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Woman makes career pivot amid the pandemic, helps others do the same

Valerie Mekki is turning her layoff amid the pandemic into a lifestyle and career change.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — New U.S. employment data released Friday shows the economy added 559,000 jobs last month, with the unemployment rate in the U.S. decreasing to 5.8%.

The jobless rate for adult women showed little change in the last month, dropping by .2% to 5.4%. The jobless rate among adult women remains higher than pre-pandemic levels.

Valerie Mekki started her blog “Oh, Hello Work Life” after she was laid off in April 2020 due to the pandemic, following an 18-year career in the fashion industry.

"I realized that I needed to learn new skills to keep up with whatever was available,” said Mekki.

She originally thought she would start the blog with the goal of showing her eventual future employer that she could learn skills like search engine optimization and digital marketing, but it’s turned into much more.

The pause in the pandemic gave Mekki time to start writing articles like “How to Build a Personal Brand During a Career Pivot” and “How to Get Over Your Fears of a Career Change.” She said her blog is designed to support and help other women who may be in the same position she was in.

"This is the first time that I have ever had a career choice that really aligned with a purpose for myself and for others, not just for making money for another company,” said Mekki.

According to a Deloitte survey of 5,000 working women across 10 countries, almost a quarter (23%) are considering leaving the workforce altogether as a result of their experience during the pandemic, citing an increased workload both at home and at work as the main reasons.

Jared Bernstein, member of the Council of Economic Advisors, said some of the biggest heroes of the pandemic are single parents, most of whom are moms.

"What we're trying to do from our approach here is to make sure that if they want to get back to work, they have a path back into the job market,” said Bernstein. “Not everyone will, but those who want to should have that option."

Mekki said she is planning to stick with the nontraditional route for now, turning her layoff into a lifestyle and career change.

"Don't waste another day doing something that you are not motivated in doing and feeling like you don't have value because you do,” said Mekki.

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