Changing Jobs During Changing Times

The coronavirus has had a huge impact on our lives and it has changed the way we work in really significant ways. So what if you find yourself starting a new job during this strange time? Two of our WBC members have found themselves in just that situation, so we asked them to share a bit about their experiences. 

Kimmy Venter started a new job as Director of Communications for Ronald McDonald House Charities® of the Capital Region in late April.  

I truly never expected to make a change like this in the middle of a pandemic, but so far it’s been a really positive experience. The conditions were certainly not ideal to start a new job with a completely new team of people I wouldn’t be able to meet in person. Luckily, my new colleagues have been extremely warm and welcoming and we’re finding lots of ways to make remote connections right now. 

Before my first day “on the job” I came across this article which offers some great advice: https://www.themuse.com/advice/starting-new-job-remotely-coronavirus. Now that I’m more than a month into my new role, I think I can safely say that all the tips about communication are key. 

The article recommends learning how your team communicates. More specifically, I’d say learn how your team communicates during quarantine! In my last job, people were spread across multiple locations, so technology was a key part of communicating even before the coronavirus. In my new role, I’m part of a very small team of staff who usually work together in person from the same place every day. During normal times, I imagine there’s not a huge need for group chats, video conferences or even lengthy email chains, because the people who need to connect with each other have ample opportunity to do so face to face.  

Obviously, things are different in quarantine. I’m learning how my new team communicates under the circumstances. And I’m doing my best to share some of the tools that have worked for me in the past to help make this easier for all of us. That said, I expect to have a whole new set of norms to learn when I finally get to join my new team in person full time. I don’t know exactly when that will be, but I am definitely looking forward to it! 

Emily Dessingue started a new job as the Regional Philanthropy Officer for the American Red Cross of Eastern New York in the beginning of June. 

Similar to Kimmy’s answer, I never thought I would be switching careers in the middle of the pandemic, but I saw this as a huge learning opportunity.  

I believe 2020 has been the ultimate year for problem solving. We’ve had to quickly transition our lives, while trying to keep everything afloat and running smoothly. Admittedly, I was nervous to start a new career because I’m a hands-on learner, and now I was going to have to learn everything virtually. 

Luckily, the American Red Cross has done a wonderful job with making me feel comfortable and supported, given the circumstances. Our Chief Development Officer constantly tells our staff ‘don’t suffer in silence” and “don’t feel like you’re alone on an island.” I found that to be impactful because a person can easily feel frustrated, overwhelmed, or defeated when learning something completely new online. So, my advice is to constantly ask questions, do things in repetition, reach out for help and most importantly, be patient with yourself. You’re not going to learn everything in a day, week, or probably not even in a few months, but always try your best, have open communication and be a problem solver.  

Author: Kimmy Venter & Emily Dessingue

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