The Virtual Change

Fort Campbell, Ky (April 21, 2020) – The Fort Campbell Digital Works facility has had an interesting few weeks since the COVID-19 shutdown. Many local businesses have closed their doors and some larger corporations have laid off workers temporarily, or in some cases more permanently, due to the shelter-in-place orders both Tennessee and Kentucky have issued in an attempt to protect our communities during this pandemic. Many people are not only looking for employment opportunities but are desperate for a way to bring income into their homes without leaving them — now more than ever. Our local branch of Digital Works has stepped up to address this issue and provide whatever support we can to our people.

Halfway through Class II, the shutdown shook our lives, and we adapted by finishing the curriculum as planned, albeit through a virtual classroom so that all students and faculty could be safe in their homes. Following the graduation of Class II, however, the Digital Works team was presented with a unique issue that required immediate attention: People need remote jobs and they need them NOW!

The current group of students that make up Class III of the FC DW facility are more or less a pilot group all on their own. Each of these students had their initial assessments and intake interviews — typically done in the office with the staff — administered 100 percent online and by phone.

Jess Golson, program facilitator at the FC DW location, said it was definitely different this go around.

“The intake assessments and interview process are a time where I get to meet and become familiar with upcoming students. And it’s not just for me,” Jess says. “These people need to know they can trust me with their futures. The face-to-face part of the process affords them the chance to see that not only am I real and human, but I care. I care about their today and tomorrow, and I am on their side. You lose so much of that when you don’t get to meet first. Each of these students came into the class with so much trust for a stranger. I can’t tell you how incredibly impressed I am with them every day they show up to class!”

The all-virtual Class III is well on its way, and students will graduate from the program on Friday, April 17. In case you missed it, that pace is a lot faster than the usual program course schedule.

“When faced with a change around you, you either adapt or you fail. Our team is all about success, and so adapt we did. We spent hours upon hours condensing the curriculum to meet the temporary but very real shifting in our society,” Jess says. “Our usual four-week program is phenomenal and truly encompasses so many necessary skills and techniques for remote work life. When we realized how many people were without jobs and in need of income right now, we knew the standard month of training was not going to work. However, none of us wanted it to lose any of its vitality. So we created this virtual two-week program with the intent to still provide one-of-a-kind telework preparation but do so within a reasonable amount of time so we could get people into jobs faster.”

The process has actually gone very well. Class is thriving and students are still pleased with the information they are receiving and ready to move onto the next step. One of Class III’s students, Meghan Hankins, reached out to Jess recently and told her how impressed she has been with the program.

“My husband went through the first class. Of course, it was in the classroom and lasted the usual four-week timeframe. He would come home with so much information, and I personally wasn’t sure if I would receive the same amount of training in this condensed class. I am just completely amazed by how much I am learning every day. Sometimes it feels like my head might explode, but honestly I like the pace. I am going to be able to finish class and find a job in just two to three weeks’ time and that is HUGE for my family, especially since I was just laid off from my job in food service. I need this.”

Once Class III finishes, Jess and the team are on schedule to start another virtual class at the end of the month. Class IV is set to start on April 27, and registration is open now. Digital Works and Connected Nation want to be at the forefront of this movement and we are putting in the effort. If you’re looking for a way to make it through this new world we are experiencing, let us help you. We’ve got your back.

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