Raiesa Choudhury is a Career Ready Regional Manager in London. Here, she shares her story of starting a new role during lockdown and the importance of supporting young people who are going through similar experiences. 

Starting a new job is normally an exciting and slightly nerve-wracking experience. After being accepted into the Regional Manager role in February 2020, I knew it would take me a few weeks to get settled and understand the nuances of my new job. But I was excited to get started and meet my new teammates.

Working in the third sector, I had already had the opportunity to meet amazing, compassionate people who had helped shape me professionally and personally. Then the pandemic hit.

Jobs in the time of corona

Three weeks into the first lockdown, I started at Career Ready, meeting my new colleagues through blue screens rather than in the office. Almost a year later, one of my teammates has a conspiracy theory that I possibly have a fish tail instead of legs seeing as she’s only seen me waist upwards!

Many people will be familiar with my lockdown experience: wi-fi issues, bouncing from the table in my dining room to the small Ikea desk in my bedroom, remembering to take a full hour’s lunch break and get outside.

Virtual connection, real relationships

At times, it’s been an isolating experience without the usual mundane office chatter, getting to know my colleagues over a cup of tea, checking bits of information over our desks, finding out people’s passions and complaining about the weather.

But in other ways, I’ve felt more connected, particularly in collaborations with bright, experienced colleagues across the UK which I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do otherwise.

I’ve felt extremely lucky to join such a supportive organisation – through all three lockdowns – despite the ups and downs of the past year. I’m also lucky to have had 10 years of working life behind me which naturally helped me settle into my new role with confidence – something that young people going into their first ever job role would have felt missing keenly.

Support for young people 

There are stark figures on how the pandemic has impacted young people, beyond the immeasurable impact on their mental health. We know the pandemic has widened the inequality gap which was already in an unacceptable state.

Yet what has impressed me the most this past year as a Regional Manager is the strength and eagerness that our Career Ready students have shown to ensure they can create a bright future for themselves.

Studying part-time has also made me aware of how challenging it must be for students to be isolated from their peers, who are not only friends but motivators and support systems during the stresses of school. Although we are moving back toward ‘normality’ there is a long way to go – let’s hope our young people come out stronger with our support.