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Remember February? The last time I contributed to the newsletter I posed the question, what will success look like on December 31, 2020? Well, a lot has happened in a few months, but I think the question is still valid. The difference is the uncertainty which requires we all consider creative ways to unleash our talents and grow our portfolio.

Helen Keller might have been addressing these times when she said, “When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.” 

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This is not a time for nostalgia for a workplace that no longer exists. It’s time to reimagine your talents applied in different settings – social justice, public health, medical research, food distribution, non-profit financing – career fields that have always been there, but have been shown to be lacking in priority and resources.

So often we’re restricted in our choices by our limited worldview. You can’t prepare and apply for positions when you don’t know they exist. That’s why this moment offers a unique opportunity to extend your vision of the possible beyond the boundaries of what you know. It’s a time that calls for imagination and outreach.

So how do you do that when finding opportunities seems more like an unending game of ‘whack-a- mole’?

Start close to home. Take ownership of your career, whether you’re studying, seeking work or employed. Every day, spend time doing research and information interviews to obtain a clear understanding of the situation where you aspire to work. Even knowing all is in chaos at this point is information.

Utilize the Lenfest Scholar community as a resource. If you’re not participating in the LinkedIn and Facebook groups, join now. If you’re a bit shy about reaching out and asking for help, start with someone with a common experience – a fellow Lenfest scholar or scholar alum.

Develop the habit of life-long learning. Use this time to broaden your skills portfolio – learn a language, read biographies of folks who work in field you might consider, subscribe to newsletters, listen to podcasts related to your field, enroll in on-line professional development courses.

Connect with your career center and alumni association. A number of institutions are working aggressively on alumni-undergrad hiring initiatives. Find out what’s going on at your campus.

Success on December 31, 2020 may look different from your initial expectations. The unexpected opportunity of the past three months has given us time to examine our values, reconsider our priorities and focus on how our career fits with the rest of our lives.

Keep going. There’s no other option. You have an engaged support network with the Lenfest Scholar community. Get involved. Ask for help.

Check out Eileen’s posts on the Lenfest Scholars LinkedIn and the Facebook groups.   For more of Eileen’s advice, contact her at eileen.kohan@gmail.com.  It is never too early or too late to get some quality career counseling!