By Khalid Mubarak
If this year has proved anything, then it’s that we can’t take anything for granted. Last February, I planned to visit my relative abroad for a couple of weeks and then I would go back to work. Little did I know then that life as I knew it would forever be altered. I didn’t go back to the office since, and I haven’t met some of my colleagues in months.
While the news of vaccines is uplifting, let’s be realistic, this may not be the last pandemic or uncertainty that the world faces. This pandemic pushed many of us to do things we may have never considered before such as working remotely, celebrating religious holidays alone, and not travelling.
So how could we, the youth, prepare for uncertainty? I believe that holding these essential skills is helpful. They may not be fool proof, but they could minimize the impact a crisis could make.
Always have some savings
The Covid-19 crisis put a lot of people out of work. With no savings, a number of people around the world saw themselves leaving their homes behind, and moving in with family and friends. When I first started working my salary wasn’t much, but my uncle advised me to always set aside 20 per cent of my salary as an emergency fund. Luckily, I listened to him, so when the pandemic hit, I was glad that I had some savings, should I lose my job. No matter how much you earn, always set aside some side money.
Have a risk plan in place
While it’s true that we can’t predict everything, there are some certain things we can prepare for. For example, you can ensure that you have a digital infrastructure in place, and if whatever crisis hits, your team could connect and resume work remotely. You can do that by developing multiple scenarios for different crisis. It’s important to update these scenarios from time to time.
Invest in yourself
If you depend solely on the education you receive in school or university, then your information could be obsolete within a few years, especially if you work in a technology or information related sector. When I graduated from university I made sure to continuously develop my skills, and learned skills that weren’t necessarily related to my work field. For instance, I took design, photography and writing courses. When the pandemic hit, and I found myself stuck at home, and with many people out there demanding to work with freelance digital content creators, I was able to put my skills to use and earn some extra money on top of my paycheck. You can easily learn new skills and you can do that from the comfort of your home. Dedicate an hour or two every week to learn a new skill, and soon enough you’ll find yourself armed with so many skills, which would make you more appealing to employers and you can earn some money on the side as a result of them.
Meet new people
When I first started working I didn’t feel comfortable going to events alone, and starting conversations with strangers, but I knew that if I didn’t do that, then I will always have the same pool of people around me, which isn’t bad, but I could be expanding my opportunities. So, I forced myself to attend so many business and social events. Not only did I make new friends, but I was able to establish partnerships and start new projects that helped me elevate my career. When the pandemic hit, I got in touch with my friends and told them I was freelancing. These connections helped spread the word and I got new clients as a result. Set aside some time to meet new people. Your social and your business life will thank you for it.
While we may not be able to prepare for every kind of crisis, these skills will get you through one and hopefully survive it.
Khalid Mubarak is a Kuwaiti social commentator.
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