Why Covid-19 Won’t Stop my Development

Ashley Smith Professional Development Leave a Comment

At the best of times, job searching is unpleasant; during a global pandemic, it keeps you up at night. Thankfully, there were not too many sleepless nights. I was thrilled to join Redstone Agency as an Account Manager in July 2020. The opportunity to switch it up and serve multiple non-profits simultaneously sounded like a good change. I had an inkling virtual onboarding would be fine since I watched “Going “Phygital”: Blending the Physical & Digital in Events” to prepare for my second interview.

I was delighted to be successful in the hiring process, and when Redstone mailed the technology, opening the laptop to see a handwritten rainbow note saying “Welcome Ashley” made me smile and calmed the nerves. It was odd to put on mascara and go downstairs to my kitchen to start my first day of work. The first week and beyond contained Zoom calls, Slack conversations, a virtual happy hour to welcome me and lots of reading; however, it is difficult to gauge the energy of an office or person over video, but it is getting easier.

Gaining employment aside, when COVID hit, I was determined not to waste the time and to better myself. Usually I am more ‘old school’ and like to learn in person; but like Redstone’s clients, I discovered you cannot stop just because life does not go according to plan. I had my in-person Project Management Professional (PMP) exam scheduled for March; naturally, it was cancelled. I kept pushing the date back hoping life would re-open. Realizing this was not a good plan, I did it online at my kitchen table in my PJs and did a happy dance when I passed. I took the exam prep online prior to COVID because of scheduling, so why should the exam be any different?

I found myself with lots of free time after my PMP studying ceased. So, for fun, I decided to continue the courses and complete a Social Media Marketing Certificate I started at George Brown College years ago – I should get that certificate shortly. I used to also attend Pinterest-worthy networking events related to social media and marketing in my spare time. In September, I signed up for my first virtual conference and it gave me a greater understanding of being a virtual attendee, an experience that I took back to my clients.

I know that I am not alone in my pursuit of personal/professional development; my Redstone colleagues have demonstrated their dedication to continuous learning, with many upskilling their digital events skills. We have a Virtual Event and Meetings Management (VEMM) graduate, someone else earned the Digital Event Strategist (DES) certificate, and some others also pursuing the CAE designation. I have been keeping apprised of their progress to inspire my next pursuit.

How are you using the pandemic to retool? Let us know in the comments!

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Ashley Smith

Ashley has worked in the non-profit sector for over a decade, the bulk of those years being at member associations for financial designations. Her experience has focused on managing programs and projects to enhance member and volunteer engagement. She comes with a background in operations, project execution, facilitations and prides herself on creating positive relationships to achieve results. Ashley holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts in English and Women and Gender Studies from the University of Toronto, as well as the Project Management Professional designation. She believes growth is a lifelong journey and is always open to new opportunities to learn and challenge herself. She is a past volunteer board member of SuiteLife Arts for Youth, and is looking for her next opportunity to give back. When not working at Redstone, she can be found eating nut-free cupcakes and keeping her imagination alive by making DIY projects.

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