Navigating a new career during a pandemic
In August, about six months into Britain’s coronavirus lockdown, I started an internship with Lda, a MediaCityUK-based Content, Strategy, Creative & Tech agency.
I had only graduated from the University of Salford the year before. I thought the height of my uncertainty about the future came when I was throwing my mortarboard in the air (and trying not to drop it in the Irwell), but I was clearly wrong.
It came, very predictably, in March 2020. I was furloughed from the part-time job that had seen me through college and university, and although I kept applying for any jobs relevant to my degree, I felt very deflated by the (understandable) lack of responses. I spent most of my abundantly free time walking my dog, reading novels, and writing poetry. There was also a lot of Netflix. There wasn’t a lot of job searching.
Then came an email from Salford’s Careers & Enterprise department, detailing a content writing internship available solely for their alumni. I read the job requirements and I remember thinking that every bullet point described me to a T.
Almost a year to the day since I’d graduated, I was offered the position. I was ecstatic, but also still slightly uncertain. The pandemic hadn’t gone away, so how was I going to meet my new colleagues and settle in? Short answer: not in the traditional way.
The first time I ‘met’ everyone was on a Zoom video call, and I was definitely nervous about trying to build relationships remotely and being able to show my personality. As it turns out, your personality comes across when you least expect it in a home setting, especially surrounded by family and pets. A bark from my boisterous red setter would spark a conversation, as would the coffee-dispensing methods we all use, from Lavazza pods to cafetieres and everything in between. There’s definitely more personality yet to come, and I think the team will look back fondly on those peaceful first few weeks from the subdued intern when it does.
When it came to working on my first project, writing content for a client, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew it’d be nothing like any university assignment I’d completed and I knew I’d have questions.
I tried not to virtually batter anyone’s email inboxes or Slack threads, but whenever I couldn’t solve something alone my colleagues were more understanding and helpful than I could’ve hoped for. There really are no stupid questions when you’re learning something entirely new remotely.
I received training on a scary-looking Content Management System (CMS) via Slack, by sharing screens with a colleague and having him watch me fail repeatedly in real time. I’ve managed to lose emails I swear I didn’t delete and have sprinted upstairs with a full Beetlejuice mug in-hand to make the morning meetings on time. It’s been a weird and definitely wonderful start to my career at home.
I will always be astounded and grateful for the fact that I found a job during a global pandemic, and I’m not just saying this because my boss will read it, but this job and the people I’m getting to know are more than I could’ve hoped for. I can’t wait to meet them face-to-face but, until then, beating them at virtual Pictionary on a Friday afternoon will have to do.
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