Hey gang! Three years ago I accepted a job with OpenVPN – the author of the original open-source Virtual Private Network (OpenVPN) protocol and leading provider of multi-platform VPN applications. I wanted to take a quick moment to share why transitioning over to this company was one of the best decisions of my life – and why this company means so much to me.
But to really understand why I am such a cheerleader for OpenVPN, you need some context: I am a military spouse.
Military spouses deal with unemployment rates that far exceed the Great Depression. A very, very small minority of military spouses are employed – and out of those an even smaller minority are employed full time, or working in positions that utilize their education or work experience. Even if a spouse finds a solid job, chances are they will have to give it up within a matter of months to move. For the spouses fortunate enough to have a job they can move with, it would be utter insanity to even consider giving up said job – for any reason. Military dependents know better than to give up a sure thing for something unknown.
Which places me in the category of “utterly insane.”
If you were to go back in time to autumn of 2018, you would find me in a full-time job with benefits – and I could keep working when I moved. Now, it wasn’t my dream job. It was a bit like a glorified call center. My shifts started at 5AM, and I rarely got to step away from my desk. I wasn’t using my education or talents, and I was burned out and bummed. But it was a job. I was one of the lucky ones.
So, when I was offered a position at OpenVPN, I felt more than a little crazy for even considering it. Why give up a perfectly okay job for something unknown, that frankly sounded too good to be true?: Work from wherever? Unlimited PTO? Amazing team? Supportive boss? Enjoy my job?
I found myself at a crossroads between letting complacency and fear win, or taking the leap and hoping for something better. I knew switching to OpenVPN would either pay off big time…or that it would totally backfire on me. But I was desperate for a positive work experience and ended up taking the risk. And I am so glad I did.
OpenVPN is an amazing company, and I want to explain some of the key things that make this such a great place for me to work:
Work From Wherever
To a lot of people, “work from wherever” means setting up shop on a beach with a fruity drink in hand. While that’s definitely a glorious usage of the benefit, and one I embrace fully, it also means a bit more to me. As a military spouse, “work from wherever” means that when the army moves us across the country, I still get to keep my job. No long bouts of unemployment, no explaining the gaps on my resume, no weeks and months of uncertainty and stress. It also means that if I am feeling homesick, I can go stay with my family and visit my friends without having to jump through hoops behind the scenes. Working from wherever means that I don’t have to choose between my career, my family, or my sanity. It means that as long as I get my work done, and well, it doesn’t matter where I am working from. And isn’t that how it should be anyway?
Unlimited Paid Time Off
When I worked for companies with limited PTO, I was too scared to actually use it – because “what if”? What if I use my PTO, then I get really sick and need to go to the hospital? What if there is a death in the family? What if my husband has to deploy at the last minute, and I don’t have any time left to spend with him? I was constantly torn between needing some time off to recharge, and wanting to hoard my PTO for unexpected life situations. But here at OpenVPN, we are offered unlimited PTO. No one here abuses it, no one is taking month-long vacations on the company dime. But we are all able to utilize it in a way that means we don’t have to sacrifice our health, family, or sanity. In my crazy military life, it means that if my husband is going to Iraq, I can take time off to spend quality time with him before he goes – even if I just went on vacation a couple months prior. OpenVPN trusts us to use the time when we need it, and not abuse it. Company leadership sees us as adults, capable of managing our own lives and getting our work done – novel concept, right?
I really wish everybody had coworkers like mine – I think it would make the world a better place. My coworkers are the kinds of people you would still want to talk to every single day, even if you didn’t work together anymore. They are kind, helpful, supportive, and hardworking people. And not in some superficial, disingenuous way. They are just really fabulous people. Everybody shares the credit for a job well done, and nobody tries to cast blame when things don’t go according to plan. Nobody tries to hoard knowledge to look superior, they all share what they know. They all have a lot of empathy, and there is a strong sense of community on the team. And as someone who moves more often than an escaped convict on the run, having a sense of community has been amazing for me! It helps me feel a little bit less alone every time I move to a new place. And not only that – they have genuinely become some of my closest friends. We talk all day, long after we have logged out of work. We go on vacations together. I know their kids, and they know my husband. We help each other. We love each other. It’s pretty dang cool.
A boss can make or break the entire work experience – and a lot of military spouses have to settle for terrible bosses due to lack of options. But not me! Thankfully I work for a really genuine, supportive boss who leads by example. You know how a lot of leaders just kick back at their desks and watch the “little people” doing all the work? That’s the exact opposite of my boss here at OpenVPN. She is ridiculously hardworking and leads by example every step of the way. She is also very supportive. If anyone on the team wants to learn something, she provides a learning opportunity. If anyone wants to test a new idea, she gives the thumbs up. If anyone has an idea, a suggestion, feedback, or even constructive criticism, she listens and absorbs – and in a lot of cases implements. She genuinely wants the best for us, and wants us to excel and climb the ranks and do exactly what we want to be doing. I’m living proof of that. She provided me with every opportunity possible to do exactly what I wanted, and now I am managing the Human Resources department. And it is all thanks to her. Nineveh sets the tone for the whole team, and is the reason why working at OpenVPN is so great!
I Enjoy My Job!
This is obviously one of the most major things when it comes to a job – enjoyment. For so long I had the typical military spouse mindset of, “it doesn’t matter if I am happy or not, a job is a job.” And until I switched to OpenVPN, I didn’t realize what I was missing out on! When you enjoy what you are doing, everything changes. Work doesn’t feel like work, it feels like a fulfilling part of life. This career with OpenVPN has provided me with a stable source of joy in my life, regardless of what the army sends our way. Whether I am in the Louisiana bayou or the mountains of New Mexico, whether I am surrounded by friends or haven’t met anyone yet, whether my sweet husband is with me or serving overseas – this job gives me a very happy reason to get out of bed each morning!
Congratulations – you made it to the end of my mini-novel! For those that just skipped down here, let me provide you with a tl;dr…I enjoy my work, I love the people, and I believe in our mission. OpenVPN is truly one in a million, and I am so glad I took a leap of faith and started working here. Here’s to three years and to many, many more!