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Young professional in job search – making the most of his time

May 15, 2020

A Story About Hope – for all college grads
By Josh Kline
Josh’s website

Now this is a story all about how my life got flipped turned upside down, and I’d like to take a minute, just sit right there…. I’ll tell you how I became the Prince of a town called Bel-Quarantine. Yeah, I know. Doesn’t sound quite right. But that’s ok, these are not normal times and creativity is taking all forms right now.

I digress.

I graduated last year, and up to 6 weeks ago, was gainfully employed as a consultant for a solar energy company, focused on policy research and media communication. Then disaster struck and I was “furloughed” by my company. I love this word furloughed. I’d never used it before now, and I’m still a bit confused about its true meaning. Fired? Put on hold? Laid off? Who knows? What I do know is that suddenly the upward trajectory of my career hit a boulder and started falling fast. 

They told me that while my policy research and analysis skills are greatly valued, they do not contribute directly to the bottom line and thus are not necessary at this time. This news upset me. A lot. I basked in self-pity for about a week and then was told in no uncertain terms by my parents to, “Call your career coach!”

The following Monday I Zoom’d (another new verb), with my recently hired career coach, which was just what I needed. I had hired her to help me find a new, full-time job in the DC area, and had been already closing in on three offers, one of which had asked for letters of recommendation. Then the pandemic struck. I had been 100% certain I would land one of the positions and move down to DC, and leave the playground where I spent most of my days far behind me. (I promise I’ll stop with the Fresh Prince references soon). 

Then the next boulder hit. One of the companies called and said that they were no longer pursuing applicants for the Policy Analysis position because of complications with the CV-19. A few days later I heard a similar song from another company. A week later the company that was asking me for recommendations told me they were rescinding their offer due to Covid! Seriously? I was again outraged. I went from full employment with multiple interviews and one job offer, to no job and no job offers. My life was officially flipped upside down. (I’m almost done). I was lost and feeling directionless with no hope of how or when I was going to be able to get my career back on track. 

I’ve never been so happy to have a coach by my side. I had worked with coaches before but for sports, and college. But this was different because the work we were doing together was not only improving my job search skills, but providing me with a lot more focus, increasing my self esteem and confidence, and helping me position myself more effectively than I had previously been doing. 

She told me I was still in charge of my own path and the most worthwhile use of my time during the pandemic was networking, keeping my finger on the pulse of the solar industry, ongoing skills gap education, resume-building projects and self-reflection.

I became a master with Zoom, scheduling meetings with friends, family professionals, Lafayette alum who were willing to chat with me about their corporate culture, as well as connecting me with others who they thought may be of help to me.  Jo taught me all about networking, down to the tiniest details associated with background research, outreach and follow up etiquette, use of a CRM to stay organized, and how to create ongoing communications campaigns to deepen the relationships I had formed. I learned that a networking relationship is reciprocal, i.e. you have to find ways to help them, not just ask for their help.

Together we brainstormed and reflected on possible gaps in skills based on jobs I was applying for, and developed pros and cons lists. We also spent a few hours creating 90- days goals in the areas of networking, education, projects and job search. I’m the kind of person who needs external structure, someone to be accountable to, and timelines to stay diligent and reliable, although with no structure, I’ve learned to put it in place for myself. Another win!

Six weeks into this crazy time my Daylite CRM has 30 new contacts in it.  I have just been accepted into the Data Analytics Certificate Program at Wharton, I’m taking an advanced Excel class online, and I’m fielding daily emails from really kind people who seem very committed to helping me find and land that next job.

By working with a career coach I have found new ways to take advantage of this time, and I’m convinced I will come out of the end of this tunnel with a deeper and stronger network and LinkedIn profile. I will have new soft skills and new, industry relevant technology tools at my disposal. 

And that is the story of how I became the Prince of Bel-Air/Quarantine. (Thanks for your patience on this one!)

Josh Kline
Networker & Solar Analyst

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