Traveling across the country and following in the footsteps of her military family, Amy was living her dream as a Navy hospital corpsman—until she became disabled. Following an exhaustive job search in North Carolina, Amy gave up hope of finding employment—until she found Pearl Interactive Network, Inc.
Amy is a two-year associate with Pearl Interactive Network, a for-profit social enterprise that hires skilled and talent home-based employees with employment challenges. Amy leads a team of virtual administrative assistants on the behalf of a global pharmaceutical company.
“I had no idea how difficult a job search for an administrative position would be,” Amy recalled. “I thought my military experience and the fact that I had a master’s degree would be helpful.”
The combination of leaving the military, the side effects of migraine medications, and an inability to find a job in her field took a toll on Amy’s self-confidence.
“Speaking as a veteran, we have a strong work ethic and a sense of pride about our work,” Amy said. “With no prospects of employment, coupled with the fear of not being able to take care of my family, Pearl provided a welcome relief on so many levels. Most of all, they helped me regain my sense of pride.”
Amy, a chronic migraine sufferer, has attacks that can last three days or more.
“It is not uncommon during a migraine episode to have difficulty lifting my head,” Amy said. “Everything around me makes my head hurt, especially noise and lights.
“Pearl is a fit for my needs and that of my family’s. I have my own office. I am here when my children get home. My job is flexible and I can take care of my kids,” Amy said.
Amy also attributes her supervisors, Owner Merry Korn, and VP of Operations Diane Schrimpf among the reasons she enjoys her job.
“Diane and Merry both are constantly giving feedback, and that’s important. They’re good at what they do and they take care of their employees. If something doesn’t go right or I need advice I go to Diane,” Amy, who is a home-based administrative assistant, said.
Pearl Interactive Network provides outsourced call center, administrative, and IT help desk services to companies such as Pfizer by hiring people with disabilities, service-disabled veterans, and other workers with challenges. “People with disabilities are discriminated against. Employers just don’t know how to hire them,” says founder Merry Korn.
Her employees work from home, eliminating the difficulty that many disabled people face getting to work. Korn employs 18 people working on five permanent contracts for clients, but she expects to employ hundreds as Pearl Interactive moves into serving federal agencies as well as the private sector. While the company is ostensibly an outsourcing firm, Korn says the heart of the business is workforce development. “What I really do is take a workforce of people who have incredible challenges and I create jobs for them,” she says. Korn is now being approached by economic developers in rural Appalachian communities to see how her model of outsourced call center, administrative, and IT help desk services could create jobs there.