Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Teleworks USA Gives Letcher Countian Matthew Childers a Chance to Escape Struggles

Struggles are a natural part of nearly anyone’s life; they’re said to build character and make a person stronger once they overcome them. Letcher Countian Matthew Childers can attest to that.

Childers sits in an old office chair at the Whitesburg LKLP office. He’s casually dressed in a navy hoodie and ripped jeans, mirroring his relaxed demeanor. He smiles nervously at first, but gets increasingly more confident as he begins to talk about how different his life is now than it was six years ago—before he made what he calls one of the best decisions of his life to pursue a remote-work career with the help of Teleworks USA.

“I had a lot of problems with drugs, some addiction problems and alcohol,” Childers says, looking around the room. “I really struggled for a long time even getting a job, maintaining a job, all the good stuff that comes with not living a good life or a good lifestyle.”

Childers says he battled with addiction for years, leading to some of the hardest struggles of his life. But that all changed in 2012 after he had what he calls an “eye opening” experience after being incarcerated for six months on drug related charges.

“It kind of changed the course of everything in my life. I knew that if I continued nothing would ever improve,” he says.

With a new year came a new life for Childers in 2013, cleaning up his act and starting a new job as a counselor for people who struggled with the same addiction issues he’d just escaped.

“It was kind of rewarding because I got to help people out of the situations that I was in,” Childers says, smiling and swiveling slightly in his chair. “It was a pretty good job, but the demands weren’t as high, so they started laying people off.”

Childers was laid off in February 2017, and suddenly faced another struggle in his life: finding a job.

“Coming from my background, it’s really hard to get a job because when they run your record or your background and you’ve got a possession charge or any type of drug charge, it kind of bites you a little bit,” Childers says with a chuckle. “It kind of makes you unemployable.”

Living in an area where jobs were already scarce, Childers remembers that he felt lost.

“I had been unemployed for five to six months, and during that time I was just cutting grass, cutting weeds, struggling to get any odd jobs,” he says. “There wasn’t anything I wouldn’t do to try to provide for my family.”

Childers says he would often turn to Facebook in order to message people he knew to see if they had any work that might need to be done. It was that social media outlet that also led him to a flyer for upcoming job openings with a program he’d never heard of.

“It just said Teleworks USA would be doing a job fair for the customer service company Kelly Connect, and it kind of explained working from home,” Childers remembers. “I thought, well, this can’t be real. There’s got to be a catch.”

Despite believing that an opportunity to have a full time job and be able to work from the comfort of his own home was too good to be true, Childers says he couldn’t get it out of his head, so he researched it.

“I read everything on it, and did a little bit of research on it,” he says, adding that he watched some YouTube videos of employees of Kelly Connect, the company that was planning the job fair with Teleworks USA.

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.

Childers says he realized he didn’t have anything to lose by attending the job fair, and so he went.

“There were like hundreds of people there and I thought, it’s going to be a one-in-a-million shot of even getting a job,” he says, laughing and adding the he still waited much of the day for an interview as Kelly Connect’s recruiting officials from the company’s home office in Troy, MI interviewed all in attendance.

Within a week, Childers says he received word that he was chosen out of a group of more than 200 applicants from the job fair to go on to the next phase of the hiring process. Teleworks USA Hazard Hub Manager Theresa Noble helped him complete a résumé, and he finished filling out paperwork so he could be scheduled for a training class with the company.

“Before I knew it, I was in a training class scheduled to start work,” Childers adds, a large grin spreading across his face.

Though he’d briefly worked before in a teleworking position, Childers says he was clueless as to what to expect from a work-from-home job.

“I had no idea how it really worked,” he says. “This is actually like a real job. You have to clock in on time, you have to be on time, you clock in and out for your lunches on time. You’re monitored—it’s a real job.”

Since starting in June 2017, Childers has been promoted from a Tier 1 advisor position working with a general computer operating system to a higher-level Tier 1 position working with specific hardware for the company.

“The company I work for is a really awesome company to work for. It’s something I never thought I’d be doing here in Letcher County and Southeastern Kentucky because I thought that was something that was just away from here in big cities and big towns,” he says. “To be doing what I’m going, it’s actually awesome, and helping people is something that I absolutely enjoy.”

With his newfound confidence developed, in part, by his teleworking career, Childers says he’s hoping to be able to help people in a different way in the future after graduating from nursing school. He adds that working from home through a teleworking company has allowed him a more flexible schedule and life so that he can fit his classes, his family, and his job all into his day without anything clashing.

“I would probably be a lot less fortunate now had I not taken the time to read Teleworks USA’s flyer last spring, actually respond to it, and show up for that job fair,” Childers admits.

Based on his experience, Childers says he urges anyone who has heard of Teleworks USA and perhaps just brushed it off as too good to be true to not judge a book—or flyer—by its cover.

“If it’s something that you even think is possible that you could do, take the time to actually check into it and do it because it’s something that’s been very rewarding for me,” he says. “I can work in my pajamas, I don’t have to go out. I don’t have to be on the roads. I can be right at home and safe and still clock in and clock out of work every day.”

And after everything he’s been through, Childers smiles as he imagines his future—a future with much less struggles on the horizon.

“It can be a good career or it can be a good stepping stone to get you to something else you’d like to do, but, definitely, in this area, where jobs are very scarce and not very good paying, this is definitely a great opportunity.”

For more information on Teleworks USA, the Teleworks Hub workshops, or work-from-home job opportunities, visit www.teleworksusa.com and sign up today!

EKCEP, a nonprofit workforce development agency headquartered in Hazard, Ky., serves 23 Appalachian coalfield counties. The agency provides an array of workforce development services and also administers the Hiring Our Miners Everyday (H.O.M.E.) program, which provides career services to laid-off miners and their spouses. Find out more at www.jobsight.org and www.facebook.com/ekcep.

Struggles are a natural part of nearly anyone’s life; they’re said to build character and make a person stronger once they overcome them. Letcher Countian Matthew Childers can attest to that.

HAZARD