Updated: Jul 11, 2020
Especially as women pursuing STEM– a highly competitive field sprinkled with a GENEROUS amount of gender imbalance– we tend to feel bored or discouraged whenever our willingness to stay productive starts to dwindle… and quarantine has done nothing but intensify that.
In fact, this uncharted territory has turned both our social and work lives upside down in a matter of days. At this point, all of this free time seems to be more of a burden than an opportunity.
However, I promise you: achieving leadership and productivity during this uncertain time as future engineers, programmers, and mathematicians is more than possible. There may be a once-in-a-lifetime global catastrophe confining us to their home, but as empowered young females, we can still make a huge impact in both our community and the STEM industry!
1. BEFORE ANYTHING ELSE, PUT YOUR MENTAL HEALTH FIRST.
Give yourself grace, and remember to be kind to yourself. To quote one of my teachers/role models, "nobody is 'on' all the time, and nobody who is can expect to do so for long periods of time without burning out."
So, acknowledge this: feeling unproductive is ok. Being abnormally unmotivated is ok. Not knowing what to do with all of your free time is ok. Putting your mental and physical health first is a must, and it’s important to note that using that free time to reassure and care for yourself may be even better than working tirelessly for eight hours to cross off your to-do lists.
Don’t worry. Take those few hours for that face mask and some aimless browsing on Instagram.
2. ENGAGE & SHOWCASE YOUR HOBBIES!
Once we start feeling like ourselves again, however, we can quite literally do anything we put our minds to… and this isn’t just limited to STEM. While we’re all usually pressured to pursue academically-promising fields, you can use this time to do what you love, whether it’s makeup, art, or simply just playing an instrument. Of course, you can always stick with your preferred major as well: healthcare, computer science, etc..
After you decide what you want to do, find a way to present it to the world! Common examples are:
A new Instagram account
Though they may seem modest at first, these examples allow you to fully express yourself, expose your interests in a semi-professional manner, and network with those who share the same talents, interests, and passions as you. To put the cherry on top, they’re also perfect for colleges/jobs, making you stand out from the other applicants in your resume.
3. START YOUR OWN BUSINESS.
Believe it not: the BEST time to start a business is RIGHT NOW, and I can’t emphasize that more. Most of the resources used by many successful businesses are for extremely cheap costs or are completely free right now, and the combination of resources + time will make your business successful. Below are some resources you can use:
Github student developer pack: getting discounts and other free resources with your student ID
Microsoft Azure: Free cloud credits!
Specifically for communications: G Suite, Slack, Mailchimp, Later, Typeform (now free)
On top of standing out in your college applications, starting your business also helps you learn social media marketing, another extremely VALUABLE yet rare skill that companies yearn to find. There are so many benefits that come with this.
4. ORGANIZE A GOFUNDME.
Organizing fundraisers for local restaurants and businesses helps your community stay alive, especially if they’re struggling financially. These are quick to make and easy to implement, as many people can chip in. The more viral the fundraiser is, the better, so be sure to promote it in order to make it as successful as you can.
Although this is important during the coronavirus, it can also work once quarantine regulations are lifted.
Of course, these are all just ideas, but here’s the main takeaway: start SOMETHING. They don’t even have to be on this list; you can help with social media marketing, start a nonprofit, offer free online tutoring for low-income students, or, heck, start a magazine. There are so many resources out there that we can use to our advantage (especially with all this time)!
Strong, capable woman to strong, capable woman: you can do this. Keep educating and exploring, queen!