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Emily Reed

For Emily Reed, mornings used to mean rising early to dress up, jumping in the car, and heading down the road for a 30-minute commute.

A mid-day break used to mean grabbing a quick lunch or running an errand to make the most of noon hour minutes.

Evenings used to mean getting back behind the wheel, traveling 30 minutes back home, and walking in the door and find all the chores put on hold during the day.

Luckily for Reed, all that “used to” define her days no longer does. She’s landed a remote position and living the life she “used to” only dream of.

“I absolutely love it,” says Reed, who began working remotely for the Small Business Association in August 2020. “I love being at home with my dogs, I love that I don’t have to dress up every day and I am so glad I don’t have to drive an hour to an hour-and-a-half every day.”

Remote work offers a special draw for Reed, who lives with her husband on a homestead north of Plainville. A Nebraska native, she ended up making Northwest Kansas her home after earning her Ag-Business degree from Fort Hays State University.

“I grew up in a town of about 600 people west of Lincoln, so I am most at home in small communities,” she said. “I like smaller communities, and I’ve thought about remote work because it’s not always easy to find a lot of opportunities.”

Reed was lucky enough to have different jobs in the region that helped her acquire banking and business experience. When she saw an ad for Rural & Remote, she felt it could be her chance to change things.

“I was commuting every day,” she explained, noting future plans played as big of a role as present circumstances. “We hope to start a family someday and I want to be able to stay home with my children. My husband also hopes to move closer to his family to help with the farming, so I knew remote work could be a way for me to have job opportunities and still make those things happen for our future. Finding a job is just one more thing I don’t have to worry about if we do relocate.”

Reed applied and was accepted into the Master of Remote Work Certificate program offered by Rural & Remote, which enables participants to get a feel for what it means to be part of a remote staff.

“It really opened your eyes up to what remote work is like on a daily basis,” she noted. “It offered great insight at what it’s like to work with a team you cannot see and to work with people in different time zones.”

Reed completed the course but waited several months before she started pursuing a remote position. Participants in the training receive one year of free access to the Flex Jobs search engine for remote work, so that’s where Reed launched her search.

And that’s when Reed reaped additional benefits from her relationship with Rural & Remote. With countless openings to pinpoint, some remote job seekers aimlessly submit applications without a concise strategy. Luckily for Reed, it was about that time that Gretchin Staples, Regional Program Coordinator, helped the business professional chart a course.

“Gretchin reached out to me and gave me some tips,” Reed recalled. “I’d been applying for about three months and with her help, I started fixing my resume, applying for different positions that were better suited to my experience and that’s where I got the job I have now.”

The job she landed doubled her current salary and offered a two-year contract to work for the Small Business Association to help with the Paycheck Protection Program borne out of the pandemic. It’s the perfect fit for someone with experience in small commercial loans for Reed. The insight and direction from Rural & Remote in the application process was invaluable.

“There’s so many things out there … I applied for a lot and never heard back because how do you make yourself stand out to those companies and make them say, ‘I want to hire you,’” she said. “Gretchin helped me narrow down my search and find things more suitable to my background. It’s all about using my skills and my experience for certain jobs.”

The work – as well as the remote situation – is ideal for Reed. She said she enjoyed her former position and her co-workers, but she’s simply happier at home and no commute time.

“I love having an hour to an hour-and-a-half added back to my day,” she said. “I feel like I am so much more accomplished throughout the week.”

Reed credits the Rural & Remote training for helping her be successful in her adjustment to a remote setting. She took their pointers to heart, from creating an office space in her home dedicated to her desk and computers to sticking to a schedule.

“I set a timer on my watch to hit my work hard and then take a break,” she said. “I might take a quick 15 minute walk with my dogs, go pick a few tomatoes in my garden or switch out my laundry.”

And then, she’s refreshed and ready to dive back in at her desk – which is just fine with Reed.

“It’s somewhere I want to hang out and somewhere I want to be,” she said. “I am home and that’s where I am comfortable.”