Working remotely helped me join a thriving startup in another country
August 5, 2020
Karl Jones is team lead for technical support at Shogun. He graduated from Dublin Institute of Technology with a degree in computer science. Born and raised in Ireland, Karl’s also lived in the United States and now resides in Scotland. When he’s not busy with Shogun, you can find him developing Android apps and enjoying the flexibility of remote work to visit his family back home.
In this Q&A interview, Karl discusses his unexpected start in technical support, his four tips for working remotely and his experience as one of the company’s early hires.
Karl joined the team in August 2018 as one of Shogun’s first 15 employees.
Q: You moved around a bit over the last four years. What brought you to the U.S. after living in Ireland your whole life?
A: After graduating from college, I got the chance to move to Virginia with a few friends. I thought, Why not?
After landing in Virginia, I started my first technical support position with a subcontractor of Nikon providing camera support. Then, I had a brief stint as a server response engineer with HPE on the Dutch team.
It was such a fun adventure and really helped me discover myself. The move to the United States was a big leap, and I was prepared to live there for good. But, ultimately, things didn't work out.
Q: Sounds like working in technical support was a happy accident. How did you end up in the field?
A: I fell into technical support after being unable to secure a job in software development. But, this worked out well and I enjoyed it.
The thing I like the most about support, in general, is the challenges that get thrown at you — troubleshooting and digging deeper into an issue until you find the root cause that gives you the ability to help the customer. Some users really find unique edge cases that can really make the team think outside the box.
Q: How did you find your job at Shogun?
A: I got the opportunity to move to Scotland with my partner at the time and immediately fell in love with it for a few reasons — partly because it’s much cheaper than Dublin! Shortly after moving here, someone sent me the link to apply for a technical support position with Shogun.
After a late-night interview with our CEO Finbarr Taylor (he’s based in California), I was offered the position. It was quite a fast process and easy process.
At the time, our co-founders were working hard on support as well as getting Shogun off the ground. I ended up joining to fill the gap between our support in Colorado and Melbourne — Scotland was in the perfect time zone! — as support team member No. 3. And the rest is history.
Q: What’s it like working for a completely remote, global company?
A: It’s been amazing. This is the first global company I’ve worked for in my career.
When people ask me what it’s like working at Shogun, I always tell them how well everyone gets along. When we went to Toronto for an offsite last year, it felt like walking into a group of friends — even though most people were meeting for the first time!
Shogun has organically grown a team of people who really believe in the same values, which makes it a fantastic place to work, both from a personal and professional viewpoint.
Q: What’s a day in your life at Shogun?
A: Gone are the days where I felt like just a number in a call center where I was easily replaceable — Shogun really makes me feel like I am making a difference on a day-to-day basis.
Helping our engineering team troubleshoot issues or
Going over a tough case with a team member.
I always feel like I’m doing important work. And that feeling is hard to get on a support team.
Q: You’ve been working remotely for two years now. What are your tips for those new to it?
A: Working from home can definitely be distracting sometimes. You need to be able to concentrate when you need to, which is especially important when it comes to technical support; you have to ensure your customers are taken care of and that you’re meeting team goals.
While working remotely is a bit of a double-edged sword, a routine helps. Here are my main tips:
Wake up at a reasonable time.
Have breakfast before work rather than sitting at your desk.
Make sure that you dress as if you were going into the office.
If you can afford to do so, live somewhere with a dedicated office space.
I’ve always tried to rent somewhere with a spare room that I can use for an office so I can close the door on work when the day is done. This helps with overworking!
For example, some people need to be around people and get their energy that way, but some people are the opposite. Even if you’re a person who needs to be around people all the time, that’s easily solvable by joining a coworking space.
Q: As one of the more senior members of the team, what’s it been like to see the company grow so much in a short amount of time?
A: It’s been so exciting to be part of Shogun’s growth. Every time I tell people about Shogun it seems like I am trying to promote the company and get them to apply for jobs with us — it’s tough to get them to believe that these are my genuine feelings!
From joining when the team was only several people strong to a company that now has just under 70 employees, it’s been great to witness all the progress. All the while, growing the culture we’ve created and refining it to a point where everyone feels part of something special.
Are you interested in joining our fully remote and globally distributed team? View the open positions at Shogun and apply today!
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