COVID-19 and Your Plans: What to Do When Your Career (And Your Life) Is on Hold

Jordyn Rystrom Emmert
Use this time wisely and invest in yourself to develop the skills that will set you apart from other candidates.

Use this time wisely and invest in yourself to develop the skills that will set you apart from other candidates.

Justin Lewis/Stone via GettyImages

The graduating class of 2020 is facing unprecedented challenges. Many new graduates are mourning their rescinded job offers, while others are anxiously waiting on pay cuts and (gulp) actual cuts. It is difficult to tell a new attorney to keep her chin up and smile if she is unsure of what the next few months hold for her. 

My current circumstances are similar. I practice in the non-profit arena, where budget constraints and funding concerns are the norms. Every fellowship or grant funding recipient has, at one time or another, worried about whether she would have a job after the money disappeared. So, what can you do?

A few days ago, I was looking for answers to that exact question. I began to listen online to one of my favorite pastors and speakers, Andy Stanley. In his message, he posed the question we have all been asking ourselves:

What can I learn in this season, and how can I become better for it? Practically speaking, what can I learn in this period of uncertainty and challenge, and how can I use this knowledge in the future?

I began to think through these questions, and after some reflection, I began to apply it to my current law practice and future goals.

What is my purpose? I want to use my law degree to help better my community and uplift local partners. This can be difficult during social distancing, so how do I use my current situation to become better invested in the city I live and the community I serve?

As I am working from home, how can I better my current practice? I am a labor and employment attorney, so practically my answers could be:

  • Take time to read the current regulations that guide employment law
  • Watch old employment-related webinars
  • Read recent employment cases

As I am working from home, how can I improve in areas I currently lack? No matter what field I now practice, to become a better lawyer, I could:

  • Reach out to a friend or colleague with more experience and chat remotely via coffee or drinks
  • Ask my coworkers for specific projects to practice those skills
  • Join an online thread, blog, or networking group such as the ABA Young Lawyers Division

If I face reduced hours or suddenly have time to kill, I could:

When facing the uncertainty of the future, it is important to think critically about your personal and professional passions and goals. One day, this pandemic will end. Use this time wisely and invest in yourself to develop the skills that will set you apart from other candidates.

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Jordyn Rystrom Emmert is an Equal Justice Works Fellow at the Equal Justice Center in Houston, Texas.