A summary of reflections from the 2020-2021 annual member survey on the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and other issues affecting the nation.
In March 2021, there was plenty of dialogue regarding the one-year anniversary of the Covid-19 lockdowns. Many of us can remember the moment we received the news that we would be sheltering in place to help prevent the rampant spread of the virus. Several of us had to get used to working at home and tending to our kids or other family members while juggling our everyday lives. Looking back on things, we can argue that our usual way of life had changed dramatically.
In the final months of 2020, we had the opportunity of conducting The Alumni Society annual member survey. Part of what we wanted to uncover was the impact Covid-19 had on our members. In all, we had over 110 respondents, many of whom came from various demographic and socioeconomic backgrounds. The information they shared regarding their experiences with Covid-19 described both hardship and resilience.
Overall, over 60% of our respondents noted that Covid-19 had, in fact, negatively impacted their career prospects. Many of our members felt their careers were put on hold and hindered due to budget cuts and limited opportunities to interact and engage with co-workers. One member noted that it “set their business in tech back 6-9 months”. A working mom added that it slowed her professional advancement “to juggle virtual schools and aging parents,” along with her job demands.
There were, however, several members who saw their career prospects improve. About 36% of members noted a significant improvement. One member mentioned the improved opportunities of remote work as they began a new role outside their hometown. Another commented that their business saw “exponential growth” because of the enhanced demand for their specific services.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, one month into the national lockdowns, we saw the most significant monthly increase of unemployment in the history of data. Fortunately, that rate continued to decline as we neared the end of the year. By late December/early January 2021, approximately 11% of The Alumni Society members were unemployed, which was a little over 4% of the national unemployment average. Fortunately, over 80% of the membership remained employed. There was also a slight increase in the number of members attending a university and entering retirement compared to years past.
One significant silver lining throughout all of last year was that our members remained committed to serving others regardless of the difficulties. Close to 57% of our members continued volunteering for an educational or charitable program, along with 40% who served on a non-profit board. There were countless stories of members going above and beyond in helping their local communities by providing socially distanced support in person or remotely with their neighbors, friends, and family members.
One of the most consistent characteristics of The Alumni Society’s members is their ability to overcome obstacles. Many of our members are the first in their family to attend a four-year college or university institution. Several have had to overcome language and cultural barriers to succeed in school and the workplace. If you listen to the conversations taking place at our events or zoom “Happy Hours,” you hear inspiring stories of people committed to making a difference in their homes, workplaces, and communities.
So, although this past year has been challenging for many of us, it has been encouraging to know that the Alumni Society members have remained strong and committed to improving their lives and those around them.
– Sergio Fernández, Advisory Board Member, The Alumni Society
Written in April 2021 for The Alumni Society. Members are encouraged to take the 2021-2022 Annual Member Survey here.