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A Short Account on How I Did a Career-Switcheroo During a Global Crisis

Starting a new job during a pandemic and a national lockdown can be a tad more challenging, says Elsa Levo.

Published : 22.09.2020

It had been the most surreal week. The Finnish government had just announced several measures to fight the coronavirus, the biggest one being the restriction of no more than ten people in public gatherings. This was a terrible blow for my then-employer, a small theatre, and for me as its theatre secretary. Then, after all this Corona Chaos had ensued, and with possible layoffs looming in the horizon, I got an email. “Hi, you’ve recently been to a job interview at Haaga-Helia, would you be interested in applying for a position at StartUp School?”

I had been on the lookout for a new job for some time, wanting to try out something different. I had been interviewed for a position at Haaga-Helia’s International Services a few months earlier, and even though I hadn’t bagged that particular job, the interviewer kept me in mind. Apparently, she had dropped my name to StartUp School’s team when they began their search for a new assistant. I found this as an encouraging sign of the inner workings of Haaga-Helia; although I wasn’t just right for that job, maybe I would be perfect for another? I hastily wrote an application and sent it in.

Job interviews can be really nerve-wracking. Especially when it’s done on Zoom, not face-to-face in an actual office. Here are two pro-tips for remote interviews: Make sure your laptop charger works (mine didn’t), and that your Wi-Fi connection isn’t troubled by renovations in your building (mine was). To my delight everything went on without a hitch despite these minor issues, and I got a call-back for a second interview. Few days after that, I was offered the job. This is when I went through a short spiral down the rabbit hole: am I mad even thinking about switching jobs, with coronavirus swiftly destroying the economy? Should I take a leap to the unknown? Luckily, I remembered my mother’s go-to advice for life-changing dilemmas: Everything happens for a reason, everything will work out eventually. And so, here I am.

Starting a new job has its challenges. Starting a new job during a pandemic and a national lockdown can be a tad more challenging. I went to Pasila Campus on my first day to get my laptop and phone, and after that it was around three weeks before I’d see my actual work place again. I had to learn all my duties and responsibilities through video calls and shared screens in the few weeks I had with my predecessor –everything and anything from scheduling meetings to guiding students, checking invoices, following up on projects et cetera. Then there’s the work-from-home-etiquette I hadn’t had to tackle with before: Full make-up or just-woke-up? Smart-casual or business-jammies? Can you take a nap? Also, getting to know your new co-workers has never been more confusing. I had basically been to everyone’s home – and even met their families – before meeting them face-to-face several weeks into my new job. And my co-workers had the fortune to see my messy one-room-apartment and some dead plants.

Pro-tip for a new employee: Write a guide of your duties as if it was for someone else. Right when I was starting to get the hang of things, the summer vacations began and I was the only one left holding the fort. With quite little to do, I decided to finally get familiar with my workspace at the campus and found there an extensive but outdated Assistant’s Guide amidst a stack of folders. I realised rewriting it would be the perfect way to revise everything I had learnt thus far and find out about duties I had missed or that weren’t anymore needed but a nice history lesson for me. Teaching is a great way to learn, especially when your teacher is having a baby and all your teammates are on holiday.

To sum it up, my introduction period was quite different, but to my eternal gratitude, StartUp School’s team has been more than understanding of the unconventional way and era I’ve been introduced to my job. And it’s okay to not know everything – Haaga-Helia is big on continuous learning and all that.