Unemployment is the highest it's been since the Great Depression. In these COVID-19 times, people are assessing their careers. Many have been furloughed or laid off. For others, the shift to primarily remote work can open different opportunities, like in another city or state. A commute-free day may lead to an extra two hours to devote to learning. The crisis itself may be grounds for reevaluating life choices.
Let’s see how the pandemic is helping people, including our own Vitamin T talent, rethink their strategies, and find ways to keep growing. This is our new normal and we need to ponder, pivot, and push ahead.
DO SOME FIREPROOFING
Many organizations are faced with downsizing or restructuring the way they do business. Doing more with less or figuring out how to go from 0 to 160 in the world of eCommerce.
Now’s the time to show your boss that you are critical to the operation. Forbes contributor and executive recruiter Jack Kelly says, “Do everything in your power to effectively get things done and become the go-to person when there’s a problem. It’s an aggressive approach, but tough times call for bold actions.”
Vitamin T talent Dave Taylor, a UX and Visual Designer, is doing just that. He’s using the time to expand on his UX and motion graphics skills in Sketch, Adobe XD, and Invision Studio. “I already know these applications, but I’m getting better at them. I’m also learning the corporate lingo that goes along with them,” he says. He’s getting back into Cinema 4D and learning more about wire removal, rotoscoping, and force fields, too. “In UX, it’s pretty much just trying to stay sharp,” Dave explains.
A recent Harvard Business Review article suggests “developing many possible selves.” The idea is that the future remains uncertain, and career exploration isn’t necessarily a linear process, so you may need to try on different hats before you find the one that best suits you. Digital Product Designer and Team Manager Ryan Jude Novelline is uncovering some other sides to himself since the COVID crisis has afforded him some time to catch his breath.
Ryan’s always been interested in 3D painting for themed entertainment (this could mean a real-life experience, like The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort, or the virtual setting created for a video game). “The possibilities are truly limitless with 3D design, but the learning curve is steep for someone like me who never had formal training in this area,” he says. Yet he’s determined to make the leap. “A lot of traditional artists struggled to transition to digital. The next shift was digital 2D to digital 3D. And today we're plowing into VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality)! My goal is to land my feet in VR, literally. I even need to shift from using Mac to PC.”
LOOK WITHIN YOUR TEAM
After looking within yourself, try looking at your team to help you grow during these “Quarantimes.” That’s what Vitamin T talent Tim Hood is doing as a newly appointed Digital Design Director specializing in mobile for a major communications company. While Tim is getting up to speed on his new gig, he’s using his time to learn from those who may already have the answers.
“Ask questions,” he says, “lots of them. I find that when I ask questions at the start of the process, the teams are eager to answer them. They are grateful that I am asking pertinent questions from the beginning rather than creating something that is not possible or we shouldn’t do.”
According to Victor Lipman, a veteran with 25 years in managing Fortune 500 companies, “it's a good thing to get operational insights from the shop floor. When it comes to workflow and process, there are benefits of listening closely to front-line employees. After all, they're the ones who are closest to the actual work.”
When Tim needed to learn more about designing for a more effective AEM (Adobe Experience Manager), he asked his team for advice. “The dev team member I asked writes a blog on this topic and I now read it religiously because my site will be transitioning to AEM within the year,” he tells us.
PIVOT WHEN POSSIBLE
In the wake of COVID-19, we see industries everywhere adapting to our new reality. In New York City, restaurants like Fieldtrip are giving people the option to donate a meal to healthcare workers, which in turn keeps its own staff employed. Dyson started producing ventilators and Absolut Vodka is using its facilities to make hand sanitizer. Individuals, too, are pivoting to keep progressing.
Shari Hiudt, owner of Noteworthy Events, thought 2020 was going to be her biggest year yet before the coronavirus hit. Now, she’s creating driveway parties with a pickup truck DJ booth and non-contact inflatables. Marco Castelanelli, whose wine tasting event company, Club Vino, came to an abrupt stop when the coronavirus came to town. Now, the two-year-old startup sends a home tasting package with themed wine, printable tasting notes with food pairing suggestions, and a video link that explains the story that Marco would have told in person. (Talk about going with the flow.)
KEEP YOUR MONEY
Our talent Ryan, Dave, and Tim agree: there is so much free learning out there if you have the time and inclination (and the current state of the world may be serving up a little more of that than usual).
“My advice is to learn as much as you can from free materials before investing in any new software,” Ryan says. “Also, seek out the advice of professionals who do work that interests you, and see if they already offer any learning materials—many do!”
Dave finds tons of great videos on YouTube, which Tim echoes, along with Lynda.com. And just a friendly reminder slash plug: check out Gymnasium for everything from hour-long offerings to complete course offerings in UX, content creation, design, and development. Tim puts it this way, “Remain relevant. Technology is constantly moving the goalposts on us. If you do not know how to do something do not say ‘no.’ Instead say, ‘Give it to me and I will figure it out.’”