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Developing code in a cafe in the middle of Europe is usually a dream coders think about during their lunch hours; but, LaToya Allen has made it her reality. On a Sunday afternoon while she was visiting family in Portland, we discussed (over the phone) her life as a digital nomad.

Allen’s life began outside of Ann Arbor, Michigan. She started her college career but soon realized college was not for her. “I dropped out of college, I think a total of three times,” stated Allen.

She moved to South Florida, where she dabbled in real estate and the service industry for a bit; but, she soon found herself in Chicago, bartending and figuring out her next step.

“One day, my yoga class was cancelled and I had some extra time. I found some coding tutorials online and I was hooked,” stated Allen.

Allen taught herself coding before there were bootcamps. She was selected for a Resident Software apprenticeship at 8th Light in Chicago. She completed the one-year apprenticeship where she learned how to clean code and javascript.

After her apprenticeship she worked at a fintech company, but knew she wanted to have a more remote job. Yet she didn’t know where to start. During her time working and traveling, she noticed she had so many questions and not enough answers. She created SheNomads podcast last year.

SheNomads podcast has allowed her to chat with other women in tech, remote workers and expats. SheNomads has grown to include wellness retreats (they have one coming up in Mexico City next year) and a job board.

Her current role at Big Cartel has allowed her to work remotely. During her years as a remote worker she has come across some tips for people.

“If you are looking for a remote job, ask a lot of questions in the interview. Is remote working something they have done successful or is it something new,” stated Allen, “if you are currently in an office role, and want to work remotely, ask your manager for Wednesday or Friday to work from home. Do you it for four weeks and your boss will see that you could do more without the commute.”

She has been able to balance her work at Big Cartel and SheNomads by dividing up her days, journaling and using the art of the time box. When she is traveling, she has to adjust her schedule to get work done.

“While in Lisbon, my team wouldn’t be getting in until 3 p.m. So I would do tourist things early, and then get to work before 3 p.m. I would peer program until about 11 p.m. with my team,” stated Allen.

It hasn’t always been a bed of roses. Allen, as a women of color, has had to deal with discrimination in the workplace. “I’ve had people come up to me in the office, who have never talked to me, and say, ‘I can’t tell if you’re smart or not,’” shared Allen.

Allen has thought of leaving tech several time, because of the uphill battles; but she has decided to stay with it, because she loves it. Finding communities and allies has helped.

“When you are looking at the career page of a company and you don’t see any underrepresented folks in their company photos, then it’s a sign” shared Allen.

As we ended our conversation, I congratulated Allen on her accomplishments. She is one woman that is always on the go, but is never too busy to find time for herself.

You can read her Medium article which was shared on Wired Magazine about career pages here.

Hugs and Smiles,
Nicole