Jessica Bell didn’t come to Washington, D.C., for the tech scene, but after teaching herself how to code, she became a web developer and prominent female leader in the D.C. tech ecosystem.
Working in D.C. for about six years, Bell launched her career here in international relations with a communications job. That position led her to web development and taking on leadership roles in DC Tech Meetup, DCFemTech and the DC Association for Computing Machinery, as well as informal help with Tech, Rebalanced, Women Who Code DC and others.
“Moving on was a hard decision, the community of D.C. tech is really amazing,” Bell told Technical.ly. “My partner Seth Puckett and I decided after we became life partners, to take a year or so and travel the world as remote workers. This is a bittersweet time for me as I love the community here in D.C., but how can you not be excited for world travel!?”
Puckett is also a developer in #dctech, and the two decided to embark on a world adventure on Oct. 13 as digital nomads, taking on Mexico City first. Bell said they will be moving countries every three months and exploring more places such as Buenos Aries, Berlin, Kiev, Nairobi, Cape Town, Hanoi and Tokyo. With the uncertainty of returning to D.C., we sat down with Bell for an Exit Interview to get the details about her exciting move.
(This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.)
Where are you headed and what prompted the move?
Currently I am in Mexico City. Next up is a short stop in Colombia before a longer stay in Buenos Aries. We are staying about three months in each location. The longer time period is very important to us — we want to experience cities at a slower pace, learning more about the culture and history, and giving ourselves the ability to enjoy down time! Do you want the long version or the short! TLDR: Seth and I knew we wanted to live abroad but couldn’t settle on a place — so we chose all of them!
What are you most looking forward to in your new move?
It’s hard to choose one thing about traveling the world, haha. Honestly I am excited for the things I can’t predict. I am a planner and organizer and I have a SLIGHT tendency to schedule everything. This trip is going to force me to be more present — and I am excited to find out what that brings with it.
What’s one of your favorite memories from working in the D.C. tech community?
Way too many to count! Attending my first Tech Lady Hackathon (now Tech, Rebalanced) with Joy Whitt and then sitting on panels together after — growing into our careers along side Joy has been inspiring and supportive. The first time we held the DCFemTech Awards at the Washington Post — the space is so beautiful and the awards have matured into a truly awesome celebration. #brag: being honored in Washingtonian’s Top Tech 100 was NOT TOO SHABBY!
What will you miss most about D.C. tech?
The community solidarity. We have a wealth of folks working to make tech a more equitable field for racial and gender minorities, for developers of all different technical backgrounds, and for healthy company cultures. We still have problems and will for a long time to come, but the folks working to make this community what it is give me hope in this challenging political and cultural moment. Those folks will forever be examples in my mind of the kind of person I strive to be.
Do you intend to return to the D.C. tech scene?
Honestly I have no idea! You don’t go on a trip like this and come back the same — I am trying to honor that and not plan (VERY challenging for me!!). It’s hard to think of not returning — the opportunities, the community, the general attitude of DC Tech is quite addictive!
If you could describe your experience here in one word, what would it be?
Any parting words of wisdom or encouragement?
Fake it till you make it is about confidence, not skills — honor the learning journey you are on RIGHT NOW. If Internet Explorer can ask to be your default browser — you can ask for that raise! Thank you for everything D.C., you’ve made me a better person.
You can follow along with the couple’s journey at sethandjess.com.
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