Networking in the Age of COVID-19

I think we can all agree that it’s not a good time to be looking for a job. Openings have disappeared from job boards, and many companies are laying off employees, not looking for new ones. However, if you’re looking for work there are still options out there for you. Though I have struggled to find interviews, I have been working to widen my network and adapt my skills during this time.

I used my university’s online job board to find people with similar career backgrounds to my own interests. You can also search for fellow alums using keywords on Linkedin. After finding connections, I reached out to these people, expressing interest in their careers and asking if they had any advice to offer.

One connection was particularly helpful, helping me to get in contact with important people in a field I am interested in–higher education development. Through her, I set up a call with a professional who had a plethora of advice to offer on the skills I would need to learn to be successful in this field. Many universities currently have hiring freezes, but this contact promised to stay in touch once future roles opened up. She also suggested that I become certified in Grant Writing through online courses, using my extra time to gain an important skill.

Websites like Handshake and job boards from your alma mater are great resources for this type of networking. You can also try to reach out to connections at the career services office at your college, or try larger networking sites like Linkedin, or, if you’re looking to network with other women, sites like Girlboss. Use this time to gain new academic and professional skills, as well as to grow your portfolio or online presence. Eventually, the work you do now will lead to a job.

Advertisements

Why it Helps to Have “Range”

Every so often, there comes around a new career book that disrupts everything we’ve commonly held to be true. Take the highly popular Grit by Angela Duckworth, that helped to dismantle beliefs in inherent skill and genius, and instead placed emphasis on the importance of effort, coining the term “grit” and starting a movement. Or Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, which similarly examined the circumstances, not inherent genius, that contributed to success, turning our conceptions of billionaires and historical figures on their heads.

David Epstein’s Range looks at the importance of what, and how much, we focus on. It criticizes a one-track pathway, and instead looks at the ways in which having a range of skills helps people to succeed. Range explores this through a variety of case studies–initially following a comparison between the training of Tiger Woods and tennis player Roger Federer. Like the books that came before it, Range also dismantles what we have commonly held to be true and/or good–that being the best in one specific pursuit is something to brag about and tout. Instead, it is increasingly more helpful to have a variety of skills. In science, education, etc., this helps people be more prepared for the problems they have to tackle.

I really enjoyed Range, and it provided me with helpful advice as I continue to develop my own skills and plan on entering the work force. I found it to be written in a straightforward, conversational, and easy to read way. The case studies and experiments outlined in the book were interesting and clear to follow. I highly recommend this to anyone interested in the subject of skill and anyone looking to examine their own “range”.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

How Joining Groups on Meetup.com can Improve your Professional and Personal Skills

Why join?

In my adventures after college graduation, I needed something to fill my time both socially and productively. I had heard a lot about the meetup.com app and website where users can create groups and events, and decided to give it a try. I completed an account and took a look at the events in my area. In the central New Jersey area where I live, there were a lot of hiking clubs. This is where I started.

two person walking towards mountain covered with snow

Immediately, Meetup provided me with a way to explore my hometown and home area in a completely new way. I was introduced to people and trails that I had never heard of before. Thanks to Meetup, I found plenty of new hiking areas around me. This helped me get outside and active, but also become more social.

What does Meetup have to offer?

Each group I joined introduced me to even more groups. From my first hiking club, one specifically for 20s and 30s members in my area, I met a woman who also ran a book club that met at a local Panera. It did not take long for me, a long-running book devourer, to join. One Tuesday a month, we met to discuss new books, typically fiction that spoke to the female, 20s and 30s audience. Many of them ended up being from Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club.

people tossing their clear wine glasses

Another club I joined was called the “Wining Women”, ha ha. It was a group of women in their twenties and thirties who go together to drink wine or hang out at other fun events like bowling alleys and axe throwing. My first event in this club was at SM23, a hidden gem of a cocktail bar in Morristown, NJ. We shared stories of work, listened to music, and got creative drinks at the funky bar.

Through my book club I was introduced to yet another book club, this one a more personal theme–each month, we met at a member’s house, and each participant was charged with bringing a home-cooked dish relating to a chosen theme. We brought “food that reminds you of the water,” for Where the Crawdads Sing, and “southern food” for the Georgia-set An American Marriage. Our conversations hit deep into the meanings of the books, and friendships were forged. This club even inspired an article that I wrote for The Attic on Eighth about pairing books with food.

What does this have to do with a career?

All of these clubs have provided opportunities not only for friendship but networking and professional development, as well. I gained contacts in fields that I was looking for jobs in, particularly higher education and publishing, and receiving great help on applications from the willing and selfless new friends. They also inspired me to get outside, and gave me a schedule to make up for a lack in productive use of time.

I enjoyed these clubs so much that I have since started my own in a way. I have begun teaching basic knitting skills to members of my original book club. This is something that has, as well, encouraged me to break out of my shell and taught me valuable skills.

Have you ever tried meetup.com? What did you think?