Entrepreneurship or 9 to 5 Job: How COVID-19 Changed My Career Path

Career Readiness, Student Perspectives, Student Success, Whole Student Support
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Trevonte Garnette is a Cengage Student Ambassador and Business Management student at Monroe College

 

Throughout the pandemic, it became commonplace to express how our lives were disrupted. Many talked about how it felt weird being home all day and having to relearn basic things in order to cope with the new environment. While on the other hand, many enjoyed the feeling of being able to relax again. For me, however, it was a bit different. Like many college students ready to conquer the world, I was forced to change career paths.

The plan I had created so meticulously started dissipating right in front of my eyes. After canceled internships and other professional opportunities, I thought it was over. Everything I planned seemed impossible. I wondered; how can I change my career path in a way that works with the way things are going?

 

Solitude and Clarity

After spending the first few weeks rotating between news stations and social media apps, I felt trapped. It felt like an endless cycle of being fed information that just made quarantine more brutal. I reclaimed my love for reading, but that only took me so far. The constant anxiety over what my life may be like post-pandemic swam through my mind like a petrified fish. My mind was so occupied with other voices that my voice felt like it was in a box. I decided enough was enough and chose to have a social media detox. After completing my classes every day, I would turn off all technology. Then, I’d get a notepad and write everything that was going through my mind. It felt freeing. Slowly all the voices started disappearing and my voice was being pushed front and center.

When everything was cleared, I asked myself “Is the path you laid out for yourself a reflection of your interest or of society’s?” Surprisingly, that question made me a bit hostile toward myself. I realized that everything I wanted was because I saw it on social media. After consistently seeing it for so many years, my subconscious started telling me that’s what I wanted. When this idea presented itself, I found every reason to refute it. I didn’t want to believe that what I wanted was not in my control but in society’s. My exposure to social media and societal influences made me think my career choice had to be singular. For me, that singular choice was entrepreneurship. I had no plans of ever wanting to work in an office or for others. When I heard “9 to 5,” I associated it with a despondent future.

Following that, I sat down and really asked myself what it is that makes me happy. Did I solely want to be an entrepreneur? Did I want a 9 to 5 job? Or did I want something else?

In pursuit of the answer, I repeated these questions to myself for weeks until a solution appeared. It was quite unique how it came to me actually. In my Sociology class, one of our assignments entailed making a list of all the things we want to achieve in life, then reading it to the class for extra credit. Waiting for my turn, I listened to everyone talk about their goals and aspirations. The person in front of me mentioned she wanted to do a lot of things, but she knew she had to choose one. Our professor responded to her, “Why not all?” A light bulb was lit when he said that. “DUALITY.” The answer I was missing was now so clear. Why choose one, when we can have all?

When we are children, our parents tell us we can have anything we want if we put our minds to it. I think sometimes we forget that. The world we live in is the one we create. There are no limits to what we can do if we put our minds to it. My decision was made. I discovered I want it all, not just one. I want a traditional career and I want entrepreneurship.

 

Road to Creation

Following my decision, I needed a plan. I had to choose a job that would support my goal to be an entrepreneur and vice versa. If I chose an employment opportunity, it had to help me gain the skills that would strengthen my entrepreneurial ambitions.

At the height of the pandemic, many lost jobs—which made applying seem fruitless. So, I used the resources available to get a head start. I joined virtual experience internships, I joined master classes, obtained certifications, listened to podcasts, and read books. For months on end, this is what I would do. Yet I still felt stuck. It was like déjà vu. I fell back into the cycle of intaking information and not applying it.

In the latter half of 2020, I started working on my business. I had all the knowledge needed to get started, so I did. This is where growth happened. I learned that doing is more productive than planning. At the start of 2021, I began my job search. After months and months, I found the perfect match: The Cengage Student Ambassador Program. It all happened so fast. This position allowed me to learn and practice many of the skills I needed for my career aspirations. My plan fell into place. I am working on my business, and I have a job that’s helping me hone my skills.

 

Enjoying the Journey

As it’s still early in my career, I remind myself to stay grounded and concern myself with the steps in front of me rather than the top of the staircase. No one can anticipate everything that could go wrong. The only way to be productive in planning a journey is to set your sights on the destination, then take it one step at a time to get there.

 

Download our Graduate Employability Report to see our survey results and learn more about how recent graduates are entering the job market.