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Why Would Anyone Want To Work In Rural Areas?

Why Would Anyone Want To Work In Rural Areas?

When people imagine rural areas, they think farms, cute cottages, and a laid back lifestyle.

While these are mostly true, rural areas around the world have plenty of benefits that some folks fail to acknowledge. Whenever the topic of moving or living there arises, they would usually worry about education, healthcare, and culture. This is especially true for those who want to start a family.

Millennials, in particular, have been known to move away from rural areas to urban landscapes. This exodus is mainly driven by the need for further education, employment opportunities, and personal motivations (i.e. live a dynamic, fast-paced lifestyle like their peers).

But lately, it seems the young generation is on the move again – this time, towards the suburban and rural areas.

Why the change of heart?

Benefits of Living/Working In Rural Areas

Did you know that 90 percent of the United States land mass is made up of rural and suburban areas?

According to U.S. Census Bureau, rural areas are those that “encompass all population, housing, and territory not included within an urban area.”

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Technically, anything that’s NOT urban (i.e. open spaces, forests, farmlands, areas with less than 2,500 residents) is rural. But it’s not a perfect definition. However, two main factors affect an area’s definition of being ‘rural’: commute and housing density. This definition could also vary in other parts of the world.

As a millennial who was born and raised in the bustling city, living with my mother in Eibelstadt was a huge change. Although they’re not exactly rural, they are a small town of roughly 3,000 residents (as of December 2015).

eibelstadt
    Author’s Own, Some Rights Reserved.

    One of the first things I noticed was that there is more of the older generation than younger ones (especially those my age). Buildings and houses dated as far back as the 16th century (which is awesome). Nights were definitely quieter, and people more or less knew one another. They would smile or wave hello whenever we passed each other in the streets.

    The best part, though, is the small local businesses. From furniture shops, boutiques, apothecaries, to little grocery shops, it feels like stepping back to a time when living was simple and money wasn’t a big issue. The very low crime rate made me feel safe to take evening walks alone or with the family dog.

    But it’s not just me who thinks rural areas could be great places to work or settle in.

    1. Rural areas provide fewer distractions.

    Several researches have pointed to the benefits of being so close to greenery, peace, and quiet. One of the best things about living in smaller towns is that there are fewer things that need to occupy your time – and mind.

    One research shows how crowded streets (which are a common sight in urban landscapes) affect memory retention. With so many stimuli (e.g. speeding cars, people walking, stereos blasting, etc.), our brains can only focus on it for a limited amount of time until it needs to process another set of information.

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    But in rural settings, you’ll be able to focus on ONE thing at a time. This keeps you productive. There’s also the benefit of silence. According to a 2013 study, silence can help the brain generate new neurons. During silence, it’s also a time when your brain can analyze its internal and external surroundings.

    2. You can experience better work/life balance in rural areas.

    In one study, it was found that people who lived near green regions had lower rates of psychological disorders, compared to their urban counterparts. Participants of the study also reported relief from sadness and depression.

    The more things you think or worry about, the more stressed you feel. Who can focus on relaxing when you’re still worried about that email or a call from your boss? Rural areas are perfect for trying to achieve the elusive work/life balance.

    Feeling stressed? Just put on a coat and stroll your worries away. Need to be productive? Choose a quiet spot in your home and get to work. Craving for some alone time? A hike in the woods or mountain should replenish your soul. Interested in a little socializing? Just visit local bars or a community center to meet someone new.

    Surprisingly, the slower pace of life in small towns can help you reconnect with what matters most.

    3. Lower cost of living.

    Don’t be fooled: just because Eibelstadt boasts of only 3,000 people, it doesn’t mean that they’re not thriving. Contrary to what many believe, these beautiful communities contain flourishing businesses that include furniture makers, crafts masters, wine experts, boutique hotels, salons, and architecture firms.

    eibelstadt
      Author’s Own, Some Rights Reserved.

      In Eibelstadt’s case, it was thanks to their prosperous wine businesses that lured tourists far and wide for a visit, particularly during the summer. This, along with the town’s gorgeous sceneries, helped to make them a lucrative option for millennials like myself.

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      But unlike living in busy cities like Paris or Berlin, the cost of living in small towns is lower. Grocery shopping can be done easily from farmers’ markets. Need new plates or some antique table cloths for your home? Try yard and garage sales, where a dollar can go a long way. If you love unique, arty items, look out for local artisans and their amazing crafts.

      What Jobs Can You Get In Rural Areas?

      These reasons are well and good – but NOT enough to convince people to go ‘rural’.

      After all, many amenities are few and far in between. For instance, my mother and I needed to drive a couple of miles twice a month for groceries. Although there was a store not far from our home, the big shops are located elsewhere. This taught us how to budget out time and resources though, so it wasn’t that bad.

      But perhaps the biggest hurdle for anyone who wants to live in rural areas is employment. What jobs can you get in the countryside? Are there even good jobs?

      Lucky for us millennials, we were born in a time when technological advances were quickly being developed. These days, making passive income is the norm. Below are a couple of suggestions for jobs you can do if you decide to live in a rural area:

      • Remote Work – even folks from cities opt for remote work. This gives you the freedom to work from anywhere while letting you earn a paycheck. You can be a consultant, web designer, developer, graphic artist, or writer. Try sites like Flex Jobs and Remote OK.io for a list of remote work options today.
      • Arts and Crafts – are you good with your hands? Lots of artists, craftsmen, and hobbyists try their luck at selling their wares either locally or online. If you feel ready to expand your horizons, check out platforms like Etsy or Shopify.
      • Gardening/Farming/Livestock – while this won’t make you a billionaire in two years (or a decade even), it’s a great way to feed yourself, your family, and your community.

      If you already have a small farm of a few acres or so, you can begin with some vegetables and livestock. Then you can choose to expand from there. What better way to eat food than to know you grew it yourself? Plus, there are farmers’ markets and restaurants that could be your loyal customers given the chance.

      eibelstadt
        Author’s Own, Some Rights Reserved.
        • Photography/Writing – this is similar to remote work. There are plenty of businesses in need of professional images and content. If you have the talent for it, you can promote your work online. You can also find employment in small local companies, such as local newspapers.
        • Teaching/Consulting – for those who are thinking or moving to rural areas near their retirement, becoming a teacher or consultant is a great way to earn income while sharing your knowledge. Start profiling your future settlement for opportunities in these areas.

        Are they in need of your kind of skills and work experience? What are the requirements? Who would be your potential students or clients?

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        As most work these days need a bit of computer literacy, it’s wise to invest in courses if you’re not so tech-savvy. Visit your community center to inquire about classes.

        Ready for Rural Living?

        Okay, so maybe not – yet.

        But imagine waking up to just the right rays of sunlight through your open window. The birds and bees outside your garden, beckoning you to join them. I personally love taking in the silence first thing in the morning, with a strong cup of coffee.

        Rural areas, like cities and the suburbans, have their pros and cons. Ultimately, it’s up to YOU to decide where you’d work and settle in.

        Featured photo credit: Ana Madeleine Uribe/Pexels.com via pexels.com

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        Cris Antonio

        Content Strategist, Storyteller

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        Published on September 16, 2020

        12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

        12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

        Today, with many companies going remote—at least until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine—technical proficiency is a vital skill for every interviewee to master. You may be asked to interview for a job on Zoom or Microsoft Teams. The way you handle yourself in the online interview (your interview skills) will say much about your ability to work from home efficiently.

        Does your workspace look clean or cluttered? Is the area free from noise? Is your home office well lit?

        Once hired, you may be asked to organize meetings on Zoom and other platforms. Along with mastering the technology, you will have to learn to follow certain protocols.

        Now is the time to get up to speed on your technical skills. Learn which interview skills are needed for the particular job for which you are applying and practice them.

        Online learning sites, such as LinkedIn Learning and Udemy, offer courses for free or a nominal membership fee. If you are a DIY type, make use of training videos offered through your particular digital tools.

        Additionally, demonstrating that you have these 12 interview skills will help you land your dream job.

        1. Organization

        When you work in a brick-and-mortar office, some of the organizing is left to others. Your direct supervisor may host a Monday morning quarterback meeting where each worker reports on the progress on their tasks.

        When you work from home, much of the organizing will be left up to you. To a much greater extent than before, you will need to develop a schedule and stick to it. Some tasks may be faster to complete from your home office where you don’t have other workers competing for your attention.

        Conversely, you may find that some tasks that would have gone quickly in an office seem to take forever from your home computer. Your phone may ring a lot, which can distract you, or you may have kids and a spouse who inadvertently disrupt your schedule.

        To do: Set a schedule and stick to it.

        To discuss during your interview: Be specific. Point to the interview skill you utilized to create a schedule for a complex work project and followed it.

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        2. Flexibility

        You set a schedule for the completion of your tasks, but your prospective boss gets their work done between the hours of 2:00 and 8:00 a.m. Your West Coast partners are three hours behind your East Coast partners, and one of your partners lives in England while another lives in Australia.

        Feedback and collaboration (see point 3) may need to happen asynchronously. Be the flexible candidate—the person who is willing to occasionally disrupt their schedule for the greater good of the team.

        For extra credit: don’t just look up time zones, look up whether they observe Daylight Savings Time.

        To do: Be flexible about meeting times.

        To discuss during your interview: Highlight a time when you worked on a team where members lived in different time zones. Discuss your processes.

        3. Collaboration

        As recently as six months ago, before the pandemic raged around the world, collaboration wasn’t quite as essential as it is today. In a remote office setting, collaboration doesn’t just mean working well with others—but actually sharing documents and editing them online on time.

        Several cloud-based tools, such as Google Drive, Basecamp, and Trello, enable the type of collaborative teamwork that most companies want today.

        To do: Download the correct software and practice using it.

        To discuss during your interview: Discuss how you worked remotely with a group. Share how you overcame certain challenges.

        4. Poise

        Murphy’s Law states, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

        When things do go awry, keeping your wits about you will demonstrate your consummate professionalism under fire. This will show your future bosses that you will be able to work well under the pressures of remote work.

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        What could go wrong, you ask? You might be muted without realizing it—your Internet connection may not be robust, your headphones may blip out, your cellphone may ring, Zoom could have an outage. The list goes on and on.

        To do: Make sure you have the most up-to-date versions of Skype and Zoom uploaded.

        To discuss during your interview: Consider highlighting a time when a project did not go as planned. Demonstrate the interview skills that allowed you to rise to the challenge.

        5. Communication

        Your ability to handle online communication is one of the top critical skills you will need to thrive in today’s remote workplace. Download Slack if you haven’t already. Get used to toggling to a different form of online communication if one of your tools fails.

        When it comes to the preferred format for your online interview, demonstrate proficiency by offering several different options. Give your phone number, Google Chat Hangouts name, and Skype ID.

        To do: Familiarize yourself with video conference and online chat tools, such as Slack, Fleep, or Workplace by Facebook.

        To discuss during your interview: Be prepared to share the online communication tools you’re using and examples of how you use each one.

        6. Good Computer Hygiene

        Setting up a backup system for your computer files is one of today’s crucial requirements for working in the digital age. Storing documents that can be shared by team members is also an efficient way to work together on presentations, articles, and reports—although studies show nearly one-third of employees avoid them because of the time it takes to find documents.

        Be prepared in your interview to indicate your experience utilizing this technology, describing how you organize and store files using cloud-based collaboration tools. How do you keep track of links and tabs? Do you use Dropbox? Google Docs? Confluence? Others?

        To do: Take inventory of the cloud-based document sharing and storage systems you know and use.

        To discuss during your interview: Describe the document sharing tools and backup systems you utilize—both for personal protection and professional file sharing.

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        7. Proper Meeting Etiquette

        Today, presenting yourself virtually has its pros and cons. While you only have to show a professional persona from the waist up (make sure to straighten up your office space behind you), you must boost your energy to show that you’re engaged in the discussion.

        Make your voice as upbeat as possible. Have your talking points at the ready and be careful not to ramble on, as long virtual meetings easily become tiresome. Use the mute and chat features to avoid interruptions.

        To do: Once you know the meeting platform, make sure you have it mastered before your interview.

        To discuss during your interview: Offer to share your screen to show an example of a work project— while at the same time demonstrating your prowess with video conferencing tools.

        8. Respecting Feedback

        In the age of working remotely, there may not be as many systems in place to obtain feedback (such as yearly performance reviews). Workers may need to ask for feedback, while managers may need to give more feedback than usual as the team adjusts to working off-site. Respecting feedback is on top of the interview skills list that you should learn.

        Taking a proactive approach with giving and receiving feedback and incorporating it into your work style is a desirable quality that your employers will note.

        To do: Reflect on the positive feedback you’ve received from past employers to bolster your confidence.

        To discuss during your interview: Share a time when you received feedback that made you grow in the job. If you’re a manager, share a time when you gave feedback to an employee who needed to better their job performance.

        9. Project Management

        Staying on task with projects has evolved far past a to-do list, with electronic tools that can track time, manage team workloads, and even do the client billing. While your prospective employer may have its preferred project management program, your experience with any of the various options—whether it’s Basecamp, Teamwork, Smartsheet, or another—will be applicable.

        To do: Know which project management software is likely to be used by the industry in which you’re interviewing, and familiarize yourself with its features.

        To discuss during your interview: Highlight a project management feature that is particularly useful in helping you excel in your work, and explain how you utilize it.

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        10. Staying up to Speed

        Employers expect their remote workers to be technically proficient so that technology runs smoothly and doesn’t create work disruptions. Bosses count on remote workers to know enough about their systems to manage them without relying on the help of overworked IT staff.

        To do: Make sure you have a fast internet connection and have a back-up plan, such as a second computer or other tethered devices.

        To discuss during your interview: Note that you are diligent about keeping your computer and software up to date.

        11. Attention to Cybersecurity Issues

        “Virus” is a loaded term these days. Spreading a computer virus in your company, however, will not only bring productivity to a halt, but it will also make you a pariah. While working from public places using free Wi-Fi (with uneven security provisions) has waned, in pre-pandemic times, coffee shops accounted for 62 percent of Wi-Fi security breaches.

        To do: Keep antivirus software updated and don’t download software without verifying its authenticity.

        To discuss during your interview: Emphasize your awareness of cybersecurity risks and your care in taking necessary safety measures.

        12. Teamwork

        Work relationships now mostly happen in virtual settings, yet employers value team-oriented workers.

        Being a part of a team gives you a sense of connection and shared purpose. A well-honed team understands how mutual reliance makes the sum of its parts greater than when individuals act on their own, improving the end product.

        To do: Take stock of your attributes as a team player and where you can cultivate skills that will enable you to work more collaboratively.

        To discuss during your interview: Inquire about the company’s culture and how it encourages a sense of community despite working remotely.

        Final Thoughts

        Preparing for remote positions available in today’s job market will mean honing your interview skills to highlight your technical abilities as well as your adaptability. By adhering to these To-Do’s and perfecting your online interview skills and charisma, you will rise above the competition and win over any prospective employer.

        More Tips to Improve Your Interview Skills

        Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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