COVID Times - A Blessing in Disguise

2020-11-23 / Javed Chishti

Year 2020, among the many surprises it sprang, came with a bang that history will record as a major event of the millennium. One might argue that we have seen Spanish flu just a hundred years ago. However, the pride, we all in this modern era had so gotten used to with all the major inventions and achievements in the last couple of decades that has been dealt a severe blow showing us our true place in the universe. The initial shock-waves of an unknown surprise bundle had a mix of both fear and panic apart from the usual uncertainty surrounding such unwelcome phenomena. This has gradually subsided and people have come to terms with this disease and kind of learnt to live with it and compromise on various fronts in terms of personal liberties and general freedom of movement etc.

One thing that the COVID situation gave all of us, at least in the initial few months was a lot of leisure time to kill. While some of us used this to watch a lot of movies and television, some of us also used the opportunity to learn new skills. This is true more in the second wave of lock-downs that governments across the globe have been imposing now that the initial fear and uncertainly has more or less vanished for a variety of reasons.

For those of us that know from history that such phenomena, no matter how severe the associated intensity and uncertainty, eventually subside, such periods present a great opportunity to prepare themselves for something new or exciting or pick one or more skills to take bigger strides in their careers. All it takes is some discipline and the right research or asking around to find the right resources to match what you are looking for. This could be the hardest part but then even this kind of research can often help understanding the pathway better apart from bringing us closer to the path leading to the ultimate goal. Apart from that, depending upon the kind of skill you are looking to learn, this might also require some investment in the form of money (fees etc.). However, there again, the career pundits would often advise us that return on investment with such ventures is often on the higher side although the "when" and "how much" parts in the scheme of things are, as always, unknowns. However, the guarantee is that a new skill on a portfolio is always a good thing unless of course, one has been silly enough to pick something that can only raise doubts in the minds of your superiors or hiring agencies.

Embarking on the journey

If you are serious about picking a new skill or enhancing your know-how of something you already know, here would be the simplest pathway in the simplest of terms:

1) Make a list of skills that you are interested in, things that you are sure will help you in your academic/career path. Do not create a huge laundry list but a list of say 2-3 things.

2) Then add, their pros and cons, either on paper (preferable) or in your mind. The factors to consider could be:

a)     Time - time required to learn this skill.

b)     Available Resources - resources available to learn this skill. In the times we are in, it could be an online academy, an educational institution or University, a book or material you already have/can get access to, YouTube or any other place that you have identified already.

c)      Money- In case it is a paid resource or training, you need to understand the costing to ensure it suits your budget and the ROI is worth the investment.

d)     Growth Metrics - In most cases, it is a good idea to ensure whatever you are learning there is a trustworthy mechanism to test that you have learnt it well. Often times, this can be hard. However, in case the course does not culminate with a test, you can always try to do it yourself either by finding another place to test your newly acquired know-how or try to test yourself in the worst-case scenario by challenging yourself with things like MCQ tests, flash cards etc.     

In a nutshell, I would say, if you can spare some hours every week and are keen to learn something new or ambitious enough to move forward in your career, identifying something you can learn and settings goals around it to accomplish it in a professional way would be the right thing to do.