All the forecasting in the world, did not prepare us for what the pandemic would do to the way we all work, learn, play, and live. But even though 2020 has been a year of disruption, there are many ways in which it has been a year of positive progression.
For each of us to find positive outcomes, we need to change our mindset and adjust to the latest reality and environment. Justin Smith, from Missouri, had to do just that – when his dream job offer fell through. It was an ideal position for his career and personally—as it would have brought him closer to family that live on the east coast. The timing of his onboarding coincided with when the United States went into shutdown mode. Companies all over the world were having to rescind offers or postpone onboarding, plans being crushed in the wake of the health crisis.
“You cannot chase your dreams necessarily [during a pandemic], you have to recalibrate your job expectations in order to find a job in this environment.”
The experience made him realize, “it was not personal, it was a matter of the current reality all companies were facing.” Which meant, he needed to move-on fast and find a job elsewhere, since he was already past his two weeks’ notice to his prior place of work, when they job offer fell through. Though he had maintained good relationships and the hiring manager said they would bring him back, he decided he wanted to continue his search.
This time around, Justin focused his job search close to home, staying within Kansas, as he did not want to worry about relocating during a pandemic. “Locally I had more of an understanding of what they would have to go through to hire me.” Plus, he was intent on keeping it stable for his children and not having to relocate was key this time around.
Justin turned to LinkedIn to investigate companies that were local to his area. He looked at companies that were reputable and still hiring. He researched industries that he knew would be in-demand, as the need for network infrastructure during the pandemic has been vital. When searching he made sure he made a list of things he wanted in his next job, such as job growth options and leadership possibilities.
“You cannot chase your dreams necessarily [during a pandemic], you have to recalibrate your job expectations in order to find a job in this environment.” He focused his search by looking for things he had experiences in and knew he could speak to the requirements. Justin also went back to practicing his interviewing skills, to make sure he was as ready as he could be for the conversations with potential employers. He made sure that he knew what he was willing to compromise on regarding the job position, and what was not negotiable. Being equipped with this introspection was key to the honest conversations he would have with potential employers as well as with his family.
“During job interviews, honesty is superb. One thing you want to remember, when you are honest about what you have done, the right type of job will find you, the right type of people will find you with the skills set.” He was sure to ask how the pandemic would impact the hiring process as well as the job responsibilities. Justin wanted to make sure expectations from both sides were clear, since there was more awareness of how the pandemic would impact the process. Though it took a lot of time and dedication, as well as a positive attitude, he was able to obtain multiple job offers amid the global pandemic. He was ultimately able to find a job that he was excited about and allowed him the career development opportunities he was in search of.
Indirect Path to Networking
For many years, Justin worked as a cable technician, and though he enjoyed the work he knew that ultimately, he needed to add some education to change his career trajectory. His friends told him about obtaining a CCNA certification, so he started off with some self-study. Through his professional network, it enabled him to get into free-lance networking and gain valuable hands-on experience.
Eventually he came across the Networking Academy program and realized that it would help him pursue the career path he wanted. Justin shared that “it taught me to take risks. Because before Networking Academy, I had never considered going to college.” He came from a household where you go to work and learn on the job – so he took a risk trying out courses.
“One of the things that NetAcad helped me with was branching out and not being scared to ask questions. I got to work with a lot of different people. That I had not experienced before. Different diverse people, different knowledge sets, different in their own ways but had common ground of what you like to do. Amazing to see how many people you can have common ground with and lead such different lives.”
A year into the program, he was nominated to be part of a Dream Team that had a project at Cisco Live!. “At that time, I didn’t realize how much weight it would hold. Can give you the confidence to advance in your career, and not be scared to talk to people. There’s a whole world of this that I had no idea about.”
The experiences Justin has had, helped him realize that there is a whole lot to the world of networking. “You do not know until you try. Ask questions, find out what you do not know. What you do not know makes all the difference in where you want to be.”