21 October 2020

LIFE DURING COVID – A YOUNG PROFESSIONAL’S PERSPECTIVE ON COPING MECHANISMS, RESILIENCE, ADAPTABILITY AND PROFESSIONALISM

Industry

by Georgina Kay-Black

2020 has been an odd year. My husband and our flat-mate work at Michelin star restaurants, whilst I combined studying at university with a part-time taproom job. In a nano second Covid-19 changed everything for us. With it came huge uncertainty; not just for job security and future career prospects but from a cost of living perspective too because living in London is scarily expensive.

We discussed returning to our family home back up North, but increased restrictions and reluctance to uproot our cat meant we needed an alternative plan. At that time supermarkets were besieged with panic buying. Pasta was flying off the shelves like it was the apocalypse, so we came up with the idea of making and selling fresh pasta and sauces locally. While my husband and our flat mate made fresh pasta and cooked sauces, I created a social media presence for our brand, Nightingale Pasta, enabling customers to order online. We used our allotted daily exercise hour to deliver orders and the ensuing press coverage by our local newspaper and subsequently The Telegraph soon meant we were selling out!  Sadly, the arrival of furlough signalled the end of our project. Nevertheless, I am proud we saw an opportunity and used our collective strengths to make it happen.

Looking back, my lockdown experience overall was positive. I have always viewed being adaptable and flexible as essential qualities which I think have helped me remain grounded while managing change with a level of comfort. When I look back at my life, this approach has been self-evident for some years now. Initially, I missed out on university after school but found an apprenticeship in Business Administration at Newcastle University. I took full advantage of the opportunity and received an Apprentice of the Year award.  Thanks to Imposter Syndrome, I often feel like I have only been offered jobs through being in the right place at the right time. However, when the university faculty underwent a restructure during my apprenticeship, my colleagues fought to keep me, in part to my helpful and willing attitude. Alas, the lack of job security led me to apply for a promotion, a role in events. I then went to worked in at the School of Engineering, which turned out to be intense but worthwhile and ultimately led to studying a degree and forming a career in Events Management.

A constant interest has been the co-educational charity, The Scouts, having been involved as an explorer leader and other roles for the past 10 years. Including completing all three Duke of Edinburgh Awards and my Queen Scout Award. In 2017, I became the youngest District Commissioner (Area Manager) in the UK at the time. Although a shared role, it still added considerable hours to my working week at the University but also taught me about flexibility, teamwork, and imagination, as well as how to make my voice heard.  The experiences Scouting has given me have been inspirational, even during lockdown I took a virtual course about the Scouts of the World Award which focuses on the UN’s social development goals and pragmatic ways and projects to achieve them.

Lockdown gave me time to reflect, assess everything that was happening around me and then think about what I wanted from the future. This led me to conclude that I needed to build a personal brand and a portfolio that matched. I knew I had to reinvent my version of #eventprofs. Passion for events is my primary focus, but I also have an affinity for tattoos. I decided to make the most of on this and Tattooed Event Manager was born, with Paul Fulton designing my logo and artwork. I have Instagram but plan to set up a website highlighting my creativity, hard work and dedication to events production.

The world has changed because of this pandemic, but I believe as a generation, we will find a way through.  Sometimes we need to be flexible or move the goalposts. No matter where you come from you can try, tweak and then complete. Go for every opportunity because you will grow. Take advantage of education and networking opportunities. But most of all, be open to new ideas from unexpected moments… you never quite know where they will lead!

Georgina Kay-Black is a second-year undergraduate studying Events Management at the University of Greenwich Business School.

Photo by Georgina Kay-Black