DriveWorks’ Glenn Smith – Even the most difficult times can be an opportunity for learning. This pandemic could be a chance for you to develop new skills and hone existing ones, for the betterment of your career and your life
In previous columns, I’ve written about what businesses can do to ensure they survive and thrive during this pandemic. But people are at the heart of this and many are asking what the future holds.
Do I still have a job? Has my role changed? And if so, is it something I can still do?
Students, meanwhile, have completed their studies. What should have been an exciting time for them is now uncertain and confusing.
What you do now will make a real difference in what happens as we transition to the next phase and to a different kind of ‘normal’.
How will you answer the question: “What did you do while in lockdown?”
If you’re unemployed or just entering the world of work, it’s time to invest time in yourself. Skill up and make yourself more employable.
Follow Charlie’s lead
My nephew Charlie is an apprentice joiner. Early on, the company he works for furloughed the whole team.
Undeterred, Charlie, who needed to complete and submit coursework for his apprenticeship, started looking for home-based projects that would enable him to practice his skills. His mum is delighted to now have unsightly water pipes clad, new laminate flooring laid in the dining room, new skirting with dovetail joints in her living room, and a wobbly pocket door re-hung and realigned.
Charlie sent me photos of his work, seeking approval. But being an engineer, I wanted to make sure the lad was learning, too.
We have had a few video calls and in one of these, I pointed out an issue I had spotted with the way he had clad the outdoor pipes. He had used cladding panels but had placed them upside down, meaning that rain would be directed behind the pipes, rather than forced to run off.
Charlie was pleased to have my input and even included details of his oversight and what he had learnt in the write-up of his project for his tutor.
He could’ve taken the easy way out and lost motivation during all of this, but I’m proud he’s carried on learning. He will have lots to talk about when employers ask him what he did during lockdown. I’m glad Charlie can come to me for advice.
Learning new skills and keeping your knowledge up to date can only help right now. The more you learn, the more you will be inspired to start your own projects, too.
With a personal project under your belt, you’ll be even more memorable when you talk to employers.
If you’re looking for help and inspiration, get involved in events designed to help you learn and network. It’s easier than ever while there are so many free, digital events going on.
You can find them on Eventbrite or in social media groups that focus on the topics that interest you. No matter what your subject area is, read interesting articles and stories and talk about them during interviews. It will make you stand out.
If video is more your learning style, watch some TED Talks. Even if they aren’t directly related to your area of expertise, there’s so much to learn.
If you’re looking for more tangible learning, there are lots of free courses and certifications you can take online. Whether it’s learning a new language on Duolingo, or taking a certification related to your future career, it’s great to have extra things to add to your CV.
If you’re interested in digital marketing, have a look at Google’s Digital Garage. If engineering and digital transformation is your thing, become a Solidworks Certified Professional or learn about the 3DExperience Platform. Our DriveWorksXpress and DriveWorks Solo certifications are free and available online.
Whatever you decide to do to add to your skills, break it down to make it manageable and achievable. Set small milestones.
When Charlie started his first lockdown project, he didn’t imagine he’d eventually be tackling a whole room of skirting boards and laminate flooring – but as you build on your achievements, your motivation and confidence grow, too.
My colleague Maria set herself what she thought would be an impossible challenge – to run 5k.
By using the Couch To 5k app, Maria (not previously a runner) has been able to achieve her goal. The app breaks the training down, gradually increasing runs to ensure you feel good about your achievements as you hit each milestone.
Maria says she’s going to keep on running to maintain her fitness and has even found she enjoys it. If you’re like me – one of the lucky ones still working during all of this – make time for yourself. It’s easy to burn out and do too much, especially when you’re working from home and the lines blur between work and home life.
I, for one, have enjoyed getting back to some old hobbies. Thanks to the weather, I’ve spent time in the garden on building projects (not plants, though – I don’t know a fuschia from a Ficus Benjamina). I’ve supersized a bench, turned a bit of waste ground into a hidden beer garden and used a bag of rubble to justify the purchase of a 2-tonne gantry crane.
I also bought a new soldering iron and repaired my bass guitar. Now I’m putting my fingers through a workout to make sure I can still play ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered’ – one of the best bass lines ever!
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Glen Smith is CEO of DriveWorks. He might think that ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered’ is one of the best bass lines ever, but we’re convinced it’s ‘North, East, South, West’ by Kool and the Gang.