Going Back to School & Back to Work in the New Normal

Sep 25, 2020

By Amy Bailey

My favorite thing about September has always been back-to-school shopping. Over the years, that has crept back into August, but I’m willing to overlook that change for the joy of buying new pencils, binders, and the like. But this year, that looked a lot different.

My son is nineteen and spent his first year of college away from us last year at the University of Utah. He loved college life and attended class enough to develop good relationships with his professors. But then the outbreak happened, the dorms closed, and he came home. I helped him a lot with his transition to online classes and remote learning. The sad thing was he never saw his classmates after he left – no group Zoom calls, only pre-recorded lectures and assignments. It sucked. Luckily, when he called his professors for help, they remembered him. They jumped in and said, “We’ve got you, Spencer.” Because he spent the time developing the relationships, he was able to lean on those when he was struggling.

In the end, he realized college wasn’t for him – at least not right now – and applied for a leave of absence. Fast forward to today, he has been accepted to a fabrication school that starts in November. There, he’ll learn to weld and bring to life the designs given to him from engineers using computer-aided design. In the meantime, he is working full-time in a granite and tile shop. He has enjoyed learning about what it takes to have his own business and be successful. So, instead of buying pencils, binders and notebooks, we bought work boots, a Milwaukee toolbox and Dickies.

So, what have we learned? We have learned that there is more than one path to lead you to your future. We have learned to be resilient and to go with the flow. We have learned that traditional college isn’t for everyone. We have learned that relationships matter.

COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on so many lives, from illness to job loss, loneliness, and depression. I have watched with sadness as people have lost jobs in the last six months. What I would encourage people in this situation to do is this – network.

I know that sounds obvious, but what I’m talking about is smart networking. Look through your connections and make calls to people who work for a company you like. Use LinkedIn on the top menu bar and click My Network. Search with filters to find people or companies. As you reach out to your connections, ask questions about any jobs they have open, or any they have heard about in their network. There are opportunities out there, but they require work to find.

I hope this fall is kind to us all. I hope things can get back to normal. I hope our kids get to go back to school and be kids. I hope those who have lost jobs find better ones. And most of all, I hope you are happy. And remember, if you need to talk, reach out to someone.

About the Author
As vice president of marketing at Telarus Inc., Amy Bailey leads communications strategy and manages events, creative and recruiting. Having worked in many aspects of the business, she brings a comprehensive knowledge of the industry landscape to communications outreach to provide targeted and effective results. Bailey earned a bachelor’s degree in speech communication and liberal arts from San Diego State University (SDSU). Passionate about empowering women in business, she participates in the SDSU Aztec Mentor Program and serves on the board of Alliance of Channel Women as its current president.