CAREER

Finding a New Direction in Times of Global Standstill

By Marina Chilingaryan

In times of uncertainty, it may often seem like everything is out of our control. The pandemic has brought the entire world to a standstill today is no exception. It’s impossible to predict — let alone plan for — the future when there is a “new normal” every day. While we can’t control the external and overwhelming circumstances, we can control how we choose to go about it.

When it comes to personal or professional growth, most people rely on external factors – like external events or networking coffees- to drive their success in career-building and network development.

While the pandemic has taken away in-person opportunities for the moment, there is a silver lining to the current situation — and that is the extra time we get to step back and turn our explorations inwards, focusing on shifting our mindset of growth and development.

Learn, create, share

With the extra time that comes with staying at home, there are many purposeful ways of using it.

Learn a new language — or brush up on one that you have learned before. Create a proposal for the company you have been dreaming of working for. Learn a new digital tool, such as Tableau for data visualization or any application from the Adobe Creative Cloud for graphic design. Or build a new website to showcase your personality and achievements using templates from Squarespace or Carrd.co.

Use this as a moment to showcase your work and achievements. Post more on LinkedIn or other social networks, and be authentic — because extra time also means that people will be more interconnected in the digital space than ever before and will notice your creative approach to self-improvement.

Keep in touch – and be human

Now is the best time to tap into your current network and rekindle some of the connections that you haven’t followed up on in a long time. While the situation we currently find ourselves in is hard and deeply personal to each time, it creates the opportunity to show the caring, genuine side of you and check in with people who have or could be helpful in guiding your development and growth.

Even when it comes to outreach to people you don’t know, now is the best time to add that extra layer of authenticity and humanity to your messaging. Believe it or not, the pandemic affects everyone around the world — and now more than ever, people are more open to connecting.

So, be bold. Keep reaching out. But also, be mindful and sensitive of the hardship people might be facing and let honesty and care define your voice in writing.

Tap into new and thriving industries

When it seems every single industry has taken a hard hit due to the current situation, think twice.

If you look closely, you’ll discover industries and specific companies that are growing rapidly under the current conditions and also offering significant benefits to society. Streaming services like Spotify or Netflix have been “accompanying” their users on their quarantine journeys. In addition, healthcare companies are fighting in full force to support the world — and they need all the manpower they can get.

From my perspective, companies that are succeeding now are companies that do everything possible to keep a constant flow of communication with their users and customers by providing updates, showing care, and delivering value in unprecedented times.

Everyone would benefit from looking closer at those companies and industries and learning how they’re thriving by being quick, innovative and people-first. If you’re looking to make a job change, there could also be new roles or opportunities popping up within those companies – so it could be a moment to pivot.

Embrace everything digital

With the digital space becoming the new “normal” interaction space, it’s important to embrace and adapt to the new standards of life and work. The ability to quickly adopt and become an expert on new technologies is another skill that’s becoming more and more valuable to companies.

Begin by building a strong digital presence. Create a compelling LinkedIn profile by sharing interesting and relevant content. Build a personal website and curate social media pages that will reflect all the new skills you develop with the extra time in your hands. This is your chance to share who you are and what your personal brand stands for.

Finally, embrace video chats by engaging in virtual projects and hangouts — whether it’s for a job, a passion project, a class or an informational interview you have successfully secured. You may see this skill become useful in the future — whether it will be at a more digital company or a remote position you take on that connects employees globally.

Focus on what you can control

At the end of the day, no one knows — or controls — what the world will look like in the future. But what you can always control is how you choose to adapt to changes, thrive in new settings, and develop agility in this ever-changing world.

So, get comfortable with the uncomfortable and embrace the unknown.

Master's Student, Strategic Communicaiton at Columbia University

Marina is a master's student in Strategic Communication at Columbia University where she is pursuing her passion for storytelling, writing and branding. Prior to this, Marina worked at a Silicon Valley startup, leading the marketing department, and acted as the Assistant Editor at SOMA Magazine, San Francisco's iconic culture and lifestyle publication. Marina has been involved in NYWICI since 2019 and is part of the Young Professional Committee.

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