Montreal

You're hired! Now stay home. New recruits navigate the pandemic working world

Although working from home has allowed for more flexibility for workers, it has also left some new hires without the support they need to really shine.

Recent grads and new hires say starting their careers hasn't been easy

As an extrovert, Jama Jama says it's been challenging to fit into the work culture of his new job while everything is done remotely. (Submitted by Jama Jama)

Feeling pressured to overperform and prove himself is something 27-year-old Jama Jama can relate to, especially after landing a temporary job in October as an administrative clerk.

He describes it as "feeling stuck, feeling that it's never enough, like most students or people of my generation."

He's been working remotely during the pandemic since graduating in May 2020 from Concordia University's political science program.

As an extrovert, he's found it challenging.

"I like to do presentations. I like to be around people when I work. It was kind of difficult in that sense. So for me, the pandemic was really … just devastating."

And others Jama's age can relate.

Julia Castro, 27, got hired as a web developer with the Dawson Boys and Girls Club this past December. She too has been working from home the whole time.

She says she feels isolated and excluded.

"I'm not really part of this, kind of, work culture. So I guess that has, for me, been the most difficult part. It's just feeling like, sort of on the outside of the workplace," said Castro.

Not enough tools or supervision

Although working from home has allowed for more flexibility for workers, it has also left many new hires without the support they need to really shine, says Erica Pimentel, a PhD candidate in accountancy at the John Molson School of Business at Concordia University.

Between June and August last year, she surveyed 35 people, six of whom were recent graduates and new hires. The rest were people who were supervising recent graduates and new hires.

New hires need to be flexible, rethink what they bring to the team and ask questions, according to Erica Pimentel, a PhD candidate at the John Molson School of Business. (Submitted by Erica Pimentel)

According to her research, despite wanting to do their best, recent graduates and entry-level new hires were simply not producing the best work.

"I mean, you have folks that really want it, they want to show how good they are, especially knowing how few jobs there are out there," said Pimentel. "But then they find themselves not having the tools, the mentoring supervision to do really, really good work."

Pimentel said that due to this, some firms are even refusing to hire recent graduates and entry-level new hires as working remotely makes "mentoring supervision" difficult.

Connecting with the help of the pandemic

Pimentel says she's seen the way entry-level new hires and recent graduates pressure themselves to overperform. The only way to combat that, she says, is by building self-confidence.

"You're not just an entry level trainee [who] should be so grateful to have a job. You are bringing skills," said Pimentel. "Think about what it is that you can contribute in terms of your knowledge."

It's not just work that has switched online. The world of career counselling is also virtual these days.

Kasia Tomasinska is the director of employment services and program manager at Youth Employment Services Montreal.

It provides online services like employability workshops, focus groups, one-on-one coaching and connecting youth to mentors in specific fields of work.

"We work with a lot of recent grads," said Tomasinska. "We look to work with a lot of people who are taking a break from post-secondary education."

Tomasinska's advice is for people to use the pandemic as a way to network and to remember they are not alone in feeling, well, alone.

"There's no one that's unaffected right now. And so there's solace in that," says Tomasinska. "Find the community where you can share in the experiences of people who are going through the same thing as you."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shahroze Rauf

Columnist-researcher

Shahroze Rauf is a journalist based in Montreal, originally from Toronto. You can contact him at Shahroze.Rauf@cbc.ca for tips and story ideas.

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