Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Teleworks USA Gets Lee County Teenager Brandon Sparks on His Feet and Headed Toward a Happy Life

Going to work in your most comfortable pajamas seems like a dream to most working people, but it’s been a reality for Lee Countian Brandon Sparks since he’s become a teleworker with help from Teleworks USA.

Sparks sits at a computer terminal at the Teleworks USA Beattyville Teleworks Hub, clicking through the website we works for.

“Before I knew about Teleworks I was just doing odd jobs, and I didn’t really make a lot of money,” Sparks says as he turns from the computer. “It was really hard to get anything for myself, to get a step ahead of anything.”

Tired of depending on his parents for financial stability and just fresh out of high school, Sparks said he had a difficult time finding any kind of work in his small hometown bedsides cutting lawns.

“Some companies don’t want to hire you because you don’t have any work experience, which is kind of hard to understand because you can’t get work experience if they don’t hire you,” Sparks says with a smile, shaking his head.

At the end of his rope, Sparks was ready to get a job anywhere he could, even if that meant just a part-time, minimum wage position. Luckily, though, before he took that leap he heard about a program called Teleworks USA from a friend at the local housing authority.

“The first time I heard about Teleworks I didn’t have any idea what is was,” he admits, laughter bubbling out of him. “I actually thought it was its own business.”

An initiative of the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program, Inc. (EKCEP), Teleworks USA identifies and develops legitimate remote-work job opportunities with multiple national and global companies. Teleworks USA’s team of eight expert Teleworks Hub Managers also help prepare people for the jobs by upskilling them in customer service and technical support workshops, helping them craft strong résumés and hone their interviewing skills, and assisting them in applying for available remote-work positions they can work within their homes or the eight Teleworks Hubs.

Since its inception in 2012, Teleworks USA has opened Teleworks Hubs in Hazard, Hyden, Annville, Beattyville, Booneville, Harlan, Louisa, and Pike County. Those Hubs have helped bring jobs to more than 1,400 Eastern Kentuckians, and those positions carry an estimated $30 million in economic impact in new annual wages to teleworkers across the Eastern Kentucky Coalfields.

Sparks came to speak with Beattyville Hub Manager Tracie Spencer in June 2017 and was immediately thrown into the job market.

“She got me on the computer real quick and let me get my application out there to a bunch of people,” Sparks says, adding that Spencer also helped him fine tune his résumé to better suit teleworking positions.

Within two days Sparks had heard back from a company that works through Sykes Enterprises that he was most drawn to when he started applying.

“I had the interview and as soon as the interview was over I was told I had the job,” he says, grinning. “It was pretty fast. I was shocked. I was like, ok, I’ll probably hear from them in about a month, but no it was really fast.”

Sparks started training at the end of June and by the beginning of July he’d be brought on as a full-time employee.

“It’s amazing and I absolutely love it,” Sparks gushes of his job. “I have a great boss right now that helps me with everything I need help with.”

“Without Teleworks I for sure would be either working at Dairy Queen or a gas station,” he adds. “It would not have paid good and it would have been a whole different lifestyle actually. It’s pretty crazy to think about.”

Sparks says Teleworks has not only been a game changer for him but for all of Eastern Kentucky, too.

“With Kentucky, there’s not a lot of jobs available, and there’s a lot of the poorest counties that are here,” he says. “Teleworks offers you a way out of that.”

“Now, I wake up in my PJs and go to work in my PJs all day,” he says, laughing. “It’s awesome. I love it!”

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.org and http://www.facebook.com/ekcep.

Going to work in your most comfortable pajamas seems like a dream to most working people, but it’s been a reality for Lee Countian Brandon Sparks since he’s become a teleworker with help from Teleworks USA.

BEATTYVILLE