As a writer, it’s my job to tell you about jobs, trainings and other career tips to help you navigate the employment market.
But let’s face it: Right now, it’s tough.
Job fairs are gone. Companies are putting workers on furloughs or laying them off. And some companies will not survive, or if they do, their business model will be drastically altered with smaller staffs.
This is the life COVID-19 has caused, and it is up to us to figure out how to best navigate it.
Even before the first COVID-19 case hit the state in March, the job market for many people of color in this city was bleak.
A July report by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee showed from the years 2014 to 2018, only 17.4 percent of Black men and 14.6 percent of Black women in the city earned $40,000 or more annually.
That ranks Milwaukee near the bottom in the category for large urban cities.
The economic gaps between the haves and have-nots are enormous.
But don’t give up hope. Some jobs will come back, and when they do, I will tell you how to find them and what else you need to do to land your dream position.
But now is the time to begin working on something else that is not career related: Your mental health.
We freely discuss how this pandemic affects us socially: less hugging and cheek kisses; smaller weddings; no huge graduation gatherings; no lunch or dinner dates with friends; and so many other suspended interactions we took for granted.
However, the mental toll is still adding up. I’ve had trouble sleeping. Eating. Concentrating. And quite frankly, working.
The stress and anxiety of COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on my sense of normal. I spend most of my days cooking great meals and exercising — two of the main things that provide me stress relief. On the plus side, I’ve lost nearly 20 pounds since mid-March.
I started with Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service in November . My position as a jobs and career columnist was new for our organization. As it started to take shape, Milwaukee shut down in March to flatten the coronavirus curve.
I do my best to keep my columns upbeat and give great tips and advice on job searches.
But around the end of June, I started to find it hard to write about jobs.
I’ve felt paralyzed by my own anxiety.
Some days wearing a mask is easy, other days, I feel one step away from a panic attack. Wearing a mask for more than 20 minutes inside of store is stressful to me, and a constant reminder of how fragile we truly are.
I’ve changed how I shop by going during non-peak hours to avoid too many people. If I see a full parking lot, I’ll sit for awhile and wait in the car until there are less people before proceeding. Sometimes, I’ve even left a store lot altogether if it appears to be too crowded. I’m sure many of you can relate.
I’m constantly reminding myself not to touch my face, making sure I have hand sanitizer, and I keep paper towels and disinfectant wipes in my vehicle at all times-just in case I need to pump gas, so I won’t have to touch the pump with bare hands.
I am hypervigilant. I know that one moment of forgetfulness or carelessness could infect me or the people I love.
During this time, we all could do better by extending one another compassion as we navigate the unknown for the foreseeable future.
As we start to go back to work, the health practices we’re currently doing will remain a part of our daily lives.
Looking out for one another is one job we can and should all do. Be well, Wisconsin.
About this column: I will share stories of those who have taken a nontraditional approach to employment or an unusual career path. I will also list employment information such as job fairs, resource fairs and job training events. I encourage community organizations to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with career information.