5 Tips for Starting a Career in a Pandemic

Adversity is the force that molds highly capable individuals who will go on to shape the professional landscapes in which they operate; something all those beginning careers in the midst of this pandemic should keep in mind. The adaptability you are developing now will serve you well down the road. While there are certainly benefits to working remotely, there are a host of obstacles that those early in their career must overcome. I myself have had to learn the nuances of a professional landscape completely online. Here are six tips I would give to anyone starting their careers remotely.

  1. Get Organized 

If you are just beginning your career, organization and attention to detail are key for professional success. Starting your career remotely can make this difficult, as you can’t just look over your shoulder and clarify something quickly. You have to take the time and make the effort to type out questions for clarification.  Be sure to ask as many questions as you can in the early stages. If you have doubts or second thoughts about something, ask questions. Don’t be afraid to interrupt your coworkers, ask anyway. It is important that you clarify what is expected from you and build a schedule surrounding those expectations early. If you don't, little details will be missed and will slip through the cracks, affecting you as well as your team.Taking time to organize yourself and ask questions will ensure that deadlines are met with quality work and that you become a valuable asset to your clients and your team.

  1.  Be Okay With Not Being OK, at First

Let’s speak candidly, whenever you first start anything new you aren't going to be perfect at it, that is just the nature of things. This is not meant to be a discouraging notion; it is meant to be encouraging. Understand that with dedicated time and repetition you will start to flourish in your role. Do not make the mistakes of negative self talk and wallowing after mistakes, instead understand it as the process that will shape you into a capable professional in your field. Online, it can be difficult to receive critiques as you cannot gauge tone and other nuances of interactions. I know early on, I certainly took some feedback to heart. It is important to understand that this is not meant to hurt you, but rather to build you into a more valuable employee. Acknowledge your mistakes, accept feedback, and move forward with an understanding that it is an important part of your growth. Don’t settle for less, but don’t beat yourself up for being new to a role.

  1. What You Say is How You Say it

If you have studied communications, then you are likely very familiar with Marshall McLuhan’s famous adage “The Medium is the Message” which is to say, the way in which you communicate something is in itself what you are communicating. You’re probably aware that communication over digital technologies is very different from face to face interaction. The emotional nuances and tones, which convey so much to the receiver, are often absent in digital communication. Things can easily be misread and lead to misunderstandings in the workplace, which can lead to challenges in teams. Even a lack of response communicates something. It is important to take the extra time when you craft your responses to ensure that you are properly communicating and avoiding potential misunderstandings. Consider all potential reactions to what you are about to send and if you have doubts, reword or provide clarification, your coworkers will appreciate you for it.

  1. Empower Those Around you

In the midst of this pandemic and working remotely, it can be easy to become so wrapped up in our work, that we forget to recognise and encourage each other. It’s difficult to remain positive sometimes with such adversity hanging over our heads, but it is important not to neglect this vital component of effective teamwork. Not operating in the same space, interactions are farther dispersed, and those moment to moment communications that encourage us are often lost. I know early on I had moments where I wondered if I was doing a good job, or if my work was being noticed and making a difference. When I received positive affirmation from my teammates, it reinvigorated me and allowed me to move forward and put forth my best work. I try to take time and do the same for my coworkers. Empower those around you, it is gratifying to them but also to you. Now more than ever, we need a little extra positivity.

  1. Collaborate, Collaborate, Collaborate

So nice, I said it thrice. When working remotely, it can be easy to lose oneself in daily responsibilities and become isolated from your team. Often, we may only interact when there’s something pressing or urgent. We can easily lose those fundamental social dynamics that make for a cohesive team. This can in turn lead to a breakdown in team dynamic and reduce productivity as a consequence. Whenever possible, make the extra effort to connect and collaborate with your coworkers on a Teams or Zoom call, or schedule a time for a catch up. The social gratification from these interactions and the pooling of skills and ideas will benefit everyone involved on a personal and professional level.  No man or woman is an island, show interest and listen to your coworkers, engage in banter or water cooler talk, foster those meaningful connections that plug you in and make you feel connected to your team. 

  1. Personal Time is not Wasted Time

In order for one to put forth their best work, one must ensure to take measures for self care and preservation. When starting a career from home, it can become difficult to separate work time and personal time, there's no commute to separate these two worlds. It is important to take time for yourself and the things you love in order to emotionally and cognitively stimulate yourself. If you neglect the things that bring your life vitality, it will surely bleed over and show in your job performance. Make sure to create a healthy separation between work time and personal time; take walks, cook, listen to music, read your favourite book series, do that which gives you joy and your professional life will flourish. Make sure to get up and move around, don’t become a hermit trapped in your home office. A change in scenery can reinvigorate your body and mind. I struggled to find this balance early on, but now that I take more self care, I feel more energized and inspired on the job.

I would advise anyone starting a career remotely to keep these six tips in mind. Starting a career remotely has its own set of challenges to overcome, but if you implement these six fundamentals into your work routine, you are sure to overcome and be better for it. Don’t second guess yourself, be confident in your ability and remember to trust the process, good things await you down the line.