by Heidi Riley
Vanessa and Shawn Tremere are taking the idea of working remotely to a whole new level. They are working for companies in Ireland while on extended stay back home on PEI.
Vanessa graduated with a Business Administration degree from UPEI in 2018. That led her to a job with a bioscience company on PEI. She started as an Administrative Assistant, and within her four years with the company, moved to a position as a Quality Assurance Specialist and then as a Buyer/Production Planner/Master Data Specialist in the supply chain field.
Although Vanessa and her husband Shawn, a Computer Programmer, were very happy in their jobs on PEI, they decided to make a huge change. When they got married in Scotland in 2018, it opened the door to the possibility of moving to Europe.
“We went through the process of obtaining the visa required to get legally married in Scotland. Once we had that, we started to seriously consider moving to Ireland. It’s something we had been dreaming about for a few years.
“We were both eligible for a program called Working Holiday Authorization, which grants a work permit to people aged 18 to 35,” says Vanessa. “You don’t need a job offer before you go. It gets your foot in the door, because it is more difficult to get a work permit without using this program. It was now or never because Shawn was reaching the maximum age cut-off.”
In 2019, Vanessa and Shawn moved to Ireland and settled in Dublin. “We are avid travelers, and from Dublin there is easy access to Europe. Prior to COVID-19, we travelled once or twice a month, sometimes just for a weekend.”
Living so far from home was not always easy. “It can be a bit difficult living in a foreign country with no family,” says Vanessa. “We had a lot of tough days when the pandemic hit, feeling so far away from our loved ones.” The first job Vanessa found in Ireland was not ideal. The commute to work was 70 minutes each way, and the work situation was not for her. She quit the job without having another one to go to.
But her gamble paid off. On her very last day of work, she received a job offer to work for a bioscience company. “The experience from my previous job on PEI definitely helped me land this job.”
Before COVID-19 hit, Shawn worked in an office in Dublin. Once the pandemic started, employees were given a laptop and worked from home. Vanessa’s employer already had a work from home policy in place. She went to the office about once a week and would meet with her team about once a month in person.
“I work with people who live all over Europe. My boss is in Switzerland, and in my team I have a colleague in Dublin and one in Switzerland. Before the pandemic, we would have in-person team meetings and workshops in many European countries.”
When the pandemic started, Ireland imposed a mandate to work from home if possible. In-person meetings ended, and everything was done through the telephone or Microsoft Teams. “It was difficult – you don’t feel as connected to colleagues and some of that personal touch is lost,” says Vanessa.
At Christmas, the couple returned to Canada when PEI opened its Family Connections program. “We worked from home in Ireland, and now home is PEI again,” says Vanessa.
Ireland is four hours ahead of PEI, which means Vanessa starts work at 5:30 am. “The good thing is that because I am at home, I can work in my pajamas! I do find that I work more hours than when I was at the office.
“My advice to anyone considering working in another country: Just do it! It has been an incredible experience, and it brought us closer together as a couple as we went through so many hurdles in a foreign country.
“It was not always easy, and we definitely questioned our decision when we first moved. We left two decent jobs that we liked, and we landed in Ireland with no apartment, no friends, and no job. It was difficult to get established. It was hard to get a cell phone and open a bank account, and there were a few other bumps along the way, but we love living in Ireland. It’s a gorgeous, lively country with stunning natural beauty, friendly people, and an unlimited amount of excellent music and events.”
Vanessa’s work permit has been renewed, and Shawn is waiting for his to be finalized before they head back to Ireland. “Working online has made our jobs a lot more flexible. We hope to come back to PEI next summer and continue to work remotely.”