Dr Gabriela Whitehead, Head of Digital Transformation and Process Management at GISMA Business School describes the next milestone in our career plan
The coronavirus pandemic has impacted our lives in one way or another since it started more than a year ago. We changed how we do some of our everyday activities, such as study or work, and adjusted our expectations as well as the planning of our future. At the same time, the implementation of new regulations and policies by local governments and transnational institutions transformed different areas of society, including the world of business and the labour market in general, thus changing the demand for certain skills and knowledge across different industries and locations.
Although great progress has been made on vaccinations and treatment for COVID-19, it is an ongoing pandemic, and we must continue to adopt the rules and regulations implemented to protect our health and that of others. However, the threat of the virus as we experience it today will pass one day, ending lockdowns and lifting the travel bans. People all over the world will return to education and the workplace, seeking opportunities in their local community or across international borders. This is, therefore, a critical time to evaluate our career plan and how it fits within the current conditions of the job market and the trends in the business world.
Reflecting on the career path
Reflecting on the steps and changes we made during the past year towards our professional goals and personal aspirations, gives perspective to our career path and the planning of the next phase. For example, those who started an academic degree within the past few months will be on their way to complete their study journey and advance to the next steps of their career. Those who decided to put their studies on hold, can now reflect in which ways their academic interest and professional targets have changed, and consider the competencies and know-how currently in demand.
Identifying the reasons for the choices we made also helps us to plan our future. For instance, some actions may have been driven by our personal situation and individual preferences, and others were probably direct consequences of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on our lives. As a result, some people may have learned new skills or explored different activities that changed their academic aims and areas of interest at work. It may also be the case that some of the options are no longer available, or that these have been replaced by alternatives or new opportunities. Whatever our current situation is, we cannot change the past; we can only learn from our experience to act today and make decisions for our future.
Boosting our career with further education
The changes adopted by businesses around the globe during the past year have not only transformed some of their key operational processes and systems, and created new technical and digitalisation strategies, but also resulted in a demand for specific technical knowledge, interdisciplinary competencies, and soft skills from the current and future workforce. For instance, adopting the new ways of remote working and communicating via digital platforms with multicultural teams located in different parts of the world.
To encompass this changing demand, many institutions of higher education have adjusted their provision of courses and academic programmes, started hybrid modes of delivery, introduced digitised processes, and offer online support to help students to pursue their degree despite current local restrictions and closure of campuses. These transformations are particularly attractive to those who wish to undertake studies abroad but are still affected by the international travel bans imposed in response to COVID-19 because they can start their degree from their home country and relocate abroad at a later stage.
Financing the studies
Financial aid and allowances are also amongst the changes related to the coronavirus pandemic, such as tax reductions, low-interest loans, and study bursaries. These are in place to support the economy of many countries around the globe; hit by the series of lockdowns, restrictions in trade, and travel bans that have resulted in salary cuts or job losses in the local workforce.
Pursuing a new academic qualification is thus an investment in our future. A milestone in our career as we prepare for the reopening of job opportunities. Scholarships, reduced application fees, and deferred instalment plans are, for example, some of the financial aids offered by private institutions of higher education. Moreover, career events, internships, and international exchanges are sometimes part of the package when signing up to certain academic degrees, such as those offered by business schools.
Part-time jobs, working in the evenings or weekends are also options to finance the studies; although these might not be related to our career interests, they are always learning opportunities in different ways. For example, those who decide to study abroad can benefit from these kinds of jobs to learn about the local culture, prepare their CV according to local specifications, experience different working environments or areas of the business, and build a professional network with others that may find themselves in a similar situation.
The response from society and governments to the coronavirus pandemic has helped to minimise further spread of the virus, helping healthcare providers to cope with the outbreak and ensuring our safety. As individuals, we have learned how to be flexible and find ways to adapt to a changing world by making different choices and seeking alternatives or new solutions. This applies too for the planning of our careers. There are many choices available to us; the question is where we want to be in our professional path in a year’s time.
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