Melinda Collings is a 35-year-old location independent software developer who has been caravanning around the USA with her husband for the last year.
Melinda had to quit her beloved job at an IT company in order to find a remote position and start traveling.
So how did she end up leaving everything she had in sunny Florida to go around the country in her tiny mobile workspace?
How a Job You Don’t Want Can Lead You to Your Passion
Melinda began her career in the real estate industry. She worked as an escrow officer in Florida for eight years. It was a stable job that provided her financial security, and Melinda was not planning much change.
But when the global financial crisis hit in 2008, it triggered some major changes in Melinda’s life. As the job market became much more competitive, Melinda’s employer could not cope anymore, and they had to let people go. Melinda lost her job.
She suddenly found herself in a situation where she had to find a new job in the middle of the financial crisis – certainly not a walk in the park. After months of job hunting, Melinda was finally hired by a collection agency as a data processor. Melinda says: “It was a crappy job but it also helped me discover my passion.”
She found that the software she was using for data processing was constantly getting errors. She knew that it was either this job or no job at all, so she was determined to get it to work… by learning how to fix the code herself!
Although it was a tough feat, Melinda started reading various coding books, looking up advice and gradually progressed, fixing the software through her own efforts. Doing this, she realized that coding was something she enjoyed a lot more than data processing, and that she was good at it.
So she took the leap of faith! Melinda ditched the boring office job to pursue something bigger: “I knew that if I took a degree in IT, it would help me secure a more promising job in the future, so I enrolled to the local university to take up a diploma in IT and cybersecurity.”
The investment soon paid off – Melinda found a part-time job as a junior developer – all while still going to classes. Her aspirations were finally being realized.
Melinda was comfortably happy with her life: she had secured a good job, she was studying something that she loved, and she was living with her two best friends – her dog and her husband.
However one day, Melinda and her husband rekindled their old interest in travel: “We had always wanted to leave but didn’t know where to go. We knew that we wanted to retire and travel in a motorhome, so we ended up watching Youtube videos about people who were traveling full-time with their caravan. That’s when we realized that we didn’t even need to retire to travel around the country.”
They had a new plan…
How to Find a Company That Allows You to Have The Lifestyle You Want
After being inspired by fellow caravaners on Youtube, Melinda and her husband decided to start their own caravan life within 1.5 years. In order to do that, she needed to turn her work remote. As she had already been working from home for some three days a week, she thought she could easily convince her superiors to change her contract to a results-based remote work opportunity.
She turned out wrong. Her employer vehemently disliked the proposition: “My idea to become a nomad wasn’t in the cards with that company – the only solution was left me was to start searching for companies that had a remote culture.”
Melinda spent the next three months applying to numerous jobs across the country. Out of twenty applications, she got called to three interviews. One of them was the job she had been rooting for all along – and, after a long interview process, she got it! Melinda became a remote SQL database developer.
According to Melinda, researching companies helped to narrow her focus in securing a job that she really wanted. She says: “I wanted to work for a company where I aligned with firm’s values and knew that I would be valued as an employee and not just a number. While I didn’t put out a lot of resumes, that gave me an opportunity to really focus my effort on trying to reach the companies that I wanted to work for.”
Bonus: Check out our online community to chat, network and learn from over 30 digital nomads from around the world.
It Takes Discipline to Become a Remote Worker. A Lot of Discipline.
It has been a year since Melinda and her husband sold off everything they had and left Florida. So far they have been going North, traveling all the way up to Maine. Nowadays Melinda works at her own desk set up in the caravan and uses her portable standing desk when she feels like taking her work outside – where she finds most productive.
Melinda says that it has been liberating to be able to change her location anytime she wants, but the challenge is the lack of human interaction at work. Melinda tries to overcome this by regularly talking with her coworkers online through video calls.
But for this software developer, weekdays are strictly for business, as she still works the 8-to-5. Some days go even longer, especially when there are tight deadlines. Despite this, keeping a strict schedule helps to keep her focused and committed to work. She reports that some apps can help too: one way Melinda tackles distractions is by using Forest, which plants and grows a virtual tree for as long as she keeps away from her phone.
At the end of the day, being disciplined allows Melinda to enjoy her newfound freedom a lot more too. And so she has done: Melinda and her husband try to spend their weekends doing things that they love every time in a different place they actually chose. A good hike could be just a doorstep away for the nomadic couple!
Interested in Following Melinda’s Footsteps?
Think you want the same kind of liberation? Melinda feels that you need to have these strong traits to prove you can be a remote worker: “You have to be dedicated and self-disciplined. In my travels, I have met many remote workers who aren’t disciplined and they end up killing themselves trying to meet deadlines because they were busy exploring when they should have been working! I am really strict on my own freedom and keeping my schedule, but it helps me stay disciplined.”
If you want to do something similar to Melinda, you also have to learn to code. Check out these online courses to learn how to become a successful remote software developer, just like Melinda:
- The Complete SQL Bootcamp;
- The Ultimate MySQL Bootcamp;
- The Complete Oracle SQL Certification Course.
Melinda also recommends that you read the book called The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck.
When it comes to hunting for remote work opportunities, Melinda suggested these websites: StackOverflow, RemoteOK, GORemote, Working Nomads, Remote.co, We Work Remotely, Remotive, and Robert Half Technology. She also suggests you check out Glassdoor for company reviews before going ahead with your choice.