Toni StandleyBy: Anne Maxwell
Sometimes, you come to a point in your professional life where you truly think, “I just can’t do this anymore.”
For Toni Standley, that place in time arrived a couple of years ago while she was working more than two hours away from home. She lived in Moundridge during the week, and then drove more than 120 miles back to her family in Osborne each Friday, only to turn around and begin the draining, exhausting process all over again on Sunday night.
It wasn’t so much the job – she was managing apartment communities in the Hutchinson area – it was the logistical strain that took a toll.
“I was only able to do that about a year,” she recalls. “I came to point where I said, ‘I just can’t do this anymore.’”
Standley, like so many professionals in rural communities, felt professional opportunities meant enduring less-than desirable commutes. Even so, there came a point where she no longer felt as though she could manage the distance and effort it took to keep the ball rolling. She returned to Osborne and took an hourly position with the local school district, which she loved, but the salary was less than what she needed.
“I went from making $30,000 a year to $9 an hour,” she said. “I loved being a paraprofessional, loved my summers off, but I needed to make more.”
A previous working experience with Gretchin Staples of Rural & Remote, led her to find out more about the possibility of remote employment. With that initial contact, she decided it was time to pursue remote work and earned her Master of Remote Work Certificate in early 2020.
By that time, she had taken on a part-time job at the local grocery store to supplement her school income. Somehow, she juggled two jobs and the training, which speaks to Standley’s determination to change her life.
With training complete, Rural & Remote provided her with a subscription to FlexJobs, a remote work job site and she started creating her resume with high hopes. And, then came March and the COVID pandemic. As a grocery store employee, she was deemed an essential worker. With schools shut down, she was full time at the grocery store and her remote job search was put on the back burner. As so many others did during that time, Standley was just doing her best making it through day by day.
“Things just stalled out for me in June,” she said.
Luckily for Standley, Staples doesn’t let anyone who’s completed Rural & Remote to “fall through the cracks.” Staples reached out in October 2020 to ask if Standley was still interested in finding a remote job.
“I was so glad she called,” she said. “I had been in management positions in the past, so while the work at the store was ok, it wasn’t challenging and I wanted something more. I knew I could do more if given the opportunity.”
Staples set forth specific ways for Standley to present herself in virtual interviews and how to nail the job she wanted. She also got her connected with Concentrix, which is a worldwide company headquartered out of California that specializes in customer service support.
With Rural & Remote training and interview strategies, Standley secured a full-time position with Concentrix a mere three weeks after Staples contacted her. She began training in late November from the comfort of her home office, which she says she wishes she would have set up as soon as she started her job search.
“My best advice is to go ahead and make that investment in yourself and get the technology you need and get your internet hardwired,” she said. “I think if I would have had all of that on board and had been ready from the start, I would have gotten a remote job last summer.”
Having secured a position with professional growth and the chance at advancement, Standley offers a strong endorsement for Rural & Remote.
“Without that, I would have been completely overwhelmed with what I am doing,” she said. “But when you go through the Rural & Remote program, their Zoom workshops, classwork, it truly prepares you for working remotely and being successful with it. Gretchin also helped me build up my confidence and gave me insight on how to present myself in virtual interviews. It made all the difference.”
That’s not the only difference Rural & Remote has made for the north central Kansas professional.
“Rural & Remote opens the world to you,” she said. “I needed to stay in Osborne, Kansas, and still be able to work without driving two hours away. That was my whole focus when this all began … ‘What can I do from Osborne, Kansas and make the living I need to?’”
Thankfully, Standley found her answer with Rural & Remote.