Do What You Can, Now
14 April 2020
Many of us are focused on getting through the right-now and are not mapping our long-term career paths. But many of us, whether we’re working or not, have more time to think about the next steps. When this terrible moment passes, will you be happy with how you used your newfound free time?
Sometimes free time is forced upon us, like during a pandemic. Or during one of the many past recessions, which will always return, like clockwork. I was walking my pug-beagle mutt Harry with my neighbor Maggie and her energetic Boston Terrier puppy, Seamus (many feet away from each other!) when we got to talking about how those who seize this awful moment, career-wise, will come out in a better position.
Maggie came to the USA from Ireland as a nanny 40 years ago and put herself through college. Ten years into a blossoming human resources career, the recession of the early 90’s hit. She was given a choice from her employer: Take a chance and stay with the company, with a bleak business outlook, or voluntarily resign and her employer will pay for her continuing education. Maggie said, “I left immediately and took every college course I could on how to use computers. Not computer coding mind you, just using software and the burgeoning world wide web.”
When Maggie completed her courses, a whole new world opened up. It was 1992, using software and navigating the Internet effectively was not a requirement, it was a differentiator for a thirty-something seasoned HR pro. Her new skills, paired with great relationship-building, led to her senior role today at one of world’s top consulting firms.
I asked Maggie if she has career advice for people during this pandemic. “I grew up in Southern Ireland on a dairy farm. It was a great childhood but brutally hard work, so I took risks to do something else, anything else. Every few years, I got batted down but I remained committed to learning and moving forward. So, I would tell everyone to find out what you can do and control now to further yourself. Then do that.”