On a Friday in late March, I entered the bar where I worked to find it completely empty. I thought for sure it was a slow start to a long shift ahead. Yet, I was wrong. It never picked up. If anything, things felt weirder as the day went on. Within hours, the bar that I had come to love as my own, that had been my personal cure-all for economic and social anxiety alike, was unrecognizable. The chairs were empty, the bottles of liquor mostly removed, and worst of all, absolutely no guests in sight. So when the rest of the weekend followed a similar pattern of absurdity, I could not help but see the worry in my manager’s eyes. He knew the harsh reality that I also knew. Our love-hate working relationship aside, he knew that he would have to let me go.
I spent the majority of the next month enjoying some quality time with my partner in quarantine. At first we took it as a blessing in disguise and enjoyed our much desired time off together. When we started bickering over brands of shampoo, I knew that things in quarantine were anything but normal. Unemployment gave me a net, but with the plethora of misinformation and lack of clarity over the stimulus, I never felt secure that a net would always be there to catch me. Returning to work quickly became the biggest hurdle for me to overcome
What would happen when I got back to work, or worse, when would I get back to work? News on the Coronavirus felt grimmer by the day, and the prospects for me returning to work anytime soon felt long gone. Even then, would work be the same? Would I make the money that I did before, the money that had become essential for the livelihood I had cultivated? I found myself embracing a new answer: I had to find a new line of work.
I have a degree and a decent amount of experience, but nothing can prepare you for the uncertainty of the application process, especially within a global pandemic. The social skills that always allowed me to nail interviews were rendered null by the emergence of Zoom. The security that employers felt when hiring was clouded by the uncertainty of the future.
Yet, uncertain times quickly proved to not be detrimental to my job prospects as I landed here at KLS Financial Services. It was immediately apparent to me that KLS was more than a collection agency; it was a family. Its family of motivated and upbeat people have driven me to be better in my work every day. Admittedly, uncertainty landed me in an uncertain place, so I have some tips for people who are struggling to situate themselves in their job search.
- Open yourself up to potentials. I never pictured myself working at a collection agency. It was a door that I never imagined opening, but it ended up being the door with my name on it. Careers become soft embodiments of what we stand for, but that does not mean they need to come in the form that you have always imagined. I have loved every day I have spent here and look forward to a future that I previously never saw.
- Stick true to yourself as much as you can. Before searching for a job, I spruced up my LinkedIn, polished my resume, and tried to style my ever-growing shaggy hair to be more presentable. I even set up a cute portrait of a city I have admittedly never been to behind my computer to convey as much personality as possible during my video interviews. It’s the little things that count and keep the search interesting.
- Take advantage of your new normal. Perhaps the best part of traversing new paths is the opportunity to personally better yourself. Learning new skills and jobs while making new relationships makes you a better worker and candidate overall. This can also be a time to experiment with your free time. Whether you cultivate a skill playing guitar or learn to bake, finding that chance to achieve fulfillment could be the most rewarding journey of all.
Ultimately, securing a job at KLS has been a radical shift in pace for me, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I found a new home while working from home. I still think about the pandemic every day, as most people do. Yet, this new normal feels more normal by the day, and it serves as a reminder that stability could always just be around the corner when it feels so far away.