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How to begin your career during a pandemic


“Being in a corner has enabled me to become innovative and resourceful and find solutions to problems by thinking outside of the box.”


Just a usual working day. Joumana in her home office.

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My chosen path of study was a Bachelor of Economics at the University of Sydney. I loved the personal autonomy, the flexibility - and I was able to meet people from all around the world. That was very different to high school.


A purposeful path


As I delved deeper into my degree, I became captivated with the idea that if I had the skills and experience to learn about how to model the world and understand the economic principles modern society is built on, I would be able to drive real impact in our society - it was then I knew I wanted to pursue a career in that field. I knew I cared a lot about these values.


Career beginnings


I was very lucky to do my summer internship with ANZ and I quickly realised this was where I wanted to start my career. Not only were we applying economic principles but it was within a framework I felt aligned to.

The culture was very authentic. Everyone was willing to help and I had so much fun I knew I had to come back and do my grad program here.


Remote working


From memory, we only had four weeks of working the office before we moved to full-time remote working. The transition happened in stages. I like to think of it like pushing a giant boulder – initially it’s very challenging and there’s a lot of friction, but once you get rolling things follow more easily.


It was very challenging and almost a bit scary at first. I think it was my inexperience that made me uncertain about what my learning trajectory would look like, how I might build networks remotely and how I could manage my commitments at home. 





Lessons learnt


There are certain things I’ve learnt about myself during this period. I’m definitely more resilient and adaptable than I initially thought. I’ve learnt how to cope with changes in a rapidly shifting environment and can do this with an open mind.


Working remotely has brought about very flexible and sometimes unorthodox working hours for many people and often I’ve found schedules don’t always align. Speaking as a grad, when something needs to be done and you’re completely lost it’s easy to feel a creeping sense of helplessness.


But being in a corner has enabled me to become innovative and resourceful and find solutions to problems by thinking outside of the box. The skills I’ve learnt will not only help me now but in my next rotation and overall in my career.  


Although I have an inherent optimistic attitude, I know for certain now I’ll embrace these changes and uncertainties with an open mind.


Perspective is key


There can be a mountain of stress built by the pressure to perform and do well and COVID has only exacerbated this. Perspective however is key.


Thriving outside your comfort zone will allow you to become resilient and adaptable and will essentially provide a set of skills to help you succeed in the future.


Don’t dwell on things outside of your control, but rather focus on what you can control - which is you! Work hard, persevere, chase your dreams and remember there is silver lining in almost everything … you just have to be willing to look for it.


Joumana Ghazzaoui is Graduate, Australia Retail & Commercial at ANZ

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