How a Digital Works Grad Went From Student to Classroom Facilitator
Class of 2014: Tracy Dwyer
Adams County, OH (August 5, 2020) – Tracy Dwyer owned and operated Aggie’s Steakhouse in Manchester, Ohio, when her 3-year-old son made her rethink her career.
“Running a restaurant is a 24/7 job. So, I was starting to take him with me to the restaurant because I’d missed so much of his life,” she said. “One day he looked at me and said, ‘Mommy, I don’t want to get the stuff for the restaurant today.’ I told him, ‘I kinda agree, Bub.’”
Dwyer was 40 years old when she became a mom for the first time—a blessing she didn’t expect. But, as you can imagine, running a restaurant was challenging, especially while raising a little boy. She came across Digital Works in 2014 and realized she could make a change.
“There was this great-big crooked tree in front of a building in West Union, and just behind that was a door painted with that Digital Works’ green,” said Dwyer. “I kept thinking, ‘What is that?’ People started talking about the program, and some were skeptical because it was all about
working from home. But other than working for Walmart or McDonald’s, there really were not a lot of new work opportunities, so I decided to try it.”
It turned out to be the perfect fit. Not only did she graduate from the program and quickly find a work-from-home position, but later she would return to help other Digital Works students—assisting with classes in Lynchburg, Ohio.
“Throughout the classes, I kept going, ‘This is amazing. We really need to expand this.’ I felt we could do so much more,” Dwyer said. “I knew I could make this work. This program could be so important in our area. I’d experienced it myself. My first position changed my life. I was able to be home with my son and didn’t have to pay a babysitter. So, I wanted to help others in my community.”
Dwyer began leading classes in West Union and used the managerial experience she gained while at the restaurant to implement some new training ideas. The changes were effective. She points to a 100 percent graduation rate and a 98 percent job placement rate for the location.
Digital Works is operated by national nonprofit Connected Nation and funded through grants and private donations. The West Union location ultimately had to close down once the grant funding ran out.
“My son is now 10 years old, and he still asks about me working at the place with the green door,” she said with a laugh.
These days, Dwyer works for LiveOps—a company she says she loves—and is applying for a promotion. She credits her time with Digital Works for helping her grow her career and develop the skills needed to succeed at the company.
“I promote Digital Works so intensely, even to my company,” she said. “You’re getting trained agents. We know they know how to use a computer, they know how to type, and they already have a background check. That knocks out 50 percent of our troubles. If we bring on someone from Digital Works, we know a lot more about them and we know that they’re serious because they put in the time to learn these skills.”
Currently, among other things, LiveOps is fielding about 40,000 customer inquiries a day for one of their client’s. Dwyer says that’s just one example of the rapidly growing need for employees who are trained to handle digital and customer relations positions from home.
On July xx, 2020, Digital Works marked its 1,000 th job placement—a major milestone for the program, which is focused on helping people from all walks of life access new opportunities.
“First of all, even without the pandemic, business leaders were realizing the work-from-home atmosphere can keep employees happier because they have more of a work-life balance,” she said. “Second, companies don’t have the cost of a brick-and-mortar location. That makes it a win-win for everybody. It’s why this type of work was already taking off, but now, with the pandemic, we’re seeing that even more positions can be done from home. So, I think there’s going to be a flood of jobs and opportunities coming available, and Digital Works is one way to make sure you’re ready.”