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Dear Covid 19

Dear COVID-19,

 

You’re a double-edged sword.

 

First, it hurts. When you came, I was shocked – how does the face-to-face work we do at My Working Title continue? How am I able to survive working from home? How am I going to connect with friends and family?

Over a Zoom dinner, I even received coaching on how to capture a praying mantis that flew into my place.

Secondly, you heal. Strangely, you became the fuel for creativity. You carved out space and time for mini dreams to come true. You united people and drew out compassion, care and kindness.

 

You accelerated the urgency for career design and development. You accelerated digital transformation. You accelerated learning. All of a sudden, in Singapore, ~200,000 jobs are projected to be lost and 40,000 youths will be graduating, with only half of them expecting to land internships/traineeships. Career design and development, which used to be a backburner conversation is now at the forefront. 

 

Darlene (my co-founder) and I asked ourselves – how might we be of help? What good can we do? What is the opportunity in this adversity? Quickly we put out a list of resources for career resilience – giving away for free career catalyst calls, free assessments, links to jobs, etc. People told us that they were struggling to make decisions, trying to get out of the cloud of dejection and finding new ways.   

 

To reach more people, we had to quickly also pivot our offerings to digital. We learnt how to connect, inspire and empower over a cold digital medium. We had to figure out a different user experience, facilitating fun and meaningful career conversations. Ring lights. Headsets. Online platforms. Software development language. Lobby music. We had to figure all that out. 

 

A video project at this time? Never expected it, but it came. My phone buzzed. It was the National Youth Council calling and saying, “Can you create a video to address the concerns of graduating youths?”. We said “yes” and figured out the rest. Everything was done virtually – we “shot” everything via Zoom and pieced everything together digitally. There were many challenges. At times I caught myself going – will this work? Will this bomb? Will this resonate? Thankfully, it did.

 

Thank you, for this experience. You created a space that did not exist, where we made space for it and took up the challenge to fill the space. You sharpened our vision, strengthened our resolve and enlarged our mission.

 

While you accelerated many things, you also decelerated. Time came to a standstill. There was a lot more solitude and silence. It was hard at times, but I’ve come to embrace and even enjoy it. I’ve learnt to dig wells internally and fill them up. Mini personal dreams I had, finally were given the time to blossom. I finally nailed my morning routine. I’m exercising every day. I’m doing modern calligraphy. I’m tinkering on my piano. I’m discovering new recipes. My place is turning into a mini art gallery. 

 

Thank you, for the time to experiment – to re-edit my life, choosing what to layer on, what to remove and what to focus on. I used to live, wanting to maximise, now I’m looking to optimise. 

 

Most of all, I saw the power of community – the love, care, joys of being in one and nurturing one. In the struggle to pivot My Working Title, I had fellow entrepreneurs backing me up and in the video projects I needed to do, text messages of an “ask” were met with a big “yes” quickly. In the quietness of the day, I received caring WhatsApp messages, flowers, meals, cookies, ice cream, sourdough bread, prayers, bubble tea and more. Over a Zoom dinner, I even received coaching on how to capture a praying mantis that flew into my place. 

 

You hurt. You heal. Thank you, for sharpening me.

Jael Chng

07 Jul 2020