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We’re all “recalculating” now

June 2, 2021 8:27 pm Published by 3 Comments

Tina J. Mello (she/her/hers)

Cooperative Education Faculty, Biology
Northeastern University
CEIA Blog Contributor, Marketing and Communications Committee

We're all "recalculating" now

Those of us who attended CEIA conference in April received Lindsey Pollak’s new book “Recalculating: Navigate your Career Through the Changing World of Work” as part of our registration, but it’s worth picking up if you didn’t attend (if you’re wondering, I don’t get commission, the book just really resonated with me on a personal and professional level at this moment in time.) It has a wide range of useful career advice, though as you can probably tell from the title, the focus is on changes and transitions, both voluntary and involuntary, with emphasis on how COVID-19 impacted careers and job searching.

Many of us provide professional development advice in some capacity, in function if not by title, whether it’s college/university co-op or internship advisors, coaches with private practice, or those in Human Resources. We often discuss career changes or disruptions with our respective constituents, but some of us, not to name names (me), spend more time talking to other people about their “recalculating” than thinking about their own. This year, we all had to recalculate, whether we wanted to or not. From working from home to learning 1000 new technologies by the seat of our pants to new safety protocols in the office to being laid off and searching for new positions.

Pollak mentions “mourning” what you leave behind (p. 38), and while I hadn’t thought of it in those terms, that’s an appropriate description for how I’ve been feeling. While I am definitely grateful for a job that allowed me work from home and maintain financial stability, there’s a lot I miss about pre-pandemic work: a private office where I don’t have to worry about waking my husband who works a different schedule, talking to coworkers and students in person, and even my lengthy commute on public transportation – I realized after the fact, that it is such a defining time for my day, shifting from personal to professional, and back again. Now, my morning starts slowly, with a period of befuddlement, while I try to adjust from breakfast at my dining room table to working at my dining room table, and ends in the same disoriented way (Pollack suggests a “shut down ritual” at the end of the day – I definitely need to do this. I’m considering throwing a towel over my computer when I’m “done.”)

Pollak mentions that recalculating isn’t just for job changers and career transitioners, she talks about recalculating within your current job. She presents 5 rules for recalculating, regardless of which category a person falls into:

  • – Embrace creativity
  • – Prioritize action
  • – Control what you can
  • – Know your non-negotiables
  • – Ask for help

“Control what you can” in particular stuck with me, since 2020 absolutely felt like it happened TO me. In a time when I felt like everything was out of control, I was reminded that I do still have control over some things. As we move through this pandemic, as slow as it has been, I’m feeling more motivated to do some intentional “recalculating” using some of Pollak’s suggestions and activities. I’ve also passed the book along to my husband, hoping he will find some inspiration for his own career plans, since he doesn’t want his wife career counseling him!

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