I Made a Career Change During the Pandemic—Here's My Advice to Other Parents

I left TV news after 15 years and found a new sense of fulfillment during the pandemic.

Lynn Smith
Lynn Smith. Photo: Courtesy of Lynn Smith

If we have learned anything in this pandemic it is that life is too short to not be happy.

Maybe that's why the Labor Department announced in April alone that a record 4 million people quit their jobs. Many cite the need for flexibility, renewed focus on happiness, quality of life, and a significant factor—a search for more money.

The trend continues and "The Great Resignation," as it's being called, is the opposite of what many thought would happen during a pandemic. Record unemployment and scarce hiring left many assuming you'd be insane to leave the security of your paying job.

So many have been wrong.

I recently left my career as a TV news anchor after 15 years at CNN Headline News, MSNBC, NBC News, and TODAY Show. I assumed people would say I was crazy. Just the opposite. The support was palpable. Some told me they have done the same and others are looking at where their skill set may excel along with their happiness.

We now have a deep understanding of how much has changed in this short time. The need for flexibility is forcing many companies to embrace a flexible work schedule or a hybrid model. Many of the rallying cries to finally embrace the need for flexibility to retain talent have been heard.

About six months ago, I began reporting on what was being called a She-Cession, citing statistics that women are 1.5 times more likely to report additional three hours a day on domestic "chores" and leaving the workforce in droves because of the impossible task of home, work, and distance learning in a pandemic.

When I made the decision to make a career change, it was because of the one thing that has driven all my choices and what matters most to me: family. For a morning news anchor, the day starts before the house is awake and usually doesn't end (we are all married to our devices). When my show was taken off the air at the beginning of COVID for what was supposed to be two weeks and later became over a year, I was given the gift of time. Time to sit with my coffee and get a snuggle before running into my closet/office where I'd write my scripts. Time to pop out of the closet to put my son down for his nap or play before going back to work (in my closet). That time became the hardest but most precious of our family and I chose them over the alternative.

What many working parents have faced is having to give up something in order to simply keep their heads above water. They gave up a potential promotion because they don't have the child care to keep up with their childless counterparts. Many gave up a raise because they can't put in extra time when dedicating their days to distance learning. I believe people are sick and tired of being sick and tired.

For those with a burning in their belly to take the leap of faith (and, of course, have the ability to do so), I believe there are ways to set yourself up for the best success possible. Here's my advice:

  1. Take the time to research, network, and hone in on what your options are and what the marketplace is telling you about where there is a need.
  2. Create buckets. Have two to three different paths and pursue them 100 percent equally to ensure you aren't putting all your eggs in one basket.
  3. Bet on yourself. You are worth it. You are capable of growing and you will succeed when you believe that.
  4. Work smart and hard. My biggest pet peeve is when people say, "Work smarter not harder." Huge mistake. Work smart and hard. I promise you will have much less competition.
  5. Just keep going. It's simple but you must keep going. Change brings lots of highs and lows.

"The Great Resignation" has shown us that we don't have to give up too much anymore. We can choose ourselves and forge new paths. Explore new opportunities and in many cases get paid more doing it.

Today is your chance to do what you want, and never regret it. While we may not know how the future will turn out, there's no denying that now is the time to seize every opportunity possible. We all can make an impact.

Lynn Smith is a National Media Expert and Anchor Alum at NBC News, TODAY Show, MSNBC, and CNN Headline News. She helps CEOs and entrepreneurs clearly articulate their vision to gain credibility and visibility in the media to significantly increase business.

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