4 Career Development Lessons from the Coronavirus Pandemic

Career Development

The impact of Covid-19

This year, the entire world was tremendously shaken out of place. As the news about COVID-19 spread, international tourism was suspended. All companies and organizations had to reimagine their operations completely.

Schools and universities were no exception to the rule. Physical classrooms and lecture halls became still. Hallways were emptied, absent of the usual bustling energy of students. They were now forced to attend classes from home, the most reliant on the internet connection they had been.

Historically, people have emerged from catastrophic events discovering their hidden potential, solving problems in new and unprecedented ways.
Similarly, impactful events (like COVID-19) have many career development lessons to teach us. Here are some professional development tips we can learn from the pandemic.

4 Lessons the Coronavirus Pandemic Has Taught Us

1. Digital skills are essential.

During the early stages of the pandemic, physical interactions had to be significantly reduced to curb the virus’s spread. As schools and offices shut down, it quickly became clear to everyone (from young children to adults) how important it was to know and use technology.
We didn’t know the importance of the technology we had at our disposal, like our computers, smartphones and the internet. Suddenly, these became our primary mode of interacting with each other.

We had to keep up with news and updates. We had to present ideas clearly during meetings and keep our audience engaged and focused. We had to finish our papers and take our tests.
So what does this mean for us, digital natives? With technology already second nature to us, we should continue to develop our knowledge and expertise in this ever-expanding world of technology.

Start exploring computer systems and software, and what we can do with them. Find out about responsible digital citizenship. Take a course on coding, or tinker with some newly developed apps. The more digital skills we have, the more competitive we will be as an employee or entrepreneur. Plus, with all this time at home, we can learn almost anything we want. Just don’t let go of your digital skills!

2. Use The Internet To Your Advantage

During the pandemic, I realized this: there are two types of businesses – those that rely on technology, and those that rely on spaces.

Businesses and companies like Amazon, UberEats, and most tech startups that relied heavily on technology could adapt to change very quickly, and some even thrived. Remote working wasn’t a problem, and they could still stay on task despite the interruption.

On the other hand, organizations which were more physical in nature struggled to stay afloat, with some hotels and restaurants being forced out of business. Their income stream was mainly driven by face-to-face human interactions. Technology played a minor role in those companies.

However, some companies turned to technology and the internet to adapt their business models. Restaurants and supermarkets utilized food delivery apps. Airbnb created Online Experiences. Museums and art galleries hosted virtual tours. They managed to reach wider, international audiences.

Behind all these were the people who had the expertise of digital skills and tech. So, if you can’t continue doing things the physical way, always find ways to solve problems using the internet. The pandemic should not be an end-all for you, but it should challenge you to use the internet to your advantage.

3. Adopt a global mindset

Think about the time when your grandparents were your age. The world they lived in was the world they could see around them. It wasn’t as easy to imagine a day in the life of someone across the world – Instagram didn’t exist yet.

Now, we’re so much more connected to people everywhere. Being connected also means raising our awareness of issues and problems faced by other countries. It means sharing the burden, learning from each other, and coming up with solutions together beyond country borders.

The pandemic was one globally shared experience. Some countries handled it well; others observed how. Let’s take Vietnam, for example. When previously, the country was merely a holiday destination for most people, it had now become a modal example for governments worldwide to effectively deal with the virus.

Nations have a remarkable deal to learn from each other, no matter how different their cultural backgrounds or economic standing. If you can adopt a global mindset, you will find yourself a global citizen capable of reacting productively to problems.

Here are some tips for developing your global mindset. For starters, stay updated on one country’s response to the pandemic via news channels or social media. You might want to chart out the similarities and differences with your country. Then, take it a step further by comparing your interests and career path to someone from a different country. You may find that you have a lot (or nothing) in common!

4. Soft skills make us better teammates

As the pandemic turned the world upside down, people turned to each other. Emotional and mental support could be found in our teammates and classmates who were in the same boat. Our mental health and seeking therapy became destigmatised (in fact, it became a priority). As we stayed home for a record-breaking amount of time, isolation and stress became the main triggers of mental health issues.

We needed the support, and it showed that others needed it too. Through these challenges, we saw many lecturers, co-workers, and classmates let empathy guide their responses. Deadlines were relaxed, and absenteeism was excused – who knew what they were going through? Some of the people in our class could have been single parents, while others in our community could have been frontliners.

During these challenging times, it was the soft skills of empathy, communication as well as teamwork that helped us get through. The pandemic has demonstrated the importance of people skills which are often overlooked and belittled in professional development. Moving forward, how would you add value to those in your personal and professional community?

Shift your mindset towards the importance of mental health and interpersonal skills. Recall your experiences in 2020 and reflect on the soft skills they’ve taught you. Tune in to your mental health and learn from resources provided on YouTube, podcasts, blogs, or therapy/coaching apps. Practise offering support to your family members, classmates or lecturers. These will all count into your team player abilities!

Final thoughts

If you look at it from the big picture, COVID-19 is just another event that humanity has to go through and get up from. World War 2 was the battle of our grandparents’ generation, and although it left them with deep scars, it led to many of the inventions we enjoy today. Diseases and pandemics in the past paved the way for the creation of vaccines which protect us today. With that said, now is the time for our generation to respond to the current pandemic and find solutions for the future generations to come.

The next time you are looking for a job or reviewing your professional skills, remember that you survived a pandemic and learnt how to be a better person from it.

Don’t forget to share this post!



Aubrey i​s a writer and a regular contributor. She writes on topics on job searching and career development in hopes to provide better tips on job hunting and career development.
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