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By Roberto Rubio

Work Remotely, Stay Local

Working as an Operations Developer for reinteractive (a company half-the-world away from the peaceful refuge that I call home), has allowed me to not only get a competitive income, but to continue to develop as an IT professional. I work with amazing people, enjoy an encouraging company culture and have access to technologies, techniques and a knowledge base populated by professionals, in a way that transcends all commonly established barriers.

One of the problems emerging countries face is a lack of competitive opportunities for young people to stay and work locally after finishing college. In Panama, where I come from, a lot of college/university students who display talent tend to apply for jobs abroad, especially in the U.S. and other first world countries. It’s not that there aren't any good jobs here but, in certain industries like IT, they are very scarce and/or seriously underpaid. This situation becomes more severe the further you go from the capital.

Looking for a better quality of life, my family and I decided to move 198 km away from the capital to a small industrial town called Aguadulce. It’s a peaceful place, with no traffic jams, lots of trees, affordable housing, and people who still smile at you ☺. My first question, though, was: “where am I going to get a competitive IT job in such a place, to support my family and for my own professional development?”; and the only possible answer was: “the internet!”

Since moving out of town, I have been able to get involved in a number of rural volunteering projects involving local Computer Science students and their teachers. It’s amazing how many of them are very talented, hard-working and have great career aspirations for their future!

But, there's a problem… Most, if not all, of their plans include either moving to the capital or going abroad. The lack of local work opportunities forces them to leave their chunk of paradise, making it impossible for the local community to develop.

So… how do we keep local talent local, stimulate the local economy, and stop the migration of people to the country’s capital that has left the surrounding towns stuck in time? Once again, in my opinion and based on personal experience, promoting remote work in these types of small communities is the solution.

Many industries can successfully sustain remote workers, and internet-based operations are top of the list. This doesn’t only work in favour of our local community, but it also helps reduce the overheads of hiring and supporting workers in an office environment – while offering them a better quality of life and better work-life balance.

This is an exciting opportunity for start-ups.

I am excited to be part of it, and I'm looking forward to seeing more and more of these opportunities expand to communities like mine.

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