How the Internet and Telecommuting Saved My Life

April 4th, 2013 | Karelyn Lambert | 30 Comments

Keyboard The ability to interact online, as a tangible way of pursuing an education and a career, changed my life.

I know that sounds overly dramatic, but it is the honest truth.

When I started my first job at 17, remote work was unheard of. Of course, at that point in my life (about to finish high school, no kids, no real responsibility other than work), spending eight-to-10 hours at work did not have a huge impact on my life.

I actually enjoyed it and looked forward to the close to two hour bus ride there and back.

However, when I became pregnant with my son at 19, my life drastically changed and so did my overall view on a traditional 9-5 job.

For years, I struggled with work-life balance. 

I managed to juggle a full-time job and family, but I never felt the sense of accomplishment that people always refer to when talking about their career. In 2006, my second son Ayden was born and I really started to reflect on my life, my job, and the future. At the time, I was working at the operation center for a major local bank in the Receipt and Dispatch department, which is a very nice way of saying mail room.

I enjoyed my coworkers, but not my actual job duties. And I realized that with my level of education (HS diploma only at this point), I would never advance in the business world, and most likely have an entry-level position for the rest of my life.

I wanted a degree. I love to learn and I adore school, but what can I say? Life got in the way after graduation, and I found it far easier to work to live rather than to enjoy my work.

I knew it was downright impossible for me to physically go to school with a full time job and two full-time kids. 

Through the “grapevine,” I heard that a local college was offering completely online degrees (on-campus visits were only required for the proctored exams.)  I was instantly sold, but also wary that a degree earned completely online might not be as good as one earned by attending on campus lectures.

With no other foreseeable option to obtain my degree (other than cloning myself), I decided to sign up for classes right away.  Two years later, I graduated (in an actual real-life ceremony) and received my Associate Degree in Business Administration.

After earning my degree online, I realized that hard work and technology can replace the on-campus experience.

Soon I began to wonder if I could apply this logic to another major part of my life: work. 

The first time I worked remotely was in 2010. Even though the job was not 100% remote, I found that I enjoyed my life and my career so much more when I was allowed to work from home.  In fact, I even noticed that my dedication to my work was stronger!

After a year of being remote part time, I decided to make it a full-time gig.  I researched websites and although I found a few lemons, I eventually landed on oDesk.  I was already a seasoned Administrative Assistant at this point with over eight years of office experience under my belt. Finding the right contracts was a struggle at first, but eventually I got the hang of “interviewing” online.

Today I couldn’t imagine my life any other way. 

I love being a Virtual Assistant.  I am able to work, be there for my kids when they get off of school, and save a ton of gas! I work just as hard as I ever did “in person,” and can actually say I enjoy getting up to “go to work” every morning.

Despite the bad press recently attributed to telecommuting, I am a strong believer that, when executed correctly, telecommuting will change the face of business and empower more people to work hard and pursue their careers regardless of what is waiting at home.

I’m living proof of that.

Image: cheetah100 via Flickr, CC 2.0 

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Karelyn Lambert

Karelyn Lambert

Virtual Assistant
Karelyn Lambert is a virtual assistant and self-proclaimed geek who is also into fishing and cooking (she makes a mean jambalaya), and is based in the Metro New Orleans area. She and her husband are the proud parents of four kids: three human, and Chimmi the Chiweenie. With Shonali Burke Consulting, Inc. as one of her clients, as one of her clients, Karelyn is fast learning why she should always use the Oxford comma.
Karelyn Lambert
Karelyn Lambert
Karelyn Lambert

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"A Little Birdie Told Me" could fly into your inbox just once a month. It's Shonali-as-seen-nowhere-else. What're you waiting for?

29 comments
Shonali
Shonali moderator

I never told you this at the time, Karelyn, but the day I read your post was a day I'd been dealing with some griping from a couple of my students. IMO, it was ridiculous, silly stuff - stuff that would be better coming from a five-year-old. I was so fed up with having to deal with them... and then I read your post. And I thought to myself - my goodness. Look at what this woman deals with, and has overcome... and look at, on the other hand, the students. I can attest to your work ethic and I'm very glad oDesk brought us together!

dbvickery
dbvickery

Shonali told me I would enjoy this post. And as a person who has telecommuted for 15 years...and watched two daughters grow up, and hear about their day while sharing coffee with my wife...I can relate.

I work more hours at home, but it's a fulfilling life.

JessicaMichelleLuc
JessicaMichelleLuc

very true! i have watched u go from working 10 hrs a day to working from home and i know u r much happier! i love reading ur blogs! great work karelyn!! <3 :)

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

What a great story @Karelyn Eve Lambert though I find it hard working from home with a wife who works early evenings and a 21 month old and a really small home. I want an office.....down the street LOL

3HatsComm
3HatsComm

Sigh.. no one has ever said your surgeon or hotel maid can work via remote.I tackled some of the bad press this topic has been getting b/c the other side can only weakly argue 'but it's still not the office!' And so what? Plenty of folks like you do it, work hard at and make it work. Period. My thing is simple: if the tools of your trade are a computer/keyboard, phone and Internet connection, then the 'office' is where your brain is working at the time. FWIW.

rachaelseda
rachaelseda

What a great post Karelyn! I often wonder how I will ever have kids and be able to work the way I do now. I know I will figure it out when the time comes but it's always nice to learn from real women who've found a way to make work and a family "work" for them while also finding something they enjoy. Thank you for sharing your experience!

JoelDanielInwood
JoelDanielInwood

Really inspirational read! I'll have to check out oDesk. I don't think I would want to work from home full time, but 2-3 days a week could be a godsend. 

MattLaCasse
MattLaCasse

That's an amazing story, @karelyneve! I think most people can see the perks in telecommuting pretty easily. I'm curious what you find the challenges to be? Do you find it difficult to communicate as quickly and clearly with @Shonali or whomever? I'm very much in favor of a virtual work model...my inner journalist is coming out (or natural curiosity. Whatever.)


Shonali Burke
Shonali Burke

I thought this was such an honest and brave post to write, Karelyn.

Gini Dietrich
Gini Dietrich

I thought this post was really good. I love that she took control of her own destiny.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich

I love this, Karelyn! Huge congratulations to you on taking control of your own destiny. Not many people do that - choose instead to complain about how much they hate their lives - so I commend you greatly on this.

I'm with you on telecommuting. In November 2011, I took my team completely virtual and it's been fantastic! Sure, we have some challenges, but they're easier to manage than some of the challenges that arise in an in-office setting. I really love working this way.

karelyneve
karelyneve moderator

@JessicaMichelleLuc Thank you Jessica!  You have definitely seen me go through this transition first hand and given me so much support.  I am glad you enjoyed my post.

karelyneve
karelyneve moderator

@HowieG Space has been a little bit of a challenge for me, but I've made it work.  I would love to have a designated office space in my next apartment/house.

karelyneve
karelyneve moderator

@3HatsComm I completely agree!  The other myth I would like disbanded is the assumption that people who work remotely don't work as hard.  This is so untrue.  I believe that if someone is a hard worker that will show regardless of where the work takes place. Thank you for reading and commenting.

karelyneve
karelyneve moderator

@ginidietrich Thank you so much for the positive feedback.  I agree that telecommuting is a great way to work!


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  1. […] The idea of not having to squeeze into uncomfortable shoes or sit in traffic has an instant allure to virtually anyone who has held a traditional 9-5. It seems like perfection, a dream come true, a breath of fresh air, and a life saver! […]

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