I thought it would be temporary. It was a freelance job as a web developer, helping a former co-worker build a social network for musicians. That first freelance opportunity turned into another and another. I enjoyed experiencing and learning from the diversity of companies, projects, and people that I worked with. Before I knew it, “temporary” turned into six years.
I worked with companies of all kinds and sizes — startups to multinational corporations. The projects themselves were even more varied.
Working as a freelance web developer in New York brought many unique opportunities — a real-time dashboard for translating finance news to international investors, a web app for bartering personal items, a gamified dating app, a search engine to help people find fertility doctors, and visualization tools for a cancer detection technology. The list goes on. It was fitting that there I was in the middle of the most diverse city in the world, experiencing some of the most diverse projects imaginable.
One thing I am grateful for is that freelancing allowed me to discover what really matters to me, both personally and professionally.
Eventually, I decided to leave the city. I had long thought of moving out west, and in 2015, I decided it was finally time. I moved from my apartment overlooking The Ed Sullivan Theater in Manhattan to a quiet home overlooking the mountains in Southern California. And I decided it was time for a career change too. I knew what I enjoyed working on and was ready to do it as part of a committed team.
As it turned out, my requirements for my next career move were simple — but not necessarily common or easy to find.
I wanted to join a company whose product and engineering ethos resonated with me. I wanted to join a company whose values fit with my own outlook on openness, diversity, and putting people first. And I wanted to be able to work remotely as I had in the past.
I found Aha! while searching a job board for remote jobs. Needless to say, the company checked all the boxes on my requirements list. But, what stood out?
The vision caught me first. Aha! builds software that enables companies and their product managers to build better products.
Having worked closely with product managers in the past, I see product management as a critical function. Even as a proud engineer, I recognize that when performed well, product management is often a more impactful role than my own. I also knew that working at Aha! would mean I would work with great product managers. That was extremely compelling to me.
The product itself made an immediate impression as well. Seeing all the things that the Aha! application can do — from setting strategy to building releases — practically sold me right away. The way the product was laid out and the functionality offered made it clear that Aha! had an effective team with the ability to get things done.
Next, I investigated the culture. All the vision in the world would not convince me to work in a place where people were not treated well. Culture can be a challenge for some remote companies. But I believe having the right kind of team mentality is too important to disregard.
So I read Glassdoor reviews and blog posts about why people had chosen to join the company. I liked what I read, but I knew I needed to talk with someone to know for sure. Engineering interviews can sometimes be an unpleasant experience. You never know if it is going to be like taking a final exam or a “good cop, bad cop” interrogation.
It was not until speaking live with Aha! leaders such as Alex Bartlow that any last doubts were squashed. The conversations were interesting and actually fun. We spoke about the company’s architectural approaches and I ended up learning a little something about database design that I had not known before.
I was sold. I really wanted the job. Thankfully, I got it. Since joining, the company has exceeded my expectations. The culture here is more open than I have ever witnessed and the team comprises the deepest collection of motivated, sincere, and talented co-workers I have ever known. It is humbling and exciting to work with this group each day.
With an application as comprehensive as Aha! is, there is really no end to the interesting challenges I can work on in the future.
In terms of work, I am relieved that I did not have to give up on my love of variety. Since joining the Aha! team, I have worked on features and enhancements ranging from the onboarding experience, calendar report, and even our recent front-end update.
I found the perfect job fit and I am excited for what lies ahead.
That is why I joined Aha! — and why you should too.