KI Alumna Carolina: "Planning can help keep motivation high during this unique period."

Stockholm-based KI Molecular Techniques alumna (’18) Carolina Savatier-Dupré Bañares shares her views on working from home, staying motivated, and keeping in touch with her family in France and Spain.

KI-Alumni Carolina in her home office.

Carolina is currently a Research Project Manager at Universum Global. Her roll encompasses market research and working with the data analysis team to help their clients build their brand and attract employees. 

“Our main outreach project consists of an annual survey available in more than 40 countries, where we ask potential talent to identify their preferences about their ideal job, employer and workplace, as well as their career goals. We want to understand what the potential talent group is looking for and why they would choose certain companies over others. Then once we are approached by a client, we can help them attract their target employees better.”

How has the coronavirus outbreak affected your work/job sector?

“Everyone in the company has now been working from home for the past 3 weeks. At first, they said that you could stay home if you want, but then they shut down the office.”

For her team, the transition was very easy. Even before “corona times”, her team had a very flexible workplace and held all meetings online, since they have team members who are working from abroad. She remarks that the transition was also quite efficient, and she actually feels that they did not lose a single hour of productive work. However, with the change, they had to prepare and adapt a few aspects, for example, they had to ensure that VPN system was strong enough to accommodate the entire company.

Since her team is not directly interacting with clients, they don’t necessarily face the same challenges or potential losses regarding time or budget as those client-based parts of her company.

How does a normal day look, compared to before the outbreak?

“The days definitely look different. Staying home is not the same. I really miss the human interaction, because it is so important to me. To see how people react is essential.”

Because her team is doing market research, and not working with standardized processes, there are always constant questions and the need for rapid feedback. In this regard, she says that it is definitely not the same as being at office.

Regarding the workload, Carolina comments that they even have more work, since this is peak period for data analysts.

“It’s good to have a lot of work! I have many meetings, lots to do, and this really helps to keep me motivated.”

How does it feel to be in Sweden now, with your family in another country?

 “I am half French-half Spanish and my family lives close to the border. My family and I discussed whether I should try to come home, and we decided that I would stay in Stockholm.”

Carolina expresses that it is very challenging to be in a country that has taken quite different measures, while her family and friends live in lockdown in France and Spain. She has also taken stronger quarantine measures to, in a way, show solidarity for her own family.

What do you think you will gain from this unusual experience?

“Personally, I don’t think I have ever been challenged with such social isolation. I am a very social person, and I love the exchange of ideas, going out with friends.”

“Now that I am at home most of the time, I do things to try to stay relaxed, read, and do things that I don’t normally have time for.”

She tries to keep her motivation high with daily exercise.

“After this is over, I believe I will learn that I am able to go through this sort of crises. It’s always good to be able reflect.”

How do you keep in touch with your family and friends abroad?

I call my family a lot. We try to do “normal things”. Recently, for my sister’s birthday, we shared a big virtual breakfast together. We had a long, relaxed conversation and felt very close.

Carolina has also used this opportunity to reach out to friends who she hasn’t been in touch with since some time.

What advice do you have for students who will be looking for jobs now after spring graduation?

For the international students who are abroad in Sweden, Carolina says not to worry too much.

“This is a crisis, but this is not a permanent situation, and you can return to normal life when it’s over.”

“Focus instead on the transition period”, she advises. “Think about and plan your next project. Planning can help keep motivation high during this unique period.”

“Academia will not slow down”, she says encouragingly, “they may not be as affected as other sectors. A research assistant position, for example, could be a safe option as a transitional step for new graduates.”

While Carolina says that there are definitely job options out there, now may not be the time to start your own company.

Another option could be bigger companies who still have the capacity to still hire, she mentions, reflecting on the daily flow of job ads she sees on LinkedIn.