Work your dream job without ever leaving home.
When schools and businesses shut down in 2020, people transitioned into a new world of remote work. As the pandemic carries on, many people are sticking with their online careers, while others are expanding their job search to states away to seize new opportunities. For Midwesterners, in particular, the transition to remote work has opened up the opportunity to pursue their dream jobs without ever leaving the heartland.
According to a study presented by Apollo Technical https://www.apollotechnical.com/statistics-on-remote-workers/, one in four Americans worked remotely throughout 2021. By 2025, it is estimated that 22 percent of Americans—roughly 36.2 million people—will be working remotely. Because of the vast changes in the job market, people now have the chance to explore new possibilities.
McClane Gill, an Iowa native, graduated from Iowa State University in May 2018 and was looking for a job that would fit her needs and lifestyle. Her first job out of college was at WHO 13, where she worked as an Account Executive and a sales representative. After some time, Gill realized that she wanted to expand her opportunities, in both her work and social life. As someone who wanted to live in the hustle and bustle of a big city, Gill looked into remote work careers when the pandemic hit because she had the opportunity to work from anywhere.
A chance introduction to the Vice President of Marketing and Advertising at Fareway Stores, Inc., headquartered in Boone, Iowa landed her a career as the media manager in August 2020.
As Gill started the digital media manager position in August 2020 it opened her eyes to the possibility of a more flexible schedule where she didn’t have to work in a physical office.
“My job is largely working with people from all over the country, so most of my meetings, when I was living in Iowa, were remote anyways,” Gill says.
Since the pandemic changed the need for employees to be in the physical office, Gill started to explore a different living situation.
“When I explored the option of moving to Chicago, but [wanted] to still keep my job, we worked out a schedule [where] I would be mostly remote,” Gill says. “I would work in person a couple of days a month and for bigger events such as manager meetings, awards, and conferences.”
When Gill was exploring Chicago, she looked at everything; a place to live, a roommate, the job market, the best restaurants, and so on. She wanted to make sure all her bases were covered before making the big leap into the unknown because during the times of the pandemic people never knew what would be thrown their way.
Luckily for Gill, her flexibility meant that she could confidently move to Chicago, an unfamiliar city, while continuing to have job stability from Fareway Stores.
In some cases, remote workers have had the chance to move away for new opportunities, while a few have moved closer to their loved ones. For Cassidy Hall, the new and increasing availability of remote work allowed her to move from Phoenix, Arizona to Des Moines, Iowa to be closer to her boyfriend and grandparents.
Hall found how unpredictable the job market can be after she graduated from Arizona State University during the initial height of the pandemic in 2020. Hall’s job search helped her uncover the benefits of remote work.
“There’s so much more flexibility for at-home chores and appointments you need to go to when remote,” Hall says. “And you save money on gas.”
Initially, Hall stayed in the comfort of Phoenix and worked for the state of Arizona as a procurement specialist which is “just a fancier job title for a buyer,” Hall says. But since she wanted to move closer to her boyfriend, who relocated to Iowa after graduation, and her grandparents who have lived in Pleasant Hill their whole lives, Hall kept the remote work possibility in mind as she continued her job search in the Midwestern area. After months of hunting, Hall finally accepted a job at Casey’s in Ankeny, Iowa as a procurement analyst.
“It was tough, [it was] definitely a learning curve but it takes time to get used to a new job,” Hall says.
These were just a couple of examples of both the challenges and opportunities people face when navigating the job market during the pandemic. There was so much more to learn and discover about working remotely. For some, this was a scary change at first, but now they have adapted to remote work and will continue to change with it.
Midwesterners have learned that full or part-time remote jobs can lead to new opportunities and experiences. And, because of these opportunities, they have the ability to think about what their future could be.
“I’ve had many friends turn down jobs that didn’t offer the flexibility,” Gill says. “I’ve seen many people switch to completely remote positions, but I think the future of at least having the option to work remotely will be a non-negotiable for many people.”