Working in a Remote Team for a Startup

Natalie and Alex Gonzalez flew out from their home in New York to Las Vegas, hoping to relocate their startup here. I was really impressed by these two 20-somethings who had already established themselves as entrepreneurs by their previous founding of two successful startups. Their current product, Chatalog, is a shopping comparison app with chat capabilities. I was hired as front-end developer for a period of time because I completing a coding challenge for Natalie and Alex by creating a responsive front page from a Photoshop comp. Work slowed down after the initial app was created and I moved on, but all in all, it was a wonderful experience working with some really smart, motivated people.

  • Employers: Alex and Natalie Gonzalez
  • Technology: Visual Studio, Sublime Text, Knockout JS, HTML 5, CSS 3, Responsive Design, Basecamp, GitHub

I Really Like Working Remotely

This was not my first time working remotely. I finished my BA and took my entire MISM online. I wrote the MISM thesis for our group of three students (the others lived in California); we managed to crank out over 100 pages in about 6 weeks, and got an A in the class. I was assigned most of the writing duties as my BA was in English and I like to write. I've worked remotely on several freelance web design projects under Indico Web Development--Magnolia Women's Recovery Program (CA), Infant Swimming (AZ), Arizona Title and Escrow (AZ)... I've also helped Dr. Linda Stewart with her PhD Dissertation and helped Jaime Arroyo with his thesis for his MBA. I think that if more companies allowed remote workers, people could live in currenly underemployed areas such as the Midwest, and housing rates in Silicon Valley might go down. There are a lot of plusses to remote work.

My Process for Chatalog

  • Talk on Skype and work in person with business owners to determine his priorities for the website and what it needs to be fully functional.
  • Set up new accounts on GitHub and Basecamp; get acclimated with Visual Studio and working with the backend developer, who was a Microsoft guy, while I consider myself more of an open source gal.
  • Keep communication lines open continuously as small and large changes were made to the design and the functionality of the product on a daily basis.
  • Write clean, efficient code to provide a responsive design after receiving Photoshop mockups from other graphic designers.
  • Work closely with the backend developer on Basecamp; upload daily work to GitHub.

What my Employer Had to Say...

Vickie is a team player, has a strong work ethic and is deeply passionate about delivering quality front-end work.
She also is extremely motivated to learn new technologies and continue to add to her overall skill set.

Natalie Gonzalez,
Co-Founder,
Chatalog

What I Learned From This Project

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Time Management
Personal Development

Working for a startup, the day started at 7AM, as I was on Pacific Standard Time, the Gonzalez's were on Eastern Standard Time, and the backend developer was on Central Time. The work I did took anywhere from 8 to 14 hours a day. However, working on something this interesting and stimulating made the time fly by for me, even on the very long days.

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New Technology
Visual Studio, Knockout JS, GitHub

I had a lot of new (to me) technology thrown at me and was expected to get up to speed in a very short period of time. I also worked directly under a backend developer who was completely used to Microsoft products and coding, when I was absolutely not. It worked out in the long run for me because the next year I took a contract job using Visual Studio to write T-SQL, which I felt more comfortable the next time around.

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Getting Better at Learning New Stuff Fast
Working at a Startup

I realized I enjoyed the rush of working for a startup, but there was a lot of pressure to perform and my skillset was a little short in some areas--especially in Javascript. The time I didn't spend working I spent learning online. I also got much better with Responsive Design--designing for mobile phones, tablets, etc. because a lot of people would be accessing Chatalog with these devices and the site had to look great at any size.

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Marketing and Social Media
eCommerce

Because the site and the app were consumer products strongly tied to social media, I spent a lot of time researching online marketing and the best use cases for social media. I developed an interest in both and continue to study these aspects of business through reading HubSpot, Contently, and other eCommerce development websites.