Survival Guide for Young Professionals Today
by Gabrielle Dominique
by Gabrielle Dominique
When I started my first job out of college, I never would have expected my first year of post-grad life to turn out the way it has. I planned on spending my days in a chic office and exploring Washington, D.C. by night. As I write this, I am entering what feels like day 6,000 of being alone in a studio apartment, desperately seeking entertainment from my view of the active construction site across the street.
The majority of COVID-19 resources have focused on more established adults—after all, they’re the ones with kids stuck at home and a mortgage to pay—but young people are facing unique challenges. Recent graduates have watched their life plans and career goals get put on pause or derailed entirely. Job offers are disappearing into thin air, grad school has become an uncertainty as universities weigh their options for the fall, and major post-grad programs, like the Peace Corps and Teach For America, have seen their futures called into question.
COVID-19 has proven that the age-old adage is true: life never goes as planned. Below are a few tips that are helping me over the last few chaotic and unpredictable months, and could help other recent graduates and young professionals as well:
The best way I can describe remotely working during a pandemic is that it feels like going back to school. I feel like I am always “on duty,” my sleeping schedule has nearly reversed, and I am constantly afraid of falling behind. When I graduated, I was happy to leave the high-stress environment behind me and enter a world with boundaries, where work started when I got online and ended when I left the office. The pandemic destroyed those boundaries and left me recalling the survival skills I learned in college:
Set up a workspace area to get your head in the game. In college, midnight trips to the library prevented me from falling asleep while finishing an assignment. Find an area in your home that is comfortable and separated from distractions.
Don’t be too hard on yourself. We are all just trying to make it through. When you face a challenge, keep trying different methods until you find what works for you.
Instead of focusing on what you’re missing out on, think about what you are going to do when things go back to normal. Count your blessings, whether that’s a job, a roof over your head, or a tv show you enjoy. Remember, this is temporary.
After speaking with everyone in my life who will listen about the woes of working from home, I’ve concluded that the best people to call are my friends. When you speak to your colleagues or your parents, every conversation seems to focus on what you could be doing to better manage your situation or your feelings. But my friends have been able to provide me with what I need:
“I know exactly how you feel.”
To me, this reaction is a comforting reminder that although I am locked inside all day, I am still not alone. A reassuring phone call or FaceTime from a friend can give you the energy to finish out the day strong.
Companies are doing their best to make working from home as normal as possible for their employees. However, for someone to be able to help you, you have to know what it is you need help with and be willing to help yourself. Take time every day to do a self-check-in and identify what is keeping you from your full potential. Your job may be “business as usual” but that does not mean that your mind, body, and spirit are at full capacity.
While socially distanced, we need to make a conscious effort to stay healthy. So, be honest with yourself about how you’re feeling. Oftentimes you may be feeling down because of something you can’t control. So, take control of what you can. The next time your manager or neighbor asks you how they can help, you will know what to say.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a rude introduction into adult life, but it has the potential to make our generation stronger. With a few lifestyle and attitude adjustments, we will get through this together. At times motivation, energy, and positivity may be limited, but keep the hope for a brighter future. Our hard work will pay off and we will get the opportunity to make a new plan and accomplish our goals.
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