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Putting the Pieces Together for Telework

“It changed my world and my family’s world because of that opportunity.”

Class of 2017: Dawn Ausema

Grant, MI (August 5, 2020) – Grant, Mich., is a one-traffic-light kind of town. Farming is a way of life. Packing sheds dot the nearby landscape where just about every kind of produce—from apples to onions—is grown and harvested.

Dawn Ausema grew up a few towns over in Sparta but lives just outside of Grant with her husband and three children—all teenagers.

“I like being out in the country and kind of having my space,” said Ausema. “We have 29 acres, and our neighbors aren’t right next to us, so there’s plenty of space for everyone.” But, despite the idyllic landscape and slow pace of rural town life that she loves, Ausema has been struggling with a problem. She wanted to work but there are not many jobs in the area for those outside the farming industry.

“I’d been looking for a stay-at-home position for years and years. I was a stay-at-home mom because my husband drove a truck. I always wanted to be able to help and support the family as well, but there was nothing, so I was working for a local cell phone store until I could find something else,” Ausema explained.

She found “something else” in 2017 when she saw an ad in the local paper for Digital Works, a digital training and job placement assistance program for telework and remote positions. Classes were taking place at a local co-working space called The Stream, located in Newaygo, Mich. She decided to check it out.

“When I walked in I thought, ‘This is probably a scam and I don’t have time for scams,’” Ausema said. “You find so many ‘scammy’ things when it is work-from-home, so I was nervous, and I laid it out there and was upfront that I want to work from home but I don’t need a scam in my world.”

Dawn Ausema

Dawn Ausema

She quickly learned that Digital Works was the “real deal.” Because of her job at the cell store she was going to miss one class every other week—the maximum number of absences allowed to still be allowed to complete the training.

“Colleen, my facilitator, told me I had to be committed to be there the rest of the time or I shouldn’t sign up,” Ausema said. “I told her I’d be there every day I could. So, I was and I loved it. I learned so much. It was stuff I would never have considered from how to present yourself in your résumé to how to make that shift from in-person to being on the phone—you can hear a smile. I just learned a lot of those little things that finally clicked into place for me personally.”

She says the training has served her well over the last three years. Ausema began working as a contractor with a company and then was promoted to a team lead on a campaign. From there, she was hired on as an employee for the sourcing department—a job she loves. Ausema says if
telework interests you then NOW is the time to look into these types of positions.

“It’s crazy with COVID. Everyone talks about having time off because of the pandemic, but I’ve never worked harder. Our department has grown about five times as big in response to all the inbound work we’re getting. It has not been boring,” she said.

Dawn Ausema

Dawn Ausema

As Ausema continued her upward career trajectory, Digital Works staff continued offering similar training to others in communities across the country, and, on July 23, 2020, the program marked its 1,000 th job placement.

“Seeing the program hit that milestone is so exciting! Digital Works has changed my world. I lived out in the middle of nowhere, 10 minutes from our local town. In that town there are no jobs, but now, because of this, I work from home every day,” she said. “It changed my world and
my family’s world because of that opportunity. It was just about putting the pieces together for me. I had been looking for my whole marriage—more than 16 years—for something, and then suddenly there it was, and I grabbed the opportunity and ran with it. I’m so thankful for Digital Works in my pursuit of a career.”

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