dip my toe into the freelance pool and create an online profile somewhere. The local market looked like a good place to start and Nomad Now had been in the back of my mind for quite a while. In fact, their marketing campaign could have even contributed to my initial momentum.

Words like nomad, flexible, remote, these are all appealing to someone like me. And, to most devs as well, I am sure. So, I signed up.

It wasn't too long after I signed up that I received an email inquiry from digital education company, 2U, Inc. They were looking for someone full time for a 3 month contract. My instant reaction was to blow off the email. If you are a dev with a good LinkedIn profile you are probably also getting job specs daily from various recruiters.

I was already working a full time job at this point. It is a 100% remote job and I can work my own hours. I'd been working remote for over a year already and had really gotten into it. I could probably spare a few hours a day though, or even a few on weekends.

These were the thoughts that started flying around my head after reading this email. It didn't take long, less than an hour and I replied very bluntly, "Thanks for getting in touch, I’m interested to hear more. I am only available for half days at the moment though.". Next thing I know, I am in an interview at their premises.

I went in with no expectations, I had no intention of leaving my current position and was by no means "on the market". I met with Pieter Malan, senior director of software engineering.

He explained to me how they had just started development of a new project for GetSmarter, the online short course product owned by 2U, and were in need of some extra resources. They had a tight deadline and were willing to experiment. I was already looking to try something and who better to experiment with than a cutting edge company like 2U.

The term agile is thrown around a lot these days, even beyond the realms of programming. The term comes up so much that I feel like it has lost it’s meaning. But other words like SCRUM, Kanban, CI, TDD were the ones that caught my attention in the interview.

If these processes are followed, even loosely, it makes dropping in and out of teams almost seamless. When I started with my first daily stand up (DSU) I immediately saw the solid track that was laid. The process was very clear, even if the detail was a bit fuzzy. It was easy to drop in and start delivering value from the get go.

These processes didn't stay the same, they adapted as the team changed and grew in size, a prime characteristic of agile. A lot of project managers know that throwing resources at a problem isn't always the best solution. If the resources are not working in unison, then you are wasting your time.

More contractors were hired after me and the team grew to around 20 people, all attending DSU every day, which never exceeded 10 minutes (okay, maybe once). The process held up. A few basic fundamentals were followed and strongly upheld by a powerful project manager, and I feel that is the key to their solid process.

It's not all smooth sailing, it requires input from each team member and is by no means perfect. People are going to make mistakes, but if your process is good enough it should allow those mistakes and offer quick solutions.

Change is inevitable and your process should be the breeding ground for change, process shouldn't only allow change, but rather encourage it. We are living in tumultuous times and we have all been forced to adapt recently.

The world is different now, and we don't know for how long. I would like to see more companies being experimental like 2U and Nomad Now. I would also like to see more experienced developers taking on shorter term contracts and spreading their knowledge, instead of getting stuck in the same routine day in, day out.

Remote work is very popular now, contract work is far more common these days but there is still a lot of unexplored territory and untapped potential.

Have a go – register with Nomad Now and see where they take you.

About the author 

Jono Booth

Jono Booth is a freelance coder living in Cape Town, with over 12 years of development experience under his belt. His career had a humble start back in 2004 working on static html sites. Since then he has explored various forms of programming and worked on some of the biggest brands in the country. Now he specialises in Ruby and is passionate about clean code and TDD. Outside of coding he is a fitness fanatic, avid trail runner and multi-instrumentalist.

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