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Making a Career Pivot Mid-Pandemic

by Maggie Suszka

Countless days spent waking up in bed, working from bed, eating in bed, looping around the same block and doing it all over again for days without end leaves one longing to escape reality. Boredom, inspiration, and the recession are three main culprits for why individuals set out to pursue a new career path amid a pandemic. More importantly, COVID has left us to reevaluate how we measure the successes of our lives, along with our current list of priorities.

Many individuals have been forced to seek new opportunities for bleaker reasons than boredom; the COVID-19 pandemic has left nearly 51 million Americans unemployed or sometimes worse, furloughed. The pandemic has shattered expected professional plans and outcomes globally.

With a sea of people reprioritizing their lives and reimagining their dreams all at once, a shift was becoming evident. People suddenly began switching industries, kicking off their own job hunts or at least imagining how life may look differently. 1 in 4 women are actually considering a new career path as a result of the pandemic, according to a recent MetLife survey. 

And I was one of them.

Working in the increasingly aging industry of advertising, a pinch of fear related to job security sparked my job hunt. When I called my Dad to share I was searching for my next career adventure, I was in disbelief from what I heard from the other end of the phone; pleas and begs to “stay put”, “it was no time to switch things up”. I scoffed. The first string of layoffs within my own agency came a month later.

The pandemic – and accompanying isolation – has allowed time for intense reflection and opportunities to dig deep. I had been with my (now former) employer for nearly 2 and a half years, since the month I graduated college. I was steadily climbing up the corporate chain and was proud of the work I had accomplished thus far. But I was feeling uninspired, increasingly overworked and had no opportunities for what I considered real growth or financial gain in the near future. I discerned what I was looking for; a transition to the tech startup space, a younger and more fast & furious work environment, the chance to work closely on the product side with developers and to continue to tap into my creative side. 

When my mentor (who happened to be my manager and Director of Strategy) and our Executive Creative Director jumped ship one after another at my old agency, I turned to LinkedIn and started blasting out feelers. I came across a job posting that I firmly decided, ‘if I had a quarter of as much fun working here as I did reading it, I would be happy.’ It also checked the boxes of above. 

Making a career pivot mid pandemic is terrifying, but life changing. Consider asking yourself the following questions: 

  • What am I currently missing that I am looking for in my next role?
  • How has the current company (if you’re interviewing) supported their employees during this time of crisis?
  • Are you ready to emotionally, physically and spiritually experience two life-altering events at the same time?
  • Where do you see yourselves in the next 3 or 5 years? Will your next move help you in this direction?
  • The most important of them all: Where do I want to be when I retire? Now work backwards and allow this to inspire your research, networking and interviews you accept! 

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