Last Word: An Unlikely Digital Nomad
Alumna lost her desk and found work/life balance while sitting atop the globe
By Casey Carr-Jones '09
February 2016: I’d just dug my car out of another three feet of snow and was deep into researching the warmest places to use up my annual 10 vacation days when I saw it — an advertisement for Remote Year.
"Travel the world with a community of digital nomads for one year! Twelve cities, twelve months, 75 professionals!"
Immediately I was intrigued. Travel the world and work? Was that possible?
My first reaction was, "It’ll never happen." I thought people who shared #wanderlust posts on social media had to take a sabbatical or quit their jobs to travel long term. I didn’t want to step away from work, but I wanted to see the world.
Being a stubborn, scrappy29-year-old from New Jersey, I couldn’t take no for an answer and started asking myself, "Why can’t I do both?" This might seem odd for someone who’d spent her post-Bucknell career in human resources, an industry historically known to provide face-to-face, in-house support. I started researching and spotted a trend toward more jobs offering the ability to be flexible and remote. I found consulting opportunities focused on policies, compliance and leadership coaching, and realized that I might pull this off.
Three months later, I stopped dreaming of that dual lifestyle and turned it into a reality. Just a year from that snowy day, I’d lived on four continents, ridden a camel in Morocco, spent Halloween in Transylvania, taken an overnight bus to Angkor Wat, shared a coconut with a Vietnamese local, snagged a $40 flight to Greece and even connected with fellow Bucknellian Sofija Nikolic '09 in Serbia. Oh, did I mention I did this while maintaining my career?
In fact, just getting out from my "normal" life was enough to give me the space and energy to start my own business, in addition to consulting. I now run Jump Start Resumé, offering clients the inside scoop on what recruiters look for in a resumé and candidate. By spending time on Remote Year — living and working with an incredible cohort, meeting fascinating locals and enjoying an authentic living experience in each city — I designed a career around the kind of life I wanted to lead, rather than fitting my life around work.
This year has taught me many things about life. I’ve learned that good work doesn’t necessarily come from sitting in a cubicle, that authentic experiences are more valuable than possessions and that becoming a member of the global community will make you a better world citizen.
I write this now, sitting in a co-working space in Lima, Peru, shared by an Uber office and countless startups. I’ve already finished my daily Spanish class. I’ve held calls with new clients, and I’m now on my way to grab some ceviche and join friends at a local salsa night. If I were still the Casey from a year ago, my jaw would drop in shock.
Casey Carr-Jones, an English and psychology major at Bucknell, will conclude her Remote Year in late May and plans to travel more in South America before returning to the United States. For more information about Remote Year, visit remoteyear.com. For more on Carr-Jones’ personal journey, go to instagram.com/apackedsuitcase_y and apackedsuitcasey.com.