My Doubler Story
How do I Double?
- Horn, Director of Ops at Calliope Brass
- Premier Customer Champion at Zapier
- Freelance Horn
- Host of the most fabulous of podcasts, Doublers
My Doubler Story
After finishing my master’s degree in 2012, I won the fourth horn of Sarajevska Filharmonija in Sarajevo, Bosnia. I found myself in a foreign country with a camera and free time – so the obvious thing to do was to start a blog.
In the process of creating Horn in Real Life, I tried a few different blogging platforms (remember Blogger?) before landing on WordPress. I realized I could make a blog and a website at the same time on one cheap hosting platform with WordPress – Genius!
While learning to use WordPress, I absorbed a lot of information about the tech industry and saw the interesting things people were doing to make money online. This world of remote life, working wherever you have a laptop, earning money on a freelance schedule thing seemed like a great solution for the problem of not making enough money as a musician.
I thought I might stick around in Bosnia for a few years, and freelancing as a website designer could be a lucrative side project to fund more travel and pay my student loans. (My parents had generously helped me with the payments I couldn’t make on a Bosnian salary that year.) My salary was great for living in Sarajevo, but it didn’t translate.
Life intervened, however, and I moved to New York. Shortly after arriving, my partner and I were offered work in South Florida, and the appeal of a flexible remote job grew. I applied for a full-time support role at Automattic, the parent company of WordPress, and was offered a “trial” to work the job for several hours per week and see if it was a good fit.
I didn’t do well. It was hard to figure out what was going on as someone with no experience, everything was chat/text based so I struggled with communicating, and I didn’t do a good job setting boundaries. On top of all this, we were in an Airbnb in South Florida playing with the opera and symphony. After several weeks, my trial job ended.
After I stopped beating myself up for failing, I decided to start my own business instead. I launched FancyDog Web Design, building websites for musician clients on WordPress. I was even featured in the Miami Herald! Making websites for musicians was a lot of fun, but the admin of running a small business was challenging to stay on top of while freelancing as a musician.
In the years following, I was a real estate agent, an office temp, a teacher in several elite private schools, a studio teacher, a church administrator, and a research assistant for Uber, among other things. As a real estate agent, I had my first experience with a branding problem – people assumed I had stopped playing. I became a real estate agent who played horn instead of a horn player who did real estate. As soon as I was working for someone else, there was an assumption that I was no longer a serious musician.
I learned to take jobs that didn’t require networking at the same level of intensity that real estate does. I also realized I didn’t want to be hustling in two industries – it was hard enough to be hustling in one.
I grew tired of the “side hustle” approach to secondary income and realized I wanted to settle down with a nice career. For me, it was kind of like dating: playing the field was fun for a while (and some people enjoy it long term!) but I wanted a “husband” job – A nice, stable place I could go every day, with benefits I didn’t have to qualify for every 6 months, a retirement plan that would exist in 2050 (looking at you, AFM pension), and a career progression path.
I knew I wanted a remote job so I could travel anywhere to play and enjoy the scheduling flexibility that many tech companies value for their staff. I needed to put secondary income on auto-pilot so I could focus on shaping my music career the way I wanted it to be, instead of taking every gig.
Common threads of my experiences lead me to a fantastic job in support at Zapier. Calliope was trying our fourth project management system, and Zapier had both a solution and a job listing that matched what I was looking for.
Having been my own office administrator in my freelance career, the executive director/administrator of my brass quintet, and an office temp in several organizations, I was very familiar with the world of web apps and how crucial automation between apps. I could speak to a number of use cases across various industries, since I had been in so many… That experience paired with my self-taught web design and basic coding knowledge helped me get in the door.
Since I joined Zapier in April 2019, I’ve been able to thrive in a job that’s interesting while working with my quintet and continuing to freelance – plus I sound better! ?
If you are interested in a remote customer support role in the tech industry, here are a few job boards I suggest watching: