Grass broke through the crack in the pavement. Power of natureBy Kim Fernandez

Apparently, a new job interview trend is to ask candidates what amazing thing they did to learn more, better themselves, or boost their careers during COVID-19.

Remember last March? It felt like everything we knew, everything familiar and safe, whooshed down a giant black hole in the span of about 30 seconds.  Office, gone. Trips to restaurants and coffee shops and grocery stores, gone. Trips and commutes and budgets and gatherings, gone. School, gone. Our jobs, our organizations, our daily routines all upended, along with those of everyone around us.

I remember hearing that my husband’s office and the high school were¬† closing (like, right now) and the college kid was coming home (like, first thing tomorrow morning), and spending an afternoon strategizing where four people could all work in their own quiet spaces in our not-so-big 1930s Cape Cod–including shifting lighting and hardwiring my computer to the modem to take the sudden strain of four simultaneous, all-day Zoom connections off our wi-fi. I learned that Walmart restocked things like toilet paper and flour and hand sanitizer and wipes (remember sanitizing anything that didn’t run away?) between 4 and 5 a.m.–which was also when Instacart delivery times opened up–and that became my personal Magic Hour. I learned how to stock a pantry and freezer for weeks’ worth of meals, how to sew face masks, how to breathe deeply through all the sudden activity in my formerly quiet home office. And at the same time, work changed, the parking and mobility industry changed, the economy rocked, I could go on and on. Massive, seismic, life-shattering stuff.

One of the speakers at my daughter’s recent (on the football field with very limited attendance) high school graduation told the kids that this year likely made them the most resilient and potentially successful generation in history–they’re ready for anything. I think that’s true for all of us. No matter what the challenges were, we all learned how to make the most and keep carrying on. That’s the accomplishment. Wear it proudly.

Kim Fernandez is IPMI’s director of publications.