by Alice Osborne,
From overwhelming uncertainty to embarking on an unexpectedly exciting path
Starting a career has personally been a messy journey of exploration, but it would be silly to expect a perfectly linear process. By doing new and different work with new and different people, I am learning a lot about what brings the best out in me, my preferences and aversions. Here’s what I’ve discovered about career planning during Covid, which could’ve easily taken up 5 pages and 5000 words but sometimes you realise one page and 750 words is enough…
Just want to start by saying (however cheesy) that whether you’re reading this as a student, graduate, young professional or otherwise, take this unprecedented time to experiment, test, and learn. Perhaps, like myself, you’ll find value in the possibility of pursuing a diversity of options as opposed to sticking wholeheartedly to one. Follow ideas regardless of whether they lie in the domain of your desired career and take the road less travelled. You may make surprising discoveries indeed!
Nothing in the pipeline
Prior to the pandemic, I had been attending all of the university career fairs and workshops, searching for a prospective role and employer in preparation for summer graduation. Applications to the big competitive grad schemes in the UK were underway, with a few rejections already received. I quickly realised the job search was extremely time consuming and didn’t want to compromise getting a first class degree classification, so chose to focus on final year work.
When Covid spiked around this time last year, I didn’t have much in the pipeline with regard to prospective employment. The only interview I had been invited to at that stage was for a mis-advertised position as a ‘marketing manager’, later discovered to be a ‘direct marketer’ position as a door-to-door salesman…
Finding my career post-Covid
Prior to the pandemic had envisaged that now I would be working for one of the big four consultancies. In China. It took some time to accept that I was not going to be able to pursue my potential plans work wise and socially, for the rest of the year at the very least. As someone who loves to have a good plan and options, the uncertainty was overwhelming. So I turned my attention proactively to what could be done to put myself in a better place for when the world reopens. Embarking on a very different career path here in Bangkok as the creative lead for a blockchain start up, thought I was just changing current plans to ultimately reach that same long term goal.
Corporate cog turns entrepreneur
For the past six months, I’ve thrown myself into developing technical knowledge about a cutting edge technology, whilst gaining practical knowledge from diverse responsibilities including website design, company branding, case research, original article writing, and social media management. All in the hopes of putting myself in good stead for future endeavours.
One year on with the door to the big four and China still closed, I have gained a completely different perspective of life, employment and working for myself. Where I initially came into my first job viewing it as a placeholder to gain experience to then go onto do those things later, now I find myself doing it the other way round, wanting to be an entrepreneur and explore the digital nomad lifestyle.
Making change my best friend
Since I’ve adapted and embraced the Covid led remote way of working, new doors are popping open left right and centre. With the changing nature of work, I’ve noticed that it’s feasible (and acceptable) not to put all of my eggs in one basket. Through the support of people in my professional network here in Bangkok and abroad, I’ve been able to start exploring my newfound passion for professional writing to help startups craft their narrative and voice. This way of working as a freelance copywriter in my free time certainly wasn’t on my radar prior to these unplanned career experiences.
Never would have thought of pursuing this avenue had I gone into a corporate setting as initially planned. Situations can of course change overnight so will keep my mind open to opportunity. I take comfort in knowing that change is my friend and look forward to continuing on my career path with no set expectations, whilst sat working at a favourite café with a matcha in hand.
Taking the road less travelled
Covid-19 jolted everyone out of their comfort zones, turned well established habitual routines upside down and led us to think deeply about what matters/what is worth pursuing. No matter what stage in life, many people have had to change their career plans. But I hope the topsy turvy journey to start my career in Thailand, amidst a pandemic of all things, shows you there is always opportunity to be found.