This pandemic has changed everyone’s lives in so many ways. 2020 was when we learned that flexibility and perseverance was the only way we were going to survive, and my life is a testament to that.

For three years I worked at my aunt’s insurance agency, enjoying decent pay for once in my life. I had just purchased a house with my wife. But like it did for so many small companies, Covid changed everything. Although we did all we could, we had to bow out.

I’m always up for a challenge, but in this job climate, I was truly scared. I had never been on unemployment, yet there I was, filing and praying that the payments would cover my bills while I looked for work (spoiler alert: They did not).

The job hunt. Job hunting had always been one-dimensional for me. I would look for the closest restaurant or service job and apply, get an interview and begin working at around $10 to $13 an hour. I never aspired for more, because as a formerly incarcerated woman of color, I never imagined that anyone would take a chance at hiring me based on my versatility or intellect.

Because my typical haunts weren’t hiring, I found myself applying to a different set of jobs that required a different style of hiring. Some of the job interviews that I could land had multiple stages, and applying to a few of these jobs at a time meant going through a process that could take weeks. Meanwhile, my bills were stacking up and my savings and credit were dwindling. I was in a state of distress, sure my financial doom was right around the corner.

I applied to jobs on numerous platforms: Indeed, LinkedIn, Craigslist, or anywhere that anyone would refer me to — and yes, Amazon as well. Usually all of these outlets have provided me with a job rather quickly, but 2020 was a different story.

A new angle. My wife happens to work in the nonprofit sector and had heard about a position that seemed to fit my skill level and energy. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect because I have never worked for an organization that had a cause, and I’ve never jumped head-first into a start-up type business, much less a cooperative! Nevertheless, I jumped on the opportunity.

After a couple interviews with the founders of this business, I was quite intrigued and excited at the prospect of working with such amazing individuals with a zest for creativity and change. It took a few tries to understand the business model in its entirety, but once I got a true understanding of what it was, I got an email that relieved me of all my woes: Turning Basin Labs had offered me a job!

Perseverance + Openness = Success

As of October 2020, I am the operations officer here at Turning Basin Labs, whose business is helping others find meaningful and gainful employment. At my near rock bottom, I jumped at a chance, and now it is my duty and occupation to help others in similar situations find that same lucky break in these unstable times. Now, if that isn’t coming full circle to pay it forward, I don’t know what is!

I’m sharing my story not to gloat over my own success, but to encourage others to be open to jobs and careers outside of what you normally would go after. Also, do not give up! The same tricks that you may have used before may not work today. The traditional way to find work — apply online, wait — did not work for me. You may just have to check out the job someone “heard” about or take on the job that is new to you. Do not close your ears or eyes to any opportunities.

I wish you all the best, and hope you have the opportunity to reinvent yourself amid these challenging and changing times.