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Instagram Live Recap: Ann Shoket on Staying Ambitious During Troubled Times



As anyone who’s kept an eye on the news for the past month or so knows, things have been changing at warp speed. It seems every day there’s another unprecedented headline.

But even though this crisis has derailed the plans of millions, it’s still possible to stay ambitious amidst the uncertainty—and even to make career progress.

Author Ann Shoket , writer of The Big Life and once editor-in-chief of Seventeen Magazine, dropped by SoFi’s Instagram Live stream to talk about how she thinks this historical moment is actually a chance for millennials to “step into their power.”

Here’s a quick recap of what she had to say to our audience.

Uncertainty in the Time of Coronavirus


When it comes to career progression, the coronavirus pandemic landed in almost everyone’s laps as a big surprise—and a major disruption.

“In the last two weeks, everyone’s life has been turned upside down,” Shoket says. The experience is decidedly “unmooring.”

“It feels like the ground is shaking under your feet,” she goes on. From conversations she’s had, she knows that millennials—and everyone else—is worried about the following issues:

•  The health of parents and family members

•  How to maintain healthy finances during this turbulent time

•  Job security—or the ability to find a job, for those at the beginning of their career or between positions

•  Maintaining normalcy at home with additional challenges, like suddenly working remotely and having kids home from school, etc.

While news anchors (and financial resources like SoFi) have already been talking about planning for a recession, we’re now hearing about the possibility of an out-and-out depression and record unemployment.

Even for those in the best of circumstances, the ongoing conversation surrounding our uncertain financial future is “a big energy drain,” Shoket says—particularly since there’s nothing any of us can do about it, personally.

“The feeling of being out of control is probably the worst part,” Shoket goes on, saying it’s “the thread that connects every conversation she’s had” about the topic.

On top of all that, stay-at-home restrictions mean our community is feeling more isolated than ever, a problem that we’ve already been working through in both our careers and personal lives.

How Millennials are Poised to Make This Moment Work


Despite this apparent tower of troubles, Shoket believes this crisis could actually have some serious silver linings—particularly for millennials.

Shoket believes this generation is well poised to not only survive this moment, but to make it work for them… because, as Shoket points out, they’ve done it before.

In 2008, millennials were just starting their adult lives when the recession pulled the financial rug out from underneath them.

But rather than letting that topple their drive, millennials were “mobilized,” Shoket says. They found ways to turn their side hustles into their main hustles, to make their dreams of affluence come true regardless of circumstances.

When she’s asked the question, “Why are millennials the way they are?” Shoket says, “the answer is the [2008-2010] recession.”

And now that another financial crisis is looming, millennials are in the perfect position to weather the storm… and even find ways to advance their careers on their own terms.

All of a sudden, some of the job perks we’ve dreamed about—the ability to work remotely, for instance—are a reality (or at least, some facsimile of them). A system millennials have been trying to disrupt for a decade has been abruptly and irrevocably disrupted.

“There are no rules,” Shoket says. “This is a place where young, hungry, ambitious men and women are completely comfortable.”

That said, it isn’t going to be perfect, because there are some real-world goings on, like hiring freezes and downsizing measures, that are disrupting the way career ladders usually work.

“You have to cut yourself some slack,” Shoket goes on. If you wake up in the morning and your drive is not there, or the opportunities aren’t there—it’s okay.”

“The thing you have to remember is that we’ve been here before.”

Q&A with Ann Shoket


The live stream finished with Shoket answering some questions from our audience.

How can workers stay on track while working from home?

Many of us had career plans that were in the works as the crisis emerged, but Shoket says it’s possible to do more than simply survive our new normal—we can even thrive.

The key? “Rely on your network,” she says. The popularity of measures like Zoom happy hours and family gatherings have shown that people are finding creative ways to connect despite mandated isolation, and this creativity can apply to a career as well.

Shoket recommends doing first-time video conference coffee meetings with important people in your career circle, and reminds us not to approach networking in a transactional way.

Instead of asking for help or advice, focus on “deepening the relationships with the people who matter to you,” both in your work life and personal life.

At a time like this, she says, “Your relationships and your network are everything.”

What do you think the future of publishing will look like?

Given Shoket’s media history, it’s not surprising that one of our audience members—who’s just finished their first novel—asked this important question.

And given our new housebound status, Shoket predicts it’s a bright future, indeed.

“We need content now more than ever,” she says. “We need good books—books that can be adapted for television or turned into movies.”

For young writers looking to take this opportunity to get their words out there, she suggests focusing on “ideas that can bring people together.”

During this time of isolation, connectivity and community are critical, and media can catalyze and inspire togetherness more effectively than almost any other industry.

Is now a good time to switch jobs?

Given the overall uncertainty in the market, even for those who are in fairly stable positions, it might seem scarier than ever to pursue a job switch.

But in some ways, the crisis could actually serve as an opportunity to go after long-standing ambitions.

“I think it’s always a good time to chase your ambition and chase your dreams,” Shoket says, especially since new challenges can make an already-iffy job feel even more unbearable.

Although it’s not exactly a booming market for new positions, there is still work that needs to be done. Shoket recommends job-seekers “lengthen your horizon for finding a job,” but continue putting your feelers out and making connections.

“There’s no sense in staying in one place if it’s not working for you,” she goes on. “The world is big and possibilities are endless—even though it doesn’t feel like that right now.”

She also recommends checking out online resources that can help you brush up your skill set; LinkedIn, for instance, is offering some free eCourses .

How can workers continue to distinguish themselves during this shift?

Asked by a self-described introvert, this question has been looming on the minds of the suddenly-remote workforce. It can be difficult enough to get recognition in person, let alone from behind a screen.

Shoket recommends creating a “brag list”—a list of the top five career moves you’ve made you’re most proud of, moments when you went above and beyond or led the charge.

Once you have that list, be sure to communicate those items to your supervisors when you can; if you don’t have the opportunity to bring it up in an email correspondence, bring the list to your next formal review.

“The key now is communication,” Shoket says. “Let everyone know how hard you’re working; let them see how great you’re doing.” Bosses, after all, have a lot on their plates and can’t keep tabs on your awesome work as well as you can.

How can men support the equal pay of women who are our coworkers?

Throughout the March 30 feed, we focused on the advent of March 31st’s Equal Pay Day—the day on which women, on average, break even with their male counterparts as far as earnings.

One audience member asked how men could support their female coworkers, and Shoket had a single, resounding answer: “transparency.”

Women already share their salaries in career networks as a way to learn more about whether or not companies actually pay equally.

Shoket suggests we maintain that practice, volunteering the information even if it’s not directly asked for—and asks men to share their salaries, too.

She also commends the asker for recognizing that power is not a zero-sum game. When the pie gets bigger, it gets bigger for everybody, regardless of gender, race, or other demographic markers.

Still Feeling Unmoored?

Even with a heaping helping of great advice, times like these can be overwhelming. But Shoket invites listeners to continue the conversation by following her on her social media channels, where she can be under the handle @annshoket .

SoFi also offers a variety of no-cost members benefits that can be a comfort during this time, such as the ability to talk to career coaches, utilize the service of a professional resume reviewer, or connect with our team of financial planners—all from the comfort and convenience of our mobile app.

If there’s one big takeaway from the livestream, Shoket says, it’s this: “We can transcend this moment together.” We can overcome all of the challenges the coronavirus brings, and then some… and we are, in fact, built to do so.

To learn more about how SoFi can help you reach your career goals—even during uncertain times—make an appointment with a career coach today.

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