REAL Gen Zers Working Through COVID-Part 2

by | Sep 22, 2020 | MY JOB Gen Z

Highlights from Chapter 2 in our forthcoming book.

These three innovators transformed the COVID pandemic into an online internship abroad, a socially-distant lifeguard post, and a gap year on a farm in Hawaii. 



Age: 19

Job: Online Tutor

Location: New York City, New York, U.S. 

I was supposed to do a program through my school called DukeEngage, which is a program that places students in communities worldwide for a minimum of eight weeks. 

Throughout their experience, students have the opportunity to work with local partners to address community issues and learn about social change. My program was in Cape Town, South Africa where I was supposed to work at the Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town. 

Fortunately for me, they made DukeEngage an online program and I was still able to work for Scalabrini, online from the United States, and have an engaging experience. I made curriculums, tutored students over WhatsApp, and served as a TA for multiple classes. 

Although I would have much preferred being in-person and getting to know the people I was working with, my experience has still been insightful and positive, and I feel like I’m part of a community.



Age: 18

Job: Lifeguard

Location: Denver, Colorado, U.S.

This summer I was planning on working at my pool but I wasn’t sure if it would end up opening. Per the CDC guidelines, the pool opened but with heavy restrictions (no more than 50 people, no pool toys, no food or drink, masks except in the water). 

Last summer, we would hit capacity with 300 people often, all toys and floats were allowed, and the tables and chairs were all open and available. 

Now, to go to the pool, people have to make reservations online but it’s so busy because everyone is trying to get out of their house. The pool is also one of the best coronavirus options because it’s outside and the chlorine helps kill bacteria. It’s really interesting as a staff member because I see regulars from last year that I used to interact with personally and often, however now I can not. 

It’s been an incredibly different experience working at the pool, but I’m lucky to have been able to have a job right now. 




Age: 19 

Job: Gap Year

Location: Astoria, Oregon

The unknown factors of life that came from Corona gave me the courage to take a leap of faith and do something that I never would’ve seen myself doing before. I knew I didn’t wanna stay in the craziness of the Covid-era education system, so I decided to take a year off and go live on a farm in Hawaii! 

I also decided to use all the free time from Covid to self-improve, stay off of social media, and teach myself guitar–which is now a pretty big part of my life. 

I understand that many of those things do come from a place of privilege, but I’m still very thankful for the opportunities that I’ve been able to capitalize on for myself during this time.


Cover photograph used with permission from and gratitude for pille-riin-priske for Unsplash; interior images courtesy of Scalabrini South Africa, “Lifeguard on Duty with Whistle” by Dave Dugdale is licensed under Creative Commons BY-SA 2.0, and zach-vessels-03YiuEOU4OM for Unsplash.


This post comes to you as a portion of the book:

MY JOB Gen Z: Finding Your Place in a Fast-Changing World

 (c) 2021 by Suzanne Skees and Sanam Yusuf

An open-source, narrative nonfiction book full of true stories of jobs along with best practices for how to make your dream-job come true.


Note from the authors:

Join us each Tuesday and Friday as we release highlights from our new book, that will be FREE to our community members.

Share with your friends and followers; it’s FREE, open-source, and available to everyone.

No one makes a penny on this book project, which is intended to inspire and empower Gen Zers to launch their careers and land their dream jobs. Suzanne and Sanam have volunteered their time, and we’ve chosen this platform to transmit our book so that YOU don’t have to pay for publication costs.

However, if you feel inspired to help someone in poverty to have access to dignified work, jump here to donate directly to the nonprofit job-creation program of your choice–all vetted and supported by Skees Family Foundation.

Thanks for being with us! We’re excited to share our book with you.

–Suzanne & Sanam

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Suzanne Skees, author of the three-volume MY JOB series on real people in remarkable jobs, believes in the power of our jobs over our identity and wellbeing and, conversely, our ability to change our world with the work of our minds and hands. She lives by the Pacific Ocean and spends as much time as possible listening to the surf, and to silence.



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