During the novel coronavirus pandemic, first responders are on the front line. That means we’re hit harder, and quarantines are possible. If you’ve been sent home, it’s a good time to focus on your career. Last week, we shared the first five of ten steps to tend to your firefighter career during the coronavirus pandemic. Today, we’re back with steps six through ten. Read, bookmark, and get started!
Take the time to research the professional magazines available to you as a firefighter. Pick one you like and hit subscribe. Set time aside each week or every shift to read. It’s a great way to stay in touch with your industry and you’ll probably learn a thing or two that will help you on the job someday.
Networking matters — even for firefighters. It may not be obvious now, but over the course of your career, networking with other firefighters can make a huge difference. If social media isn’t your thing, rest assured that LinkedIn is a little different. It’s a networking tool that will help you build connections in your industry. You’ll be able to make contacts at other departments that may be a useful resource down the road. If nothing else, firefighters from outside your department will expose you to new and different things. One great feature of LinkedIn is the ability to search firefighters in the position or rank to which you aspire — you can reach out to them directly for mentoring.
Getting a college degree has never been easier or cheaper than it is right now. If you don’t have a four-year or post-graduate degree, there really is no excuse not to further your education. Use the research you did building your career plan to find the required degree for the position you want, or turn to your LinkedIn connections for advice. Then, research online schools and investigate enrollment at the one that best suits your needs. Make it a priority to sign up and pay for the first class — you need to really commit to getting started. Remember — the sooner you start, the sooner you finish.
Health and fitness should be a priority for all firefighters — it’s a required and necessary part of our occupation. We are professional athletes, and we never know when we are going to have to perform at our highest level. But the benefits of fitness go way beyond work. It will reduce your stress and improve your overall health, which just plain makes life easier. If you don’t already have a fitness plan and a consistent schedule, make one now — and then follow through.
Having a support network to help you when you need it is an important element of a long and healthy firefighter career. Who better to support you than the same people who endured the same intense academy experience? If you’ve lost touch, now is the time to reach out. It’s another kind of networking — but this is personal.
Staying home in a crisis isn’t easy, and as a country, we’re all feeling the effects of stay-at-home orders. For firefighters and other first responders, it’s even harder. So until you can get back to work, put your time to good use. Follow these ten steps to tend to your firefighter career during the coronavirus pandemic — it’s an excellent use of your time.