College offers new course to learn online employment skills

Laura Beaton
Staff writer


Would you like to earn your living from the comfort of your own home? In a rural community with limited job opportunities, the Internet has the potential to bring work to residents within Plumas County.

Feather River College is offering a new class that teaches the skills to become an independent contractor capable of finding work through online platforms.

Beginning this spring semester, the college will offer an innovative course called BUS 180: Virtual Entrepreneurship with SamaUSA.

By the end of the course, students will have the tools to find work online. Work may include blogging, transcription, customer service, marketing and virtual assistance.


Award-winning enterprise

Samasource, an award-winning nonprofit social enterprise, has five years of expertise giving dignified work to low-income people via the Internet.

Samasource has connected more than 3,700 women and youths globally to earn greater than $3 million in living wages, thereby helping the world’s poor reach their full potential.

Workers pull themselves out of poverty by completing small digital tasks for companies including LinkedIn and Google, through a proprietary online platform, with support from the Rockefeller and MasterCard foundations.

Samasource decided to leverage its anti-poverty expertise and technology to tackle under-resourced communities in the United States.

In September 2011, Samasource announced intentions to expand into the United States at the Clinton Global Initiative. In March 2012, the California Endowment provided Samasource with partial funding to pilot an ambitious digital training program in California: SamaUSA.

SamaUSA Director Tess Posner explained further program developments.

“In early 2013, SamaUSA launched in Bayview Hunters Point, an under-resourced community in San Francisco.

“In its nine months of operation, SamaUSA has trained nearly 100 students in online work and expanded to a second site in Merced in California’s Central Valley. SamaUSA’s graduates are earning thousands of dollars through online work through jobs in customer service, data entry, quality assurance and Web design.

“The students who are earning money through online work are earning significantly higher hourly wages than before entering the program. Students that had nonvirtual jobs upon entering our program reported an average hourly wage of $11.50. SamaUSA graduates have been hired for online contracts averaging an hourly wage of $14.50.


Local partnership

Feather River College has partnered with Samasource to offer the exclusive SamaUSA curriculum to FRC students for credit: the first course of its type offered for credit in the country.

The class will be taught by Amy Schulz, director of Career Technical Education & Economic Workforce Development. Schulz is also the advisor of FRC Enactus.

Posner’s role in the partnership is to support the Feather River team and students to be successful, offer them resources and connections to employers and online work platforms, and track their ongoing impact.

“We really see it as a great partnership and are so thrilled to be working with the FRC team on this,” Posner said. “We feel that online work can help Feather River’s talented and motivated community gain access to a global market of new opportunities and career pathways.”

The 18-week course (CRN 3450) will be held on Thursdays, from 4 to 7 p.m. beginning Jan. 16, 2014. To register call 283-0202, ext. 600.


About SamaUSA

SamaUSA, a program operated under Samasource, helps low-income community college students earn income through online work so they can graduate and forge a pathway out of poverty. The course prepares participants to market themselves on online marketplaces such as oDesk at, Task Rabbit at or Elance at

The course teaches high-demand, market-aligned skills and provides soft skills and digital literacy training required to be successful and competitive in today’s job market.

SamaUSA uses cutting-edge education technology, hands-on coaching, work-based learning and strong partnerships to ensure that students are successful.


Why work online?

According to Samasource, the online work sector grew to an estimated $1 billion in 2012 and currently provides hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Further, the number of online jobs has increased by up to 105 percent year over year and these jobs pay an average of $20 per hour for workers in the United States: 275 percent more than the current federal minimum.

Workers can begin a variety of projects with very basic technical skills, including projects such as transcription, data entry and other administrative support functions.

Enrolling in FRC’s virtual entrepreneurship course with SamaUSA could be your ticket to online employment. To learn more, go to, or call Amy Schulz at 283-0202, ext. 358.

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