Did you lose your job recently? Maybe it was due to COVID-19. If so, you are not alone, as millions of Americans are out of work as a result of the pandemic. It can be a frightening time and you might feel nervous, anxious, scared, or angry. Rightfully so! These are all normal emotions and they are only made worse due to the uncertainty of the pandemic. When will things get back to normal? When will companies start hiring again? When will you feel safe to go out in public without a mask, hand sanitizer, and social distancing? My advice is not to sit around waiting. Use this downtime as a gift. I know, it’s stressful. You might be living off savings, or have no savings. You might have a family to care for, kids to e-school, or elderly parents to shelter. What should you do?
You can get through this. We can all get through this. Do not panic. Panic, especially if you are caring for others, will make things worse. You don’t want things to be worse than they already are. There’s no such thing as rock bottom. Things could be worse. Be thankful for your health, family, friendships, and whatever else is in your life that is positive. If you take joy in something, do that something. Celebrate life and family. You’ll get through this.
Use this time to make a difference in your life for the better. Make yourself recession-proof. If you make investments in your future, you can limit the potential downsides of another pandemic or crisis. The more you work on self-improvement, the stronger you will become. Your resilience will be what gets you through the next pandemic or emergency.
Talk to someone.
Do you need some help to get through this? It is okay to ask for help. But you need to do it. Help doesn’t always land in your lap. Pick yourself up and go get help. Maybe you need financial help. Maybe you can file for unemployment (visit the website for your state’s unemployment office.) At times like this, you need to pick up the phone. Don’t rely on email or text messages. Pick up the phone and ask for help.
Maybe you’ll be okay financially, as you can lean on friends or family. That’s great – do that! Be sure that you remember to repay the favor in the future, once you are back on your feet. So maybe you just need some emotional support. Speak to someone – anyone! Maybe a spouse, family member, or good friend can help you talk through your emotions and feelings and get you grounded. Or, if you still have health insurance, you might be eligible for a virtual visit with a psychologist who can help you talk through what’s on your mind. It is important to speak to someone. Bottling up your thoughts can create more anxiety, not help it go away.
Explore your options.
I lot of questions we fielded during the last period of high unemployment were related to going back to school. When unemployment and job uncertainty are high, many people often think about waiting out the recession by going back to school. Furthering your education is always a good thing. Perhaps you were let go from a job that you felt wasn’t leading you anywhere. It was just a plain old job. Not a career path. Do you see yourself doing that work for the next 5, 10, or 15 years? If not, maybe you need to return to school and train for a new career.
Career training ahead.
Going back to school doesn’t have to be intimidating, either. I’m not saying you need to go and get a four-year bachelor’s degree in chemistry, or a Ph.D. in astrophysics. If that’s your calling, by all means, do so. However, what I’m talking about is going back and getting specific skills that will help you get a better job than you previously had, and help you build a career that provides you consistent employment opportunities, good benefits, and a better life. All this takes hard work, but it doesn’t necessarily take four years.
You can go back to school full or part-time and earn a degree in allied health in about a year, typically. At a school like IMBC, we offer multiple options, many of which are online, so you don’t have to live near a campus and commute to class each day. You just log in from a laptop (and if you don’t have one, many schools like IMBC may offer you one, if you qualify.) Fields like medical billing, medical records, and medical office administration, all need employees with specific skills that help keep healthcare practices, doctor’s offices, and hospitals running. If you do not care for “blood and guts”, these are great fields for you. You get the benefits of employment in a large field (healthcare), but less exposure to actual patients who are ill, in many cases.
Getting a degree online is a good option if you are e-schooling young children from home during the pandemic, or working part-time odd-jobs to make ends meet. This is because you can complete your work and assignments at various times of the day versus attending class at a specific time. If you need to do school work at 3:00 a.m. or on Sunday afternoons, no problem. Many online programs, like the ones at IMBC, include preparation for certifications in various fields. These are the certifications employers love seeing because it demonstrates that you have the skills they need, even if you don’t have experience in the field.
Another benefit of going back to school to train for a new career is that you’ll have access to the career services department at your school. They can often help you get an internship with an employer to gain experience, and help you prepare for and find a job once you graduate. Many schools will also help you with career services needs long after you graduate.
Bringing it all together.
Take a deep breath. You can get through this period of uncertainty. Use this time to invest in yourself. Consider returning to school part-time to retrain so you can build a career versus bounce from job to job. Above all else, remember that people care about you and that asking for help is okay. Surround yourself by positivity to overcome these challenges in this difficult time. You can succeed.