Remoter’s Life: Matthew Finkel
Meet Matthew Finkel aka Matt, Software Engineer at ZipRecruiter. When I interviewed Matt, he was in Split, Croatia for the third day. Last month he was in Lisbon, Portugal. Read his interview to learn how he works remotely.
Matt, can you tell us more about your job?
I’m a Senior Software Engineer at a company called ZipRecruiter.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m a software engineer in my mid-thirties, and have been at this for about ten years, half of which has been spent at my current job.
I’m from Minneapolis, MN, and most recently have been living in Brooklyn, NY (where my stuff is currently sitting in a storage unit).
My hobbies include motorcycles, traveling, DJing, and powerlifting. I’m currently trying to learn French, and dream of some day working for MSF (Doctors Without Borders).
Can you tell us more about your job?
I’ve been working at ZipRecruiter just over five years. The first half of that time was spent working on one of the product teams, and now I work on the “Core” team, which is our equivalent of SRE. I help work on the underlying infrastructure used by everyone else at the company to build our software.
I get to work with on a team full of talented engineers at a company full of talented engineers, and I’m constantly learning new things (aka trying to keep up). It’s great.
Do you have a dedicated space to work?
I’m traveling with a group under Remote Year, so everywhere we go we have a coworking space that we have access to. I don’t have a dedicated desk necessarily, but we are guaranteed a spot somewhere in the space. Some of the coworking spaces have been amazing.
In Antigua, Guatemala we worked outside, and I regularly sat next to an old airplane.
In Lima, Peru I worked in front of a window that overlooked the whole city.
In Lisbon, Portugal my bedroom was warm and wonderful, so I preferred to work there (think Carrie Bradshaw’s desk).
What does your typical workday look like?
This really depends on where in the world I am.
My job really only asks that I attend meetings, but aside from that my hours are pretty flexible.
When I was in South and Central America, my time zones were the usual US ones, so I worked pretty normal hours. Because of the timezone difference here in Europe, my meetings are all in the evenings. While this can be frustrating at times when I have to miss a dinner with friends or something else fun, I do love having full mornings.
I typically wake up and do some admin work (emails, code review, etc) while I drink my coffee. After that I break for a while and do things I enjoy, like French lessons, gym, hike, cook, etc.
I generally get back to work early to mid afternoon, and work until bedtime.
What tools do you use to stay productive?
I wrote my own time-tracking app and I use that to stay productive.
Our company certainly trusts its employees and has never asked us to track our time, but to me it’s important, as it helps me draw a line between work and personal time when I’m working a variable schedule.
It isn’t so I work 40 hours a week on the nose (sometimes I work more and sometimes less), but it’s nice to know where I landed in a given week. Additionally, having a firm delineation helps me focus on work when it is time to do work, and I find that makes me far more productive overall.
What is your current workspace setup?
I travel with only a carry-on, so keeping a light setup is very important to me.
I have three basic things that travel with me and keep me comfortable around the world:
- Roost laptop stand: Extremely important because of my neck. Looking down at my laptop (sitting on a desk) hurts my neck and gives me a headache after only a short time. Having the laptop stand puts the computer screen at the proper height. It’s small and durable.
- Vortex Core 40% keyboard (w/ bluetooth mouse): Having a keyboard is necessary because of the laptop stand. I love having a mechanical keyboard as well, so using a 40% makes it easy to fit this all into a carry-on.
- Bose QC35 II headphones: These headphones are truly amazing. They are comfortable for hours at a time. They work great for meetings, and sound fantastic when listening to music during focus time. As a bonus, the noise-cancelling is an absolute must-have on an airplane.
What do you like most about working remotely?
I love the flexibility it brings. I’ve lived in several states. I’ve visited family for extended periods. Since I was a little I’ve dreamt about traveling the world, and I now get to do that in real life while still working for a company and a team that I love! I’m very grateful for all of it.
What’s your favourite unplugged activity?
I love riding and working on motorcycles. I have a few of my own and am even (attempting to) build one. Of course, this is all on hold while I travel, but I’ve been getting my fix by renting them in different place I travel to.
I also love hiking, and I hope to go on some sort of amazing hike in every place I visit. Just this year I’ve hiked the Peruvian Andes and two(!) active volcanos.