Teleworks USA Beattyville Hub Helps Lee Countian Missy Winters Change Life with Teleworking Opportunities
It may seem like it comes right out of the plot of a made-for-TV movie, but Lee Countian Missy Winters will be the first to tell you that one fateful phone call in the spring of 2016 absolutely changed her life.
Winters sits at a round conference table in the Teleworks USA Beattyville Teleworks Hub, a headset close by.
“My jobs in the past have been accounting, and the jobs that I was in at the time, they laid a lot of people off,” Winters explains.
For five years, Winters worked for a residential education and job training program as an accountant, and had previously worked in administration positions at other companies. In 2012, she got the news that she would no longer be working with the program as the company was implementing widespread layoffs.
Winters knew she had to act fast to find employment, even if she was searching in a region that has become more of a job desert in the last decade.
“The only job I could find was at a local gas station, and it was minimum wage,” she says. “It was really hard to get by.”
This started a nearly three-year cycle for Winters of finding other minimum wage positions but always returning to the gas station when she couldn’t find anything else. Luckily, she says, she was working at the gas station when a cold-call from at partner with Teleworks USA came through and she picked up the phone.
“We had phone calls that would come through to businesses to tell us about Teleworks offering classes and stuff, so when I heard about it on the phone, I wrote that number down and I called her the same day,” Winters says, her smile growing.
An initiative of the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program, Inc. (EKCEP), Teleworks USA identifies and develops legitimate remote-work, distance earning opportunities, and helps people prepare for and land these jobs. The Beattyville Teleworks Hub opened its doors in March 2016, just one month before Winters received the call about it.
“I was kind of excited—you get free training and it’s something that can help get me making more money and be able to work from home,” Winters says, adding that she was enrolled in the second training workshop the Beattyville Hub held.
Her employer at the time at the gas station was more than supportive of her decision to receive training from Teleworks USA, she says.
“She knew that I needed to make more money to be able to get by, and she wanted us to succeed,” Winters says. “She knows her job is not something people really stay with forever.”
Winters says enrolling in the workshop was as easy as making a phone call to Hub Manager Tracie Spencer, and working through the workshop was almost just as easy.
“A lot of the stuff I already knew because I’d dealt with customer service a lot,” she explains. “But, they kind of opened your mind more on how to deal with customers. . . It gave me more ways to help the customer, more ways to talk to the customer, to relate to them. . . because every customer’s different.”
After completing the workshop, Winters immediately gained employment with a cable company as a customer service representative. However, the job wasn’t the right fit for her.
“I got away from that one, and I went back to work at the gas station,” she says with a smile.
Winters never gave up on her new dream to be able to work from home thanks to the knowledge she’d gained from Teleworks USA.
“I got to seeing that there were some positions open for a KellyConnect job fair, which I came up here and talked to Tracie (Spencer) with Teleworks about it,” she says.
The KellyConnect job fair was a two-day job fair held at the Hazard and Pike County Teleworks Hubs at the beginning of May 2017 where nearly 200 jobseekers were offered positions with the company. Winters was one teleworker that made the cut.
“Here I am, back in training again,” she says, laughing.
Winters finished her training at the end of June 2017, and has been working for a month so far as a KellyConnect customer service support agent.
“I’m just there to help them (customers), and that’s all I wanted to do is just help them. It makes me feel good,” Winters notes.
Looking back on her experience with Teleworks USA, Winters admits that she’s not sure where she would be in life had she not been the one to pick up the phone at the gas station that day and learned about Teleworks.
“I hope I wouldn’t still have a minimum wage job, but in that county that we’re in, jobs are hard to find, and you’ve got to go really far to get them,” she explains. “For me, it’s hard to be so far away from home with all the kids, so I’d probably still be there.”
Winters says she has recommended the workshops to a number of people she knows who are looking for work.
“It puts you up in front of everybody else because you have all of these trainings that other people don’t have. People are like, well, you don’t get paid for training—no, but the stuff you’re getting costs money and you’re getting it for free. Take advantage of it that way you can get a better job and better yourself,” Winters says.
“It’s exciting, and the more people that know about it and realize what it could do for them—it could really open doors for them,” she adds.
EKCEP, a nonprofit workforce development agency headquartered in Hazard, Ky., serves the citizens of 23 Appalachian coalfield counties. The agency provides an array of workforce development services, administers the Hiring Our Miners Everyday (H.O.M.E.) program for dislocated coal miners and their spouses, and is the White House-designated lead organization for the federal TechHire designation for Eastern Kentucky. Learn more about us at http://www.ekcep.org, http://www.jobsight.organd http://www.facebook.com/ekcep.