Working from home is on the rise, and it is causing college graduates to start their careers from the comfort of their homes, rather than in an office. Annie Ashbrook and Hunter Wallace are two Ball State graduates who did just that.
Ashbrook, 2020 Ball State organizational communication studies graduate, worked remotely directly after graduating for SurveyMonkey — now called Momentive — as part of the social media marketing team for seven months.
“I thought that I would probably start working remotely, but then I assumed that it would quickly be [back in person],” Ashbrook said.
Ashbrook said she worked remotely the entire time she was there but wishes she could have been in an office.
“I really missed that feeling of being in person and getting to know your co-workers on a different level than you can on Zoom or Slack or Teams or whatever your company uses,” she said.
In mid-September, Ashbrook said she started working for Illinois Valley High School in Grants Pass, Oregon, as a library and digital media teacher.
“A big reason I took this position actually was because, first of all, I want my career goal to be in education, but also because it’s an in-person position,” she said.
Ashbrook said she enjoys having a more structured work-life balance when working in-person. When she was working remotely, she would work on her couch near the TV, and now, she has to physically go into a different space for work.
“I don’t see my laptop sitting on my desk at 7 p.m. and am like, ‘Oh, I should check my email,’” Ashbrook said. “Now, it’s like, ‘Nope, I’m done — not even looking at it.’”
While Ashbrook said she dislikes working remotely, she understands why so many people are drawn toward it.
Remote work rose 216 percent between 2005 and 2019, according to Global Workplace Analytics, and according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, people who have worked from home for professional and business services increased from 34.1 percent to 59.9 percent from 2019 to 2020.
“Just because it wasn’t my jam, it doesn’t mean it’s not someone else’s jam,” Ashbrook said.
Hunter Wallace graduated from Ball State in spring 2021 with a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science, and he said he enjoys working from home. Wallace works for Conga Composer, a partner service for software company Salesforce that markets customer relationship management. Conga is on a hybrid schedule and allows its workers to choose whether they want to go into the office or stay at home.
“Right now, I'm working from home, but I'm planning to go into the office occasionally here and there just to have better access to better equipment and all that,” Wallace said.
Wallace said he makes sure all the computer codes work properly in the company and works with customers.
With a computer science degree, Wallace knew working from home could be a possibility. His capstone project focused on working with a Muncie-based tech company and was run mostly online due to COVID-19 concerns. He did not meet any of his project members.
“It created a lot of challenges for us,” Wallace said, “but I also think, just as seniors and [people] who are hunting for jobs and doing a lot of different tasks as we're about to graduate, it kind of, weirdly, let us all do a lot more, even though we probably would have performed better together.”
Wallace said he is glad he has the option to work at home and appreciates the opportunities it has given him.
“I personally really like working from home,” he said. “Seeing [people] be more supportive [of working remotely] during the [COVID-19] process definitely kind of made me a little bit more excited and forward-looking into remote work, so it was more of a want but not a need for me.”
Wallace said he believes working from home gives people more self-control and lets them make the most of their time.
“I think the greatest thing is just to appreciate the resources you have,” Wallace said.