Unusual times require unusual actions. Living almost one year with a global pandemic showed me how fragile humanity still is, but also how quickly we can adapt to a new situation. Unlike most previous articles I’ve written here, this one is a little more personal about my specific experience living and working in pandemic times, but I am certain a lot of people can relate to my situation, which is why I am all the more happy to share my story.
Graduating at the end of 2019 from university in Cologne Germany, I was very keen on getting my working career started immediately. I was sending out tons of applications for various positions around my hometown at the same time the COVID-19 virus was slowly creeping up on everybody's mind and spreading around the world. During this time I honestly couldn’t imagine how it would impact my plans and visions for 2020. As we entered March, it became clearer and clearer that companies were starting to hold back recruiting people and playing it safe in preparation for the uncertain times to follow. I began receiving one negative reply after the other, which ultimately drove me to start getting desperate and of course fairly stressed out. During the first lockdown most companies shifted their whole teams to working remotely and a lot of them even introduced part-time work due to massive loss of income, the situation for a freshly graduated student who just came out of university without any work experience couldn’t look grimmer. It was at this point when I realised that if the world is moving towards everyone working from home, why shouldn’t I be applying for remote jobs across the globe? I quickly lined up some interviews with businesses offering remote positions which led to a conversation with this new e-commerce startup called Noah, who were creating ‘starter kits’ for student freshers, home movers, cooks and baking enthusiasts. What impressed and attracted me most to the brand was their vision of becoming the number one starter kit company for anyone inspired to start something new, from all walks of life, paired with an overwhelming sympathetic and talented team. So when the conversation resulted in a job offer as associate product manager, there was no doubt I was going to jump on this incredible opportunity.
Admittedly, at first it was very strange working entirely from home with people that I had never met in person before. Bonding through a screen is definitely something I wasn’t accustomed to, but strange times require unusual actions and after a couple of months I was really enjoying my daily standups with colleagues tackling exciting projects from afar and from time to time, playing video games after work or grabbing a drink together - all remotely. After the first lockdown was over and restrictions started to lift, we decided it was time to seize an opportunity to get everyone together in the flesh for the purpose of team building and making strategic plans for the business in 2021. We booked a beautiful place on the Southern coast of England just outside Chichester, everything corona conformed of course, and I was on my way to finally meet my team in person. This was truly a great experience, since I had already worked with everyone for months no icebreaker was needed, but talking face to face created a bond which can not be achieved through a screen as most people would (hopefully) agree. Exploring the area, cooking together, playing awesome board games with beers, and of course workshopping as a team, definitely made up a trip I will remember my entire life.
I know there are many others who’ve started new jobs or careers during these times and are experiencing similar situations to mine, particularly working in isolation and possibly having never met their team in person before. So if an opportunity presents itself to meet your team, friends or family you should definitely get out there - even if it’s just for a coffee or a stroll in the park, it’s 100% worth it! After my experience the role is even more fun now and the communication within the team is much more efficient, since we know the person behind the screen, their role and its importance to the business.
It is strange how corona changed a lot of my plans for this year, but I can wholeheartedly write that without this situation and the changes it has made I wouldn‘t have been pushed out of my comfort zone and participated in all these challenging and awesome experiences I’ve now gone through and grown personally and professionally from.
I hope there’s some inspiration in here for you, and if you’ve been through a similar pandemic career experience recently, we’d love to hear more about it so please feel free to share your comments below.
Jeremy from Team Noah