COVID-19 upended all of our daily routines. But through this forced transformation has arisen new ideas and ways of doing things. Here Parina Parikh, director of programs at the San Diego Workforce Partnership, discusses the challenges and opportunities she’s experienced in the last few months.
How has your work changed during the pandemic?
The pandemic has required our team to quickly pivot all of our job seeker facing services to a virtual platform. This was quite an endeavor as the team wrapped up the FY20 program year. All of our trainings are now virtual along with individual client meetings for programs like TechHire.
Our job coaches have seen exponential growth in the number of job seekers we serve through our online career portal. They are also holding virtual webinars for students at Vista Unified to continue to help them with their job search in lieu of in person office hours. I couldn’t be prouder of the direct services team. We achieved over 90% of our programmatic goals despite the pandemic and brought in six new programs for the FY21 program year! This is an important and exciting time to be a key player in workforce development.
Any challenges you’ve had to face or overcome while working from home?
Like most working parents with school aged children, the pandemic has brought unforeseen challenges. During the school year, we were all wearing multiple hats: parent, homeschooler and full-time working professional. My kids, Aria and Asher, were incredibly patient as they transitioned from in person school to zoom calls, while trying to let mommy continue with work despite my being at home every day. Many of my colleagues have met my four-year-old son, Asher, as he shared his artwork or math homework during one of our meetings!
It’s certainly a nice change to eat all of my meals with my family and catch up with them in ways I normally wouldn’t have. The fall presents new challenges as we go back to virtual school, and I’m fortunate that the Workforce Partnership understands and is willing to accommodate the needs of working parents. I think the key to making this unprecedented time successful is to be patient and kind to one another—we’re all in this together after all!
Have you picked up any new hobbies?
Prior to social distancing orders put into place, I was one of those people who had memberships to various exercise studios. In fact, at 5:45 a.m. you could find me at either Orange Theory, Rush or my local Barre studio. Now that these gyms have been forced to close, I’ve taken up running and am closing in on almost 20 miles/week! I’m still waking up early in the morning so I don’t miss breakfast with my kiddos but it’s been so refreshing to run outside on an almost daily basis.
Apart from running, my family has watched all nine Star Wars movies and plenty of other 80s classics that my husband and I grew up watching. Board games have become our friend and you’ll sometimes see fierce competition over Scrabble and Monopoly.