Designing Your New Normal

Designing Your New Normal graphic

In this challenging new world adjusting to social isolation, how do you find a job you like, much less love? How do you balance your need to make money with your desire to make a difference? These are highly complex questions; this is a “wicked problem“. Explore your answers and design your next steps with us.

Content shared via Instagram, Facebook, and e-mail will be curated here throughout the term. Never forget, virtual career coaching appointments are available at

Week 1

  • Monday MotivationA message from the CCPD during uncertain times.
  • Tuesday Tips & Tools – “Understand that this is a marathon. If you sprint at the beginning, you will vomit on your shoes by the end of the month.” – Aisha S. Ahmad, assistant professor of political science at the University of Toronto. Read more at:
  • Wednesday Watch & Listen – “It’s clear that we’re all in this together, but as we’re keeping our distance, how do we feel connected?” – Jessi Hempel⁠. Listen to “Staying Connected in a Time of Coronavirus” at:
  • Thursday To-Do – Reach out to your community. Socialization while socially isolating can be tough, but we’re all in this together. Connecting with peers is extremely beneficial. Check out the Office of Student Involvement’s Virtual Community Center today and find something that sounds fun.
  • Friday Focus – Design Thinking is an iterative process used to address wicked problems (problems with multiple interdependent factors that seem impossible to solve). This Spring, the CCPD will be exploring and sharing concepts and resources from Design Thinking to help us all find our way forward. Check out this 3-minute video How Design Thinking Can Help You Solve Life’s Wicked Problems with Dave Evans and Bill Burnett, authors of Designing Your Life.

Week 2

Week 3

  • Monday Motivation – “Hobby, job, career, vocation… they’re all different, right? I think part of the problem where people get stuck or even traumatized on the career path is that they mix all these things up.” – Elizabeth Gilbert. Maybe, your job should just be your job? Listen in (and maybe take some pressure off).
  • Tuesday Tips & Tools – Have you talked with a K grad (or two, or three) about their career path? Connecting online is easy! Join Jackie Srodes and Richard Sylvester from the CCPD, virtually, as we show you how to use online interactive tools, including Wisr and LinkedIn and how to use self-introductions to meet individuals in a variety of fields of interest.
  • Wednesday Watch & ListenCareer*ish Episode 0
  • Thursday To-Do – Under ordinary circumstances, it’s difficult to sort out a career path. Add all the uncertainty caused by a global pandemic? It’s easy to freeze in place! Instead, take some time to reflect on who you are and what you believe. That’s most important. And, it can provide you with a sense of direction that you need to take the next step forward. Try out the Building a Compass exercise from Burnett & Evan’s book “Designing your Life.”
  • Friday Focus – We’ve asked K alums to talk about their careers and how they use Design Thinking in their work and in their lives. Listen to Xian Gu, a French and English major from the class of 2010, talk about how she uses Design Thinking in her work as a User Experience Researcher at Microsoft.

Week 4

  • Monday MotivationFinding Joy During The Coronavirus Crisis
  • Tuesday Tips & Tools – Graduating from college or otherwise applying for your first professional job is stressful in any circumstance. But it feels especially daunting when the economy, the job market, and the world in general seem to be turned upside down. Here are the Muse’s six helpful tips.
  • Wednesday Watch & Listen – This week, Richard from Career*ish sits down with Dr. Kenlana Ferguson (K counseling center) to talk about her career journey— starting from changing her undergrad major three times to getting her Ph.D. We also talk about how to stay mentally healthy during a global pandemic and the many resources the K College counseling center has to support students while they cannot come to campus due to COVID-19. Available wherever you get your podcasts.
  • Thursday To-Do – Career coaches at the CCPD sometimes utilize career assessments with students, NOT as a prescription for “exactly what you should do” but as a place to start a conversation. Looking for some guidance? Check out the resources for free career assessments.
  • Friday Focus – The whole phrase ‘the new normal’ is kind of an oxymoron, because if it’s new, it’s not normal. And if it’s normal, then it’s been around for a while. — Bill Burnett Have you ever heard of something called a gravity problem? While the COVID-19 pandemic is a “wicked problem,” the social distanced life that you now lead is a “gravity problem.” It is simply a situation or fact of life, that, just like gravity, cannot be solved. So what CAN you do? According to design thinkers, the only response to a gravity problem is acceptance. In fact, the Designing your Life professors, Bill Burnett and Dave Evans argue that the first step in design thinking is to accept the circumstances that you cannot change. Check out: Designing Your Covid Life: and Are you Fighting Gravity?

Week 5

  • Monday Motivation – “We don’t laugh at scary things because we don’t understand their seriousness… we laugh because they’re serious. Making jokes gives us a sense of power over the threat.” – Yes, Make Coronavirus Jokes
  • Tuesday Tips & Tools – We have two options for interviewing practice: one you can do anytime on your own–Big Interview, and one (new!) where you can practice with alumni via Wisr! We now have more than 200 alumni in Wisr who have offered to provide virtual mock interviews to students! Learn more about both of these options.
  • Wednesday Watch & Listen – Many workplaces have become increasingly lonely, even before the coronavirus pandemic made more of us literally remote. It’s not just an unpleasant feeling—loneliness can hurt our health and our job performance. Find out why it’s time for happy hours to finally die—and how it might take less than a minute to start building real connections.
  • Thursday To-DoMake Handshake work for you! Having trouble getting started using Handshake? Don’t try to do it all in one day! Instead, kick off your career future with a simple challenge, spread out into small steps over “The 10-Day Handshake Profile Challenge”
  • Friday Focus – “Don’t hold yourself accountable to perfection. Pick small tasks and accomplish them. If you get 80% of them done, you’ve had a great day.” –Bill Burnett There is so much uncertainty and so many unknowns that it’s hard to be motivated to do much of anything right now (let alone Design your New Normal!). Design Thinking gurus Dave Evans and Bill Burnett once again offer us valuable advice on how to successfully inch forward in this 2 minute video: Designing Your Covid Life: Set the Bar Low, and Clear it.

Week 6

  • Monday Motivation – Need a laugh? Check out this collection of terrible interviews from The Office: And remember, you have access to our Big Interview platform 24/7, along with career coaches and 200+ alumni ready to practice interviewing with you!
  • Tuesday Tips & Tools – Want to quickly and easily increase your chances of finding the job you want on Handshake? Add your job interests to your profile. Filling out your interests is as easy as sharing your opinion with us. You can also search our job role pages to learn more about what you’d like to do. You may be thinking “What if I don’t know what I’m looking for?” That’s ok. We’ll give you some suggestions. And, like the rest of your profile information, you can always change your interests later.
  • Wednesday Watch & ListenWatch alum Brad Flaugher ’09 interview Jerrod Howlett ’09 about “his time at Google, how to motivate the youth and underrepresented groups in Computer Science… and how to make it as the manager of the future.”
  • Thursday To-Do – Did you know that you can chat with other students and recent alumni on Handshake? The messaging feature on Handshake gives you a direct line to nearly six million active students and recent alumni who are job searching, interning, or have landed their first full-time job. This network is a great resource for you to get useful advice about interviews, internships, and more.
  • Friday Focus – “I can’t find the kind of job I want” is not a solvable problem, but “how might I gain experience and skills now that set me up for the kind of job I want in the future?” sets us on the path toward idea generation and action taking. Step 2 in Design Thinking is Define. Design Thinkers will reframe a problem into a “How Might We” question to give the problem definition and clarity, setting the stage for the next step of ideation. Take time to reframe career development dilemmas into a “How Might I” question before diving back into Handshake or looking up grad programs. Kirstin Queen K’94 explains how she uses “How Might We” questions and Design Thinking in her work at Ford Motor Company in this short video. She also shares her email at the end if you’d like to contact her. For more information on How Might We questions, check out this article.

Week 7

  • Monday Motivation – “I thought I’d awaken to a world in mourning heavy clouds crowding a society storming but there’s something different on this golden morning something magical in the sunlight wide and warming” – Amanda Gorman Watch and listen as ’20 Harvard grad and National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman recites her poem “The Miracle of Morning”. Gorman gets to the heart of how we respond to crisis — including a worldwide pandemic.
  • Tuesday Tips & Tools – Looking for a job or internship and don’t know where to start (besides searching in Handshake)? Check out the recording of last week’s How to Job Search Like A Superhero.
  • Wednesday Watch & Listen This week’s episode of Career-ish features Richard and Rachel Wood answering career-related questions in an Ask Me Anything style format. This audio was recorded during a live event with the Center for International Programs.
  • Thursday To Do – Jenny Blake, a career strategist and author of Pivot, discusses job search methods in the time of COVID-19 with Andrew Seaman, the LinkedIn editor behind #GetHired.
  • Friday Focus – “Where do you see yourself in five years?” the job interviewer asks. Sigh. Who knows, right?! Especially now. In Designing Your Life, Bill & Dave suggest an exercise that is a lot more intriguing (and useful) than the traditional “five year plan.” They call it “Odyssey Planning” in which you design 3 different versions for each of the next five years of your life. Check out these guidelines to begin your Odyssey Planning, part of the next stage of Design Thinking, Ideate. To listen to some stories about how people have used these concepts for their own Wayfinding, listen to this episode of Shankar Vedantum’s Hidden Brain podcast.

Week 8

  • Monday Motivation – “How to Stay Optimistic When Everything Seems Wrong” Optimism isn’t about ignoring negative feelings. It’s about being hopeful about the future, even when the present seems wholly negative.
  • Tuesday Tips & Tools – Now available – our partnership with Parker Dewey! Micro-Internships provide a tremendous opportunity for college students. Not only can you explore different career paths and work on interesting assignments, but you can also demonstrate your abilities to potential employers while building your professional portfolio and network. Beyond that, your academic experience will improve as you apply what is taught in the classroom to the real world (and vice versa). Oh, did we forget to mention that you get paid for all of this? Check it out!
  • Wednesday Watch & Listen – New Episode of Career-ish is now live! This week Richard sits down with alum Drew Brockington ’04 to talk about how he built a successful career using the skills he learned as an art and art history major. Drew now runs a successful small business as a children’s book author and illustrator. During our conversation they to talk about his time at K, what he did after college, and how he eventually found his current career path and broke through and got his first book published. They also talk about a new comic book project he is working on for D.C. Comics and we also chat about Star Wars and their mutual love of The Mandalorian.”
  • Thursday To Do – We’ve been getting a lot of questions on how to keep going and stay motivated to find an internship or a job after graduation during “these unprecedented times”. So here’s three to-do’s, in under three minutes. #UnprecedentedTimesIsGettingOld
  • Friday Focus – “What if we think about informational interviewing not as research, or as networking, but as trying on a new life for an hour?” –Melissa Dagleish This COVID life can be lonely and isolating, so why not take this time to reach out to people you find interesting and have some virtual “life design conversations?” The next stage in Designing your Life is to prototype. It’s incredibly difficult right now to have career prototyping experiences such as internships or job shadows, but you can have “prototype conversations.” You’ve heard them called “informational interviews,” but Bill and Dave call them “life design conversations.” Listen to them describe the value of these conversations in this short video Designing your Covid Life: Prototyping your Way to a Better Future – For more tips to get started, check out this post, Try on Someone’s Life – Where can you find some interesting people to start? Well, besides friends, neighbors, extended family, as well as staff and faculty at K, what about alumni? As we’ve mentioned before, use Wisr, the Kalamazoo College Career Mentoring Network, to find and reach out to alumni in all sorts of fields and industries. Alumni would be happy to hear from you!

Week 9

  • Monday Motivation – Can I complain about coronavirus? Why it is OK to vent, sometimes.
  • Tuesday Tips & Tools – Andrew Seaman, Editor for Job Seekers & #GetHired at LinkedIn News, asks “Should you wait for the right job? Or, should you accept any job?
  • Wednesday Watch & Listen – New episode of Career-ish! Richard says, “This week I sit down with alumna Amanda Moss ’19 to talk about how she built a successful career for her self in professional sports. We talk about how she landed not one but two internships with the NBA, her current job with the NFL, and what it was like to go to this year’s Super Bowl.”
  • Thursday To Do – Experts now disagree on advice surrounding finding your next steps in the age of COVID-19. Should you just find a job, any job? Mark Cuban shares his thoughts in this episode of Dan Roth’s “This Is Working” podcast. Give it a listen. What do you think?
  • Friday Focus – There are two ways to find a job. The first is transactional–apply for lots of jobs and hope you hear something back. The second way is relational, and it may be the only way to break into this tight job market. In this video, Dave and Bill talk about this relational way to build and use your network to find the 4 out of 5 jobs that are never posted. This is the final stage in design thinking: test. To test out your ideas about work, you need an experience. Traditionally this is a job or an internship, but it can also be a project or a micro-internship or a side hustle, and it even can be done remotely. And remember that Designing your Life is an iterative process, and you’ll spend your life bouncing around from step to step. And there are many more tools to use at each stage. Check out these two articles for more tools and ideas: Career Development: Creating an Action Plan with Design Thinking and Design Thinking Methods for Career Planning.

Week 10

  • Monday Motivation – On this episode of FOMOsapiens, Yael Melamed, a psychotherapist and executive coach, explains how she cultivates spirituality, humor, and resilience in the face of adversity – lessons she learned from a wide-ranging career that started in business. Melamed says that tragedy and hardship can be powerful opportunities for personal growth.
  • Tuesday Tips & Tools – Not only do CCPD’s services never expire for alumni, we are also available for career coaching over the summer. Get in touch when it works for you! Remember, our COVID-19 Resource Hub is available online 24/7.
  • Wednesday Watch & Listen – John Legend is just one of the many celebrities that have shared their thoughts for the Class of 2020 with the Commencement Podcast on iHeartRadio. As the world continues to navigate life with COVID-19, Legend shared a message about resilience and love for others.
  • Thursday To Do – “Any conversation that you have with another person for the foreseeable future will at least touch on the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Job interviews are no different. Recruiters and hiring managers may even ask questions related to the global health crisis.” – Andrew Seaman Read more:
  • Friday Focus – As we wrap up our series on using design thinking to tackle the wicked problem of designing your life, we hope that you’ve found some useful tools to use. As a review, here’s the 4 step version of Bill and Dave’s Designing Your Life model: Get curious, Talk to people, Try stuff, Tell your story. As you continue through your own processes of empathize, define, ideate, prototype and test as you develop your life and career, we want to zoom back out to how Design Thinking is used to tackle wicked problems of all shapes and sizes. Listen to Bridget Jones ’91 talk about how the final stage of “test” actually happens in a real life example of large-scale change management at Whole Foods. What about the wicked problem of COVID-19? Check out this article by a UX designer, Miklos Philips from the UK: COVID-19: The Ultimate Design Thinking Use Case.