How Nice to Meet You

Working remotely is, by its nature, very solitary. I could go for a week without leaving my house if I wanted to (but I don’t, I promise). There could be someone doing a job exactly like mine right down the street, and in all likelihood I wouldn’t know a thing about it. So when there was an event in town specifically for telecommuters and mobile professionals last week, it was fun to be in the company of people working right here as attorneys, web geeks, architects, bankers, etc., for companies across New England, the U.S. and even farther afield.

There were about forty people there, and for starters, that’s way more than I would have thought (and I’m told another dozen couldn’t make it!). I was working for Ketchum when I moved to Vermont, and I give them an enormous amount of credit for letting me give it a try. I wasn’t first, but it wasn’t mainstream either. It is nice to see, based on the number of people at this cocktail, that telecommuting is becoming more common in the world. The more people we have credibly working remotely, the better.

I was also very interested in the number of people who picked Middlebury on its own merits. I first came to Middlebury because someone else had gotten a job here, not because I chose it. I couldn’t even have found it on the map, honestly. But I’ve become much more committed to being here over the past ten years, and this is clearly another area where I’m not alone. A lot of people who have good jobs and infinite flexibility have discovered Middlebury. It’s beautiful, it’s safe, it’s affordable. Schools are good. There’s a college that ensures a broader global perspective, a more diverse community, and a steady stream of interesting things to do. So for those of you who picked this place: good decision. I agree with you.

Last note on the night: a student asked what the town was doing to help create opportunities for others who may want stay here and (presumably) work remotely from Midd. There were some good answers to the question, and I appreciate that there are things that the Middlebury community can do to make this a smart, accessible place to work (although I guess nobody can move the airport any closer). At the same time, hoping that someone will create this kind of opportunity for you is, in my opinion, wishful thinking. I’ve yet to meet an organization in Boston, New York, or some other big city that’s hoping to hire a smart, capable employee and hoping that that employee will live in rural Vermont. The truth is that it does take extra effort and a little extra expense to hire a telecommuter. Those of us who want this life have to work hard, be of value, and build a strong case for the fact that it’s worth it.

Anyway, it was a fine night for mobile professionals, and an affirmation that there’s a very interesting and interested community here in Middlebury, solitary though we may be from day to day. Thank you to the Better Middlebury Partnership for putting the event together. I look forward to seeing what comes next!

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