Friday, May 18, 2018

Teleworks USA Helps Jackson Countian Jessica Barrett Ditch the Commute

Jessica Barrett sits in an office chair at the Teleworks USA Hub in Annville, not far from her home in her native Jackson County. She crosses her hands atop a long conference table and takes a deep breath and smiles.

“Adjusting to working from home was fairly easy for me,” she said. “I was just glad I didn’t have to drive an hour to go to work.”

In years past, Barrett was making that commute from her Jackson County home to work in London, Ky., an hour’s drive one way for minimum wage. Then, a few years ago, she found out about Teleworks USA and the agency’s work to connect people to legitimate work-from-home jobs.

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 helps 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 one of eight Teleworks Hubs in the region.

With help from Teleworks USA Operations Manager Betty Hays, Barrett landed positions in customer service, which got her off the road and working from her home office. All she needed was a broadband internet connection, a computer, and a headset.

“I prefer to work from home. I actually save money,” Barrett said, noting that she now spends much less on fuel and other expenses she faced when commuting to and from Laurel County.

In the spring of 2017, Barrett saw a Facebook post advertising an upcoming hiring event Teleworks USA was set to host for KellyConnect, a global telework employer providing customer service for well-known corporations with operations around the globe.

Barrett said she was hesitant at first. She had already landed a telework position through Teleworks USA, and was set for a promotion and would be mentoring other employees.

“Right at the last minute, Betty called and said I might as well come, this is at least a $12 an hour job,” Barrett remembered. “I said all right, I’m coming.”

The starting pay for KellyConnect represented a raise of two dollars per hour, Barrett said, so she showed up for the hiring event at the Annville Teleworks Hub and got in line to apply.

“I was one of the first ones hired,” she said.

In fact, Barrett was one of 169 people offered jobs following the hiring event in Annville, and a subsequent day of interviews at the Hazard Teleworks Hub.

Barrett accepted the position and started her new job at $12.25 per hour, providing customer service for a major computer hardware company. After 90 days she received a raise, and a few months after received her first promotion, increasing her hourly pay by two dollars in less than a year’s time.

“It was surprising that it was that quick,” Barrett said. “After I had been there about a month, my stats were up pretty good, and good enough to be promoted.”

And now, after a year with KellyConnect, Barrett remains satisfied with her position within the company. And when she looks back, she’s happy that she took Hays’ advice and applied.

“With Kelly, they give you good training. If it hadn’t been for all of the training, I don't think I’d ever made it. They kept at me and encouraged me,” she said.

And as for working from home, Barrett said there continues to be a lot of advantages over a daily drive, especially at times when the area may be experiencing inclement weather.

“Being able to work from home, with the hills and road conditions we can get in the winter time, sometimes you can’t get out when it’s ice and everything else,” she said. “But when you take just a few steps and you’re at work, you don’t have to worry about the traffic.”

Barrett said she’s also happy that Teleworks USA came to Jackson County when it did, and not just for her sake.

“We don’t have a lot of jobs in this county without Teleworks USA. We don’t have a whole lot anywhere,” she said.

“There’s no reason not have to employment in the county since Teleworks came in,” she added. “The only reason you won’t be successful in this county is if you don’t want to be.”

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

Jessica Barrett sits in an office chair at the Teleworks USA Hub in Annville, not far from her home in her native Jackson County. She crosses her hands atop a long conference table and takes a deep breath and smiles.

ANNVILLE