We’re programmers, designers, security experts, cloud junkies, tech support superheroes, and more — but we’re also real humans, not the faceless robots some people like to imagine us as. The DreamTeam is made up of many hardworking talented individuals with interesting stories to tell. In our new Employee Spotlight series, you’ll meet some of these people, learn what they do (on and off the clock), and how they keep DreamHost irreverent and fun — just the way we like it.
Our series starts with Karolina Johansson, our in-house Visual Designer, lover of Star Trek and our very own Swedish delight. She’s got a unique DreamHost story — here is her first-person account:
Karolina Johansson: Visual Designer
I always enjoy telling people my story of how I got hired at DreamHost. Like most good stories, it includes an epic road trip, new beginnings, and forging new friendships — all stirred together by a little whiskey. The story also starts 2,135 miles east of Los Angeles all the way in Atlanta, Georgia. I was a customer of DreamHost long before becoming their Visual Designer, hosting my graphic design portfolio with them for years. I had been getting really good at breaking my site (more than I should probably mention) and was very appreciative of the patient Technical Support reps who would help me get my site back up. I had been making plans to move across the country to Los Angeles even before this fateful meeting happened. I had given my landlord notice I would be moving, told all my friends, and freaked my parents out. But little did I know I would be getting adopted by the most wonderful rag-tag group of people I would ever have the joy of knowing.
First, I was touched by DreamHost…
I had been invited to DreamHost’s Reach Out and Touch You Tour, their first in Atlanta. I almost missed out on the whole party with the spaces filling up so quickly. Thankfully Marissa (our Community & Event Manager) opened up a few more spots, and I scored two tickets. Hosted at one of my favorite places in Atlanta, a sports bar named Ormsby’s, I had no idea what to expect — only the promise of a fun night out. That was enough for my best friend Kimberly and me, thinking we would be home no later than 9 p.m. I have never been so pleasantly wrong in my life.
The event was held in the basement of Ormsby’s, complete with its own full bar, food buffet and bocce courts. I remember meeting members of the DreamTeam, and enjoying the fun group of people at our table. The evening flew by and we didn’t even notice. Fate would also have it that at this event I would meet my future boss, Brett. Trying to play it cool, I remember asking if DreamHost had their own in-house design department or contracted out to ad agencies. I got a little giddy when I found out DreamHost happened to be looking for a designer at that very moment. Brett encouraged me to send in my resume over as soon as possible.
As the event was winding down, I saw there was no chance of going home early. The rest of the night was spent showing a few people from the DreamTeam some of the most famous Atlanta nightlife institutions — which turned out to be a real adventure. Kimberly and I finally rolled up the driveway to our apartment around 3 a.m., exhausted. Even with one of the worst headaches in my life, I stayed true to my word — I sent my resume over promptly the very next morning. The following week I got a phone interview with Jason (my future Creative Director), and we set up an official in-person interview as soon as I was set to roll into Los Angeles. Now I just had to get to this magical place they called Brea, California.
3000 Miles. 10 Days. One friend.
Driving across the country to start over was scary and exciting at the same time. Kimberly tagged along on this epic road trip, which felt very appropriate. The journey resulted in being the best trip we have done together. It had potential to be heart wrenching, and I think if I had done the drive alone I probably would have turned back. But I only remember laughing the whole way. In between reading cheesy romance novels in cartoon voices and finding obscure little roadside attractions, we saw a lot along the way. We also slept on the floors of friends’ apartments, in crap hotels, and couchsurfed. We bounced around all over the map stopping in Little Rock, Dallas, Santa Fe, Flagstaff, Las Vegas and finally Los Angeles. We drove through torrential rains, hail, mountains and miles without gas stations. It was incredible to see the landscape change in front of our eyes, from the rolling green hills in Georgia, the Mississippi Delta, to the low grasslands in Texas. Lastly we arrived in the desert and finally climbed the Rockies. My little ‘99 Honda Civic proudly made it all the way to Brea with no fuss or muss. I did my in-person interview with all the familiar faces I had gotten to know in Atlanta, and some new ones. I was officially offered the job a few hours after my interview, while I was standing in the parking lot next to the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles (Coincidence? I think not.).
Living the Dream… Host.
My first day at DreamHost was thankfully nothing like a first day of school. It is still one of my fondest memories. Although there were definitely a few butterflies planted in my stomach, it was nothing compared to the typical first-day-jitters. While getting all my of HR paperwork filled out, accounts set up, software installed, I was greeted by everyone walking past my desk. The biggest project I was assigned my first day was folding this little guy (monster), who sits on my desk still.
Working at DreamHost has brought out my love for technology and design. While working here I have designed everything from our new product brochures, promo tickets, to Pedi-Cabs. You may be even wearing one of my DreamHost shirts right now! The job keeps me on my toes, and challenges me to keep learning. Working with people who are equally passionate to make things look beautiful and functional has pushed me to do better. One of the most rewarding projects so far has been pushing through the rebrand last year, and the unveiling of our new logo and website. I celebrated my two-year anniversary September 10th, and I am still not over the honeymoon phase of this job. Going from customer to teammate was a pretty easy transition. The people working here are just like their customers — passionate to make cool stuff, a little nerdy and stirred together by (maybe) a little whiskey.