COVID Work Life: Careers Created in 2020

Photo courtesy of BigStock-neuravnoveshenui

Photo courtesy of BigStock/neuravnoveshenui

COVID upended almost everyone’s life. People lost jobs, switched industries, and found unique ways to pivot and re-organize in response to the pandemic. Very few people are living the same life now as they were in early 2020. From fitness instructors to gig workers and more, we got the scoop on how COVID impacted our professional lives.

Gig Worker / Artist – Nik C.

Many industries completely shut down in lock down. Nik worked in two such industries. “Covid collapsed my work life completely,” they say, “I worked large events [and] as a freelance film worker…Both jobs came to a sudden halt [and] I lost all sources of income.” Worse, “my healthcare was essentially taken away from me.”

“There was a dark period of no work at all.” But Nik made the best of it. “I took [lockdown] as a means of pursuing what I was passionate about,” they explain, “I started work on my book.”

Nik has picked up gigs as restrictions ease. Shipt, the grocery delivery service, is currently their primary source of income. “I [get] to choose my hours and my region…[I don’t] lose focus on my art like I did with other 9-5s… My art, my earnings, my choices.” 

Fitness Instructor – Sarah W.

The gym has gone through some major losses-especially early on when we were trying to figure out how to adapt to city wide closings of gyms,” says fitness instructor Sarah W, “[My gym] lost a lot of clients.”

Sarah’s gym adjusted, focusing on bringing fitness classes and one-on-ones into their clients’ homes via Zoom. “I have completely had to revamp how I reach clients in the fitness setting,” Sarah explains, “People are so hesitant getting back into a gym.”

There are perks to online fitness instruction. “People who are not comfortable working out with others love that they can be in the comfort of their homes and not worry about others judging them,” Sarah says.

Online sessions also have their drawbacks. Sarah mentions how hard it is to “make sure everyone is using the correct form or offer modifications.” The camaraderie established at in-person classes is also harder to come by online, although Sarah encourages her clients to “come a few minutes early to chat with the instructor or stay a few minutes late to chat with the other class goers!”

MSP Courier –Don, Sue, and Charlie F.

“When they shut down the country our workload level went down by fifty percent in two days,” says Don, who owns and operates MSP Courier with his wife and son. Luckily, “within a month we were back to normal numbers and about two months later we were doing record numbers.” 

Many of these new jobs involved transporting COVID in some form, which meant new risks. “All our drivers were kind of apprehensive at first,” says Don. Drivers were careful, though, and it was only late last fall that a driver contracted the first and only case of COVID at the company. He has since recovered and, considering the volume of COVID-related materials that the company works with, everyone involved is grateful that only one person has gotten sick. 

The increase in clients also meant an increase in hiring abilities. Charlie, who had coincidentally just left a career in experiential marketing, was able to hire friends who had lost their jobs. “I was happy to help people who I know are great workers,” he says.

Student Life Director – Evie P.

College students – and the professionals who coordinate their lives – have seen huge changes this year. Evie, who coordinates student life for college students explains, “[M]aking adjustments within our program to offer a safe and robust experience for our students in the midst of a pandemic…has meant adjustments to student housing, more openness to hybrid learning and…[policies] to assist students if they are sick or exposed to COVID.”

“Overseeing Covid protocols [for students] is exhausting and stressful,” says Evie. Keeping students safe and happy sometimes seem like mutually exclusive goals, but Evie’s emphasis on open communication with students has made a difficult job a little easier.

The pandemic has also helped her institution clarify the importance of its mission. “The pandemic has forced higher education to think again about the product (education) that they offer,” she muses, “Our organization has done a great job in thinking through this and being reminded of what we do and why we do it.”

S & S Glass Company – Sue and Scott W.

“Never in our wildest dreams did we ever think we would have encountered a pandemic in our life,” says Sue, of S & S Glass Company. 

After the initial shut down, S & S Glass had to figure out how to navigate their status as an essential business. “We had a meeting with our employees and said we were able to work moving forward, but [would only accept projects] where we could make sure our people were safe.” Despite the company’s efforts one employee quit, citing his “anxiety about getting sick.” So far, the team has remained healthy.

S & S Glass Company found itself uniquely suited to build the increasingly popular glass barriers, partitions, and shields for local businesses. Neither Sue nor Scott felt right capitalizing off the pandemic so they forewent “the markup we would [normally make] on other products.” 

The other significant change for S & S Glass Company is in office culture, “We no longer have a open door policy…we only see clients by appointment,” Sue says wistfully, “Life at our office is very different.” 

Nurse Practitioner – Ashley T.

Working as a nurse practitioner was scary at the start of the pandemic. “I would come home, change in the garage, and take a shower before I saw the kids. I was scared to hug them,” Ashley says. Ashley’s workplace has worked hard to keep their clinic safe – and they have been successful. 

No one who works at the clinic has contracted COVID. “Everyone has been super diligent about masking and hygiene.” Just as important, the team has communicated carefully with patients to make sure that “people who are ill aren’t coming into the clinic.”

Telehealth has been a gamechanger for patients and health professionals alike. Patients who are sick – or who simply have tight schedules – can speak to health professionals from the comfort of their own homes. “That’s been good for some things [but] it’s challenging sometimes because you don’t always have all the information you need,” says Ashley. 

Ashley’s primary concern as a nurse practitioner now is patients who put off seeing a doctor for the last year. “A lot of screenings [for blood pressure issues, uncontrolled diabetes and things like that] have been delayed,” she says, “The world is kind of scary right now, [but] we want to take care of our patients and keep you safe and healthy,” she says.

It has been a year full of changes, both professional and personal. Let us know what changes you have dealt with in the last year and how they have impacted your day-to-day.

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