If there's a silver lining from these past couple of years, it's community. Prior to the pandemic, I was (and still am) working a part-time position as an environmental educator, teaching an urban ecology course to high school students every other semester, all while earning my Bachelor of Science degree in physics and computational math. I barely had any time to breathe, let alone think about whether I was making deep connections personally and professionally.
Then the pandemic arrived.
As the in-person world shut down, my digital world burst open, leading me to finally join the National Society of Black Physicists, American Physical Society, Society of Physics Students, and Rewriting the Code. I started attending as many webinars and tech talks as humanly possible to meet other BLack physicists at all stages of their careers, learn about careers in software engineering, participate in career development workshops such as Breakthrough Tech sponsored by the City University of New York. And over time, I built my physics and software engineering community that I continue to lean on to this day.
If I were to offer advice to anyone going through any sort of professional or education transition, it's to be brave. Be brave enough to show up to that webinar, reach out to that professional you admire on LinkedIn, email that admissions office or professional development program, and join that Slack/Discord/Facebook affinity group for advice and resources. That bravery, or doing things in the face of fear, will develop the community that will look out for you as you advance to the next stage.
What's that saying? No man (or person rather) is an island. Let the community be your silver lining.