Trudi KuntzschBy: Anne Maxwell
Sometimes a commute can be doable.
An employer can be flexible.
Co-workers can be supportive and create a fun environment.
And yet, there’s this feeling that a remote career would be the best fit.
That’s the case for Trudi Kuntzsch. The experienced bookkeeper had enjoyed a job in town as a resident of Scott City, with an office just minutes from her home. But when she moved to Wilson in 2017, the area had a lot of communities, but most of them were small. This left Kuntzsch with few opportunities close to home. She found herself having to look for work in Hays or Salina, both of which meant several miles of travel and a lot of time on the road.
She settled for work in Russell, just a 30 minute commute, and enjoyed some flexibility, but still it meant an hour on the road each day.
“It wasn’t a bad drive, but it was an hour out of my day and I had to run errands after work,” she said.
When she saw an article about Rural & Remote in the Winter 2020 issue of Northwest Kansas Today published by the Dane G. Hansen Foundation, Kuntzsch immediately reached out for more information.
“I emailed right away,” she recalls. “I felt like I had nothing to lose.”
A Zoom call with NWKS Regional Coordinator at Rural & Remote Gretchin Staples about the Master of Remote Work Certificate solidified her interest and she began the course in August 2020.
Right from the start, the coursework indicated a remote career would be a good fit. Kuntzsch said the skill set defined included some of her work habits of organization and discipline already. However, she said walking through the particular of how those skills play out in a day-to-day remote work environment were helpful. In addition, some of the coursework helped her hone and sharpen her professional tools.
“A group of three of us in the course were assigned a project together, which gave us real-time experience on what it’s like to have to put together a project remotely,” she said. “The communication, the coordination and the work that goes into accomplishing that was really a valuable experience.”
Once the course was complete, Kuntzsch launched her job search with the help of a paid subscription from Rural & Remote to the remote jobs search platform “Flex Jobs.”
It was here that the real work began for Kuntzsch, but she didn’t shy away from the challenge.
“Gretchin was awesome throughout my time with Rural & Remote because from the very beginning she was very honest and up front about making it clear that, ‘We (Rural & Remote) will help you, but you will have to do the work, the effort and the searches to find the job. We will not find it for you,’” Kuntzsch noted, adding she was told to expect her search to last at least six months and take more than 20 applications before she secured the job she wanted.
“My goal was to have something by Christmastime,” said Kuntzsch, who launched her search in the fall, and used many of the resources through Flex Jobs for resume building and coaching.
There were many jobs that she could have applied for and probably secured, but Kuntzsch said during her research of companies she came upon a business that offered QuickBooks services for clients.
“I could have done some customer services jobs, but when I heard that business owner based out of Utah talk about what they did for clients, I knew I wanted to do that,” she said.
She had been familiar with QuickBooks, but not the online platform of the software. So, she invested again in her remote dream and took an online course over a weekend. Several applications and disappointments didn’t dissuade her. And, her persistence paid off when through her daughter, she learned of an opportunity that might be a good fit. She applied and now works remotely for an accounting firm based in McPherson.
“Basically, we manage ‘clean up’ … we go in and ensure everything is coded correctly and balanced for these clients in their QuickBooks entries, and then the accountant can go in and file the taxes,” she said. “It’s still a big learning curve, but I am enjoying it and I am so happy to be working remotely.”
With just a few weeks into her remote job, Kuntzsch said she encourages others in rural areas to look for ways to advance their career through remote opportunities.
“There really is something there for everyone in the training because of the skills they help you gain or improve upon,” she said. “Besides that, they offer so much encouragement. It’s a great way to see just what you can do.”