Learning to Work from Anywhere

Troy Ochsenbein moved his family back to Montpelier a year ago and vows to stay in Montpelier, where they can enjoy the lifestyle they want. "I get to spend time with my family, I can pick my children up after school each day, and I attend all their activities."

After graduating from Bear Lake High School, Troy got a job in the gold mine at Elko, Nevada. He worked there for four years as a lab technician. Troy had always enjoyed working with computers and spent many hours learning about them and reading computer manuals at home. Then, it happened. Someone in the information technology lab left and Troy was asked to temporarily fill in. He accepted the offer in 1996 and in very little time was offered a permanent position, which he also accepted and became the lab supervisor where he worked for two years.

As the mine’s information technology specialist, Troy worked to customize a software package developed in San Jose, California. Using the Oracle database and Java, this company had developed a software for the pharmaceutical industry. It was a LIMS (Laboratory Information Management System) which is used for tracking samples and results in the human gnome project for DNA testing.

This software was customized for the gold mining industry in Elko, and Troy was responsible for programming the necessary changes to meet the needs of his company. The software company recognized Troy’s special ability at customizing their software to other companies’ specifications and offered him a full-time job. Troy decided that six years of working at the mine was enough and accepted the offer in November 1998.

Troy and his family stayed in Elko for the next two years while he was working for Applied Biosystems, the software company from San Jose, California. Using the software, Troy writes customized programs for many different businesses. Applied Biosystems does consulting and programming for companies all over the United States. There was travel involved, but mostly Troy could work from the office he had set up in his home. So in May 2001 he and his family moved back to Montpelier to live.

Currently, he is working on a New York state police forensics project. The Navy at Washington DC in Bethesda. MERK pharmaceuticals in Philadelphia, Boston University, and Vanderbilt are other projects he has worked on during the past year.

He schedules his day just like any regular work day. Because most of his customers are on the east coast, he begins very early in the mornings. A schedule from about 6:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. is ideal. Troy says, "It’s just great. I can pick my children up after school, spend time with them every day, and attend all their activities. They are too young now to understand my job and sometimes can’t understand why I don’t ‘go to work’ like their friends dads do’ or why I can’t always spend time whenever they want with them.

Troy related, "There aren’t many local jobs around here and if you want to live in Montpelier, you have to find some other way besides the typical traditional jobs that used to be available. Most people don’t know what to do. I had to move somewhere else to find work. It took time for me to develop a skill and get the experience I needed so I could work on my own. Trust is a big issue—you have to prove yourself with these companies before they hire you and let you live just anywhere you like. People need to get some experience to do what I’ve done, but there’s a lot of potential."

As to technical skills, Troy has a high school diploma and is self-taught in the area of information technology. He always liked the challenge of figuring things out for himself and was highly motivated to do so. He feel people need to acquire specialized skills. Then, he says, "You can move back to the place you love to live and work independently of the area’s job opportunities."

Troy would be willing to help teach small groups. He prefers to work with people who are motivated to figure things out on their own.