The Challenges of Pursuing Career Development During COVID-19

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There’s no doubt that 2020 hasn’t looked the way we expected when we rang in the new year. However, that doesn’t mean all of your goals have to be set aside. It’s certainly a different world, but it’s still one where you can grow and progress in your career.

The challenge is finding the right opportunities. Discovering high-quality educational and developmental opportunities in this new environment isn’t easy. Fortunately, many organizations have adapted to COVID-19, and there are a variety of options available.

Here are some ideas you can use to pursue career training and development, even as you’re mostly stuck at home during COVID-19.

Determine What Options are Best for You

As we close out 2020, most learning opportunities are still remote. You’ll have access to video classes and online reading. For some professionals, that works well. However, not every learning style is well-suited for remote education.

Think about your style and preferences. Are you someone who can enjoy remote learning, or would you do better waiting until in-person classes and events are available? You know yourself better than anyone, and there’s no wrong answer.

Also, think about what your specific goals are. Are you looking to earn a particular accreditation? Do you want to finish your degree? Are you hoping to achieve an advanced degree, like an MBA or a Ph.D.? 

Depending on your position and career aspirations, you’ll have different aims. The answers to these questions will help you decide where to study, what institution to work with, and more.

Think About Learning Specific Skills

If a wholesale return to school doesn’t make sense for you, consider which individual skills you might enjoy learning. These can be for your personal benefit or to advance your career. Maybe the subjects you choose will do both!

Learning web design and other graphics skills can help you advance in your company or find new professional opportunities. They can also help you build a personal website or blog or showcase your artistic abilities. 

You might think about getting more skilled in specific software, such as Microsoft Suite or Google applications. Which programs your company uses can help you decide where to focus. If you’re planning a career shift, you can learn the skills you need to move forward into a new field.

Review Your Career Plans

It’s common to hit a point in your career where you feel stagnant. Maybe your company doesn’t offer the opportunities you hoped for, or you realize that this field isn’t one you really enjoy.

Don’t be shy about trying new things. You might even get into an entirely new industry. If you’re considering a hands-on field, like physical therapy or massage, be sure you review your educational options and make sure they’re safe in this time of COVID-19. 

There’s nothing wrong with changing course, even dramatically. Perhaps the downtime provided by this pandemic has given you time to rethink your larger goals. Or, maybe you were laid off or lost your job and now have the freedom to choose a new direction. 

If so, don’t be afraid to make a significant change. Having a career-oriented degree can help you land on your feet. You might choose data analysis, business, or a healthcare major. The key is to find a high-quality, reputable, and safe training program.

Take on Extra Projects

One excellent way to develop in your career is to stretch beyond your regular day-to-day duties. Is there a project that needs to be done but no one is stepping up? Why not you?

Taking on an additional project can help you stay busy while also boosting your resume and professional reputation. Perhaps it will move you toward a promotion, or you’ll gain experience that will help you land another opportunity. 

Projects can go hand-in-hand with learning new skills, as you may have a chance to practice doing something outside of your normal scope of work. New design skills? Leadership? Give it a try! 

Watch for In-Person Events to Return

As we move into 2021, there has been increasing talk of a vaccine and being able to return to life as normal. You can expect in-person events slowly to return, although attendance may be low at first.

If you’re someone who enjoys in-person networking and conferences, your opportunities may return in mid-2021. Take advantage of the chance to shake hands, meet people in person, and use your connections to advance your professional goals.

Working remotely can be stressful, especially for extroverts who thrive on human connection. Just keep your eyes looking forward — in-person events will eventually come back.

You Can Still Grow During COVID-19

Don’t let this pandemic cause you to give up on 2020. Instead, reevaluate the landscape and think about what you can do that will help you move forward.

When you’re clear on your goals and learning style, you’ll know if remote learning will work for you or if you should wait for a chance to attend in-person classes. Perhaps you can work on learning a specific skill and take on a project to practice using it in a business environment. 

If you’ve been laid off or lost your job, you have the chance to reevaluate your career and choose a new path. There are a variety of degrees and certificate programs that can help. 

2020 isn’t a bust. In fact, it may be the new opportunity you were looking for. Review your options and move forward! 

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