Amber HernandezBy: Anne Maxwell
Sometimes, you get an idea in your head and you just can’t shake the thought.
That’s how it was for Amber Hernandez, who kept seeing information about Rural & Remote on social media and began to wonder if the Master of Remote Work Training might just be a good fit for her. There were several reasons remote work appealed to Hernandez, but at the top of the list was health concerns. As someone who’s struggled with chronic health problems, full-time employment outside the home presented several challenges. Yet, backing out of the workforce wasn’t something she was willing to do.
“I’ve had these issues since I was 15 and I have always tried my best to work,” she says from her home office in Ellis. “But it got to the point a few years ago that working outside the home was not an option for me. I was really intrigued by the course.”
She signed up and began the 30-day training in November 2019. Initially, Hernandez admits she had some hesitation about learning all the technology that’s involved with becoming a remote professional. But as soon as the training started, her doubts disappeared.
“The course was easy to go through … if you had questions, the trainers were always there to answer and if you were struggling, they made sure that you were able to get caught up,” she notes. “I had never known anything about technology. I was familiar with the basics – Word, Excel, and email programs. But learning about software and how everything works was new for me. Once I got started, I realized ‘I can do this.’ “
Hernandez completed the course while working her full-time job. Her background as an administrative professional in clerical positions made her a natural fit for the organization and detailed focus that’s needed for remote work. Still, as she worked through the training, Hernandez said she wasn’t fully convinced her efforts would pan out.
“But then I’d hear the instructors involved with the course talks to us about all the different opportunities that there are out there for us afterwards and it really intrigued me,” she says, noting that encouragement kept her hopeful.
With her certification complete, Hernandez set out to look for remote work on FlexJobs – an online marketplace. (Rural & Remote students who complete the course receive a one-year subscription to the job site to aid them in their employment search.) Hernandez doubled down on the optimism she had for landing a job after her initial attempts were unsuccessful.
That’s when Hernandez saw another aspect to the value of having a support system from the training.
“Gretchin (Staples, Rural & Remote Regional Program Coordinator, kept encouraging me to hang with it and keep trying,” Hernandez said, adding Staples offered resume and interview coaching.
Hernandez’s perseverance paid off with a job opportunity a few months down the road with Concentrix, a company that provides customer service for corporations. When health issues prevented Hernandez from competing training, she had to walk away from the job and feared she had lost any chance at working remotely.
“My health was not good at that time, but I just refused to draw disability and not do anything,” she said, noting she draws on the encouragement of her fiancé and her children to strive each day to live her life to the fullest. “Success makes you feel so much better when you are dealing with a chronic illness. I live for my family and my children, but having work to do gives you self-esteem and helps your mood.”
Yet again, Staples stepped forward to make sure Hernandez’s hopes were fulfilled.
“Gretchin got in touch with me to see if I was still interested in pursuing work with Concentrix,” Hernandez recalls. “She helped get me back in touch with them. She has been incredible. I couldn’t have done it without her. When I was going through all my health challenges, she told me to just let her know what she could do to help me. It is great to know you have someone in your corner.”
The road to remote work hasn’t been an easy journey. There have been many detours. But that’s ok for Hernandez. Especially since her role for Concentrix involves navigational support for GMC OnStar Satellite customers.
“It’s really interesting work,” says Hernandez with a smile. “I’m a longtime Kansas resident, so it’s fun to hear from customers who are traveling in all parts of the United States. There are days you help a retired couple who are on their way to the casino and have taken a wrong turn, or other people trying to find their way. You help get them back on course.”
Redirection is something Hernandez is familiar with after hitching her dreams to Rural & Remote. She hopes others will follow.
“If you’re the least bit interested in working remote – go ahead and go for it,” said of the Rural & Remote training. “So many people will help you and guide you and get you to where you need to be.”
Sounds a lot like another day at the home office for Hernandez.