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From the Umpqua Valley to Silicon Valley and Back

9:20 PM · Mar 28, 2023

When Uber presented their employees with the opportunity to work from anywhere in the US, Joseph Ziegler knew exactly where he wanted to go: back to Oregon. Ziegler was born and raised in the Roseburg and Winston area, and had always dreamed of being able to return to his home state, but thought it wouldn’t be possible until closer to the end of his career. The pandemic changed all that, and the opportunity to move back to the Umpqua Valley came much sooner than expected. “Oregon, especially the Umpqua Valley where I grew up, holds a special place in my heart. It's a peaceful place to raise a family, to experience all four seasons, and truly call home. Moving back here has been a dream come true, and my life has been better for it. I now live on a beautiful piece of property where each morning I'm greeted with the sight of deer, wild turkeys, and the wonderful trees.” Ziegler said Joseph Ziegler was born in Roseburg where he attended Green and Sunnyslope in the Roseburg School District up until 7th grade. He then started going to Winston Middle School and completed his early education at Douglas High School. Ziegler was really impacted at Douglas High School by his drafting teacher Bill Warren and Candy Robinson, who taught an after school program called Students Recycling Used Technology. This program helped Ziegler learn how computers worked at both the software and hardware level, and is where he realized he wanted to work with technology for the rest of his life. After graduating from Douglas High School in 2005, Ziegler enrolled at Umpqua Community College in the Computer Informations Systems program. His goal had always been to attend UCC and eventually work locally in the tech industry. During his third year, after talking with his professors and some industry professionals, Ziegler decided that getting a bachelor’s degree would be helpful to him getting a great job in tech field. So he decided to attend Oregon Institute of Technology, (a top technical school on the West Coast) in Klamath Falls, where he was enrolled from 2008 until 2013. Ziegler started at OIT in the Software Engineering program before changing his major to Information Technology with an emphasis in Application Development. In 2013, Ziegler graduated OIT with a bachelor of science degree. Google During Zieglers final year at OIT in 2013, he began looking all over Oregon for possible job opportunities after graduation. Though he was aware of the big tech giants like Google, Facebook and Amazon, he never thought he had the necessary skills or intelligence to work for them, so he never applied. Then, out of nowhere, a recruiter from Google reached out about their two-year fixed term program for recent college graduates. Ziegler thought it might be spam until he talked with the recruiter and learned the interest in him was real. “Beyond excited”, Ziegler began the rigorous interview process which consisted of four phone interviews and four to five in-person interviews at Google headquarters in Mountain View, California. For perspective, Google receives over 3 million applications per year and has about a .2% acceptance rate. In spite the extremely low odds, Google offered Ziegler a job in August of 2013. At Google, Ziegler supported their employees with complex technical issues, and said the experience was like a dream come true. The campuses and headquarters had every amenity one could imagine from unlimited meals, snacks, bowling alleys, game rooms, doctors office, a haircut facility and more. As part of his two year program, Ziegler had the opportunity to work in other Google offices worldwide and live in a country of his choice for three months. He chose Ireland where he worked in the Dublin office. He also had the opportunity to work in Germany, UK, Denmark and Portugal during his two years at Google. Uber As the completion of Zieglers two year program at Google was approaching, he was given two options. Apply for a permanent position at Google or look for opportunities elsewhere. Ultimately, Ziegler wanted to work for a smaller company where he could have a more. significant impact. Google at the time had around 32k employees. So Ziegler started looking for another position and shortly thereafter Uber and another company reached out asking Joseph to interview with them. Both ended up offering positions, but Ziegler ultimately decided to accept Uber’s offer as they were located on the West Coast and closer to family. At the time, Uber had around 5k employees, significantly smaller than Google. At Uber, Ziegler started on the service desk team by supporting internal employee support tickets. In 2016, he won the MVP award in his department. He also started building internal tools to help automate day-to-day tasks. Eventually, Ziegler approached other internal teams about transitioning to another role and ended up being hired on the Corp Site Reliability Engineering team, where he still works today after over 7 years at Uber. Today, Zieglers day-to-day work involves managing thousands of computer systems and being responsible for various services he built from the ground up that support more than 30k Uber employees. Future of Remote Work The benefits of remote work have been significant for Ziegler. “One of the biggest benefits of working remotely is the elimination of a grueling 1.5 hour commute each way, which adds up to a staggering 3 hours per day. The time spent commuting, combined with the demands of the workday and sometimes working late, often left me with very little time to spend with my family and friends.” Ziegler Said Ziegler also see’s remote work as boost to rural communities like Roseburg. “As remote work increasingly becomes a norm for companies, more people will seek out the communities of their choice, such as Roseburg. It's possible that people who grew up in this area, like myself, may return home thanks to remote work. Additionally, others who have never experienced the peace and serenity of a town like Roseburg may now have the opportunity to do so. This influx of new residents has the potential to boost the local economy and help small towns thrive. It's an exciting time for places like Roseburg, as the benefits of remote work extend far beyond just the individual worker.” Ziegler also had some advice for young people living in areas like Roseburg that aspire to work in the tech industry. “The best advice I can offer to anyone wanting to work in the tech industry or any field is to always believe in yourself. Never doubt your abilities, even if you come from a small town such as Roseburg. It's still possible to land your dream job at any company in the world. All it takes is believing in yourself, putting in the effort, being a do-learner (learn by doing things on your own), and never giving up. You don't need to attend an Ivy League school to succeed. Our education system in Roseburg and throughout Oregon is excellent, and it can help you secure any job you desire.” Giving Back Since arriving back in Roseburg, Ziegler has been working on some ways to give back to the community he grew up in. He is planning to launch a program that collects used computers from community members, refurbishes them, and offers them to others at little to no cost. The effort was inspired by his own experience of how he got into computers in high school, and he wants it to be a way to give back to the community. He’s also started his own side business offering IT support and engineering expertise to small businesses and residents in the Roseburg Area. Ziegler‘s story underscores the importance of not only finding fulfilling work or a career but also being able to pursue it in a location that brings joy and satisfaction. “Working remotely on my secluded property has been an incredible experience for me, my wife, and our kids. We feel truly blessed to be living the life we always wanted.” Ziegler also wanted to thank the two teachers who helped inspire him into his career. “I want to deeply thank Bill Warren and Candy Robinson for getting me started in this field and helping me continue working with technology until graduating high school. Thanks to them, I'm now living my dream.” ---------- If anyone has any tech equipment they would like to donate or has any questions for Joseph, he can be reached at joseph@josephziegler.com

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