COVID-19 has upended office life and we are all living with a new normal. As a young PR professional working in health care communications, I’m looking for ways to learn new skills and break through the pandemonium to continue to grow. When we began working remotely full time, I was worried that my professional development would be stunted, but I quickly discovered three ways of continuing to grow–and maintain sanity–during this chaotic time: getting face time with mentors, setting goals, and taking time to breathe fresh air.
Getting Facetime with Mentors
The pandemic has thrown schedules into disarray, canceled events, and suddenly shifted focus for our health care-focused clients. For me, it also means that working closely with mentors to get feedback and improve my skills is more difficult than ever. I’ve quickly learned to provide my team leaders more time to review my materials and to schedule time to discuss changes. Being more proactive about asking questions and seeking out new tasks is key to maintaining the vital momentum of learning.
Working at a PR agency allows constant interaction with coworkers, and I usually can just walk into someone’s office whenever I have questions. Now, it’s limited to emails and video chats. The video gives me important face time for a richer mentorship experience that helps me understand a boss’s revision and master a new skill.
Before COVID-19, setting goals helped me plan my days, understand what areas I need to improve on, and think about how I can achieve those goals. With all the chaos and extra time, the first week working from home felt somewhat empty and directionless. Working at home reveals many distractions in my apartment, not to mention those in the outside world. But setting some personal benchmarks has helped me keep on track with my daily work and my broader professional goals. These benchmarks have included checking in with team leaders to get feedback and give updates on my work, make progress checks to meet my deadlines, and dedicate myself to learning new skills such as crafting new business proposals and mastering best practices for writing commentaries. I’ve also applied this goal-setting to my personal life to make the best use of all my unexpected free time.
Breathing Fresh Air
Among my new daily goals is to get outside whenever I can. It’s no secret that fresh air and exercise are vital for a healthy life, but it’s not easy when you’re locked down. Invigorating yourself and promoting mindfulness—while self-isolating—can be as simple as going for a walk or run, or just opening a window. I count myself as particularly lucky because I live on the top floor of a building with a beautiful rooftop for quick breaks when I feel cooped up. I can re-center my mind and come back to work feeling relaxed and refocused. You can too!
Your professional development doesn’t have to be put on hold during quarantine. You just need to work around these new barriers and, with your mentors, find new ways of growing. Being organized and mindful of your mental and physical health will help move you forward in learning new skills and proving yourself as a PR professional.