By M.E. Fine
I recently interviewed former JCS client, Serena (not her real name), who was hired this summer as a COVID-19 Contact Tracer with Baltimore County. Serena graciously shared insights about this important community service and provided general information regarding working remotely.
Can you describe what a Contact Tracer does?
I work from home — contacting people (by phone and email) who have tested positive with COVID-19. I provide them with information and advice to help minimize exposure to others and to keep them and their families healthy.
What were the steps involved in obtaining the position?
JCS made me aware of the free contact tracer course at CCBC this past spring and the job listing with Baltimore County. I took the class, which was the prerequisite for the position, and then applied without hesitation. Two months later, I received an offer.
Can you describe what it has been like to work remotely from home?
It frankly takes some getting used to — particularly starting in a new position and role. For one, you do not have the feedback from other workers around you. At times, you need to quickly improvise.
Also, you may not have resources that you take for granted while working in a traditional office environment like office supplies, shredders, a technology help desk, etc. When you work remotely at home and alone, it all falls on you.
Do you have any suggestions or advice for others seeking remote employment?
If you want to work remotely, you must have reliable internet service, particularly if it is a time-sensitive position like Contact Tracing. Also, it is preferable that you have strong technology and internet skills.
Specifically, I would encourage job seekers to be current and highly proficient in Microsoft Office Suites, as well as Google Suites. And your skills can not be just knowledgeable or average. If you want to compete in the current job market, your computer skills should be exceptional!
What would you recommend for jobseekers interested in improving or refining their skills?
There are currently so many great online training resources. There is LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda.com) which is available free for one month on LinkedIn or available free through the Baltimore County Public Library portal with your library card number. Additionally, the Enoch Pratt Library has the LearningExpress Library for basic skills, which is always available for no cost, and you can take the courses at your own pace on your computer.
What have you learned from this experience?
I talk to people of every race and financial demographic, people from different countries who require translators, the sick, quarantined family members of those who have been exposed to the virus, health professionals and students.
People deserve to be treated with dignity and kindness, listened to with patience and real interest. My clients bring out the ability in me to be a better, more compassionate person.
Thank you for your service, and do you have any final words?
I wish everyone good health!
M.E. Fine is an Account Representative for the Ignite Career Center of JCS.
Whether you are new to the job market or a seasoned professional, the Ignite Career Center, a program of Jewish Community Services, can help you go further and get there faster. Our highly experienced Career Coaches provide individuals of all backgrounds and abilities with the customized services and tools they need to stand out from the competition. For information, call 410-466-9200 or visit ignitecareercenter.com.