I was unemployed in the midst of a pandemic.

And it turned out just fine.

2019 turned out to be the best year the world had seen in a while. The following couple of years saw major upheavals for the lives of many.

Before I begin, I would like to state that it is no intention of mine to understate what you or others had gone through. I would go as far as to say that what I’m about to write is merely a privileged problem that I was lucky enough to have. You get it.

You get it because YOU lived through those couple of years too.

Well well well, look at you now. We made it! Yeah, a little torn & tattered, beaten but not defeated. We emerged! Okay, enough of the pep talk.

Photo by Sydney Rae on Unsplash

I want to write about my experience with unemployment in the midst of a pandemic and how everything turned out just fine. And if there is anything that I would like you to take away from this is:

Act on what you CAN control & don’t stress yourself over what you can’t.

2020 was the year I graduated, but I was already eager to enter the workforce at the tail-end of 2019 to get that bag. I was naive enough to think that I could easily get a job since I graduated with First Class Honours. So along with my certificate and a reference letter I obtained from one of my lecturers, my job hunt began. What ensued was more than 7 months of unemployment.

It was no doubt mentally challenging to stay motivated. The title of being unemployed gave me anxiety every day despite trying not to ever show it to my family & friends. Looking back, I can’t help but reflect on what I did during the time I was unemployed and what did I learn or gain during that time. Well for starters, I was forced to learn and practice job interview techniques.

I tried my best in using all the best practices for applicants in a job hunt. Just Google it. There are plenty. You can tailor your resume, connect with your interviewer on LinkedIn, write a cover letter, do your research about the role, write thank you email after each interview, and many more. Pretty handy in the future I’d say. However,

I felt like my time being unemployed was more valuable than I realised.

It was during that time I had the time to pick up life skills and mental models that I’m glad I did. I picked up on the importance of personal finance, obviously because I wasn’t earning anything. I forced myself to a monthly budget and I had to think of ways to earn an income. That was when I read a highly recommended book; “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”. It inspired me to take control of my money. I very quickly decided that I would start my own small business building custom mechanical keyboards for sale. However, I also very quickly realised that wasn’t a sustainable business model. HAHAHA!

One of the several keyboards built.

Long story short, that mini venture I had did not exactly work out. But, the book also inspired me to get into investing. This time I did not rush the idea of getting into investing for I had lost money in the past making foolish bets. I took my time in understanding the concept of investing, making sure I wasn’t misinformed. I clearly remembered buying my first stock, NYSE: BABA. We shall see in 5 years if what I had learned paid off.

In retrospect, the best pick up I had whilst unemployed was probably acquiring the mental model of not stressing what I can’t control and instead focusing on the things I can have an impact on. I mean, it was tough being unemployed. Many times I thought was it me that was the issue. “Am I not good enough?” constantly clout my mind. I had to constantly remind myself that there are situations beyond my control influencing my success in finding a job.

Instead of worrying about things beyond my control, I reminded myself that I should make progress in things I have control over. I once saw a video that encapsulate this mental model perfectly. It said:

“Write all that is bothering you down on a piece of paper. Proceed to strike off those that you can’t do anything at the current moment. Now you are left with the items that you can do something about. Now go do it.”

And that was how I motivated myself to improve. I took on courses, read books, watched videos, all to desperately not stay stagnant and fall into a rut. I’m glad I pushed myself and battled it through. Eventually, I got an opportunity in a traineeship programme with an events company, whereby my role was to facilitate the development of a virtual platform for a hybrid event held in Singapore. That was my first product management experience, unknowingly. I’ve since moved on to another role elsewhere which I am very happy to be in and my pandemic unemployment seemed like a blip in my life.

Mock-Ups for the virtual platform

I do not wish to have a post too long hence I am ending this here. If there is any message I would like readers to take away from this would be:

Focus on the things you can influence and don’t stress over things you can’t

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Aspiring Product Manager in FinTech/ Crypto. Read about my journey towards my goal!

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Alex Seah

Alex Seah

Aspiring Product Manager in FinTech/ Crypto. Read about my journey towards my goal!

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