How I have survived the COVID-19 pandemic (so far)

  • Published July 13th 2020

Approximately 2 months ago, I published a blog post about maintaining motivation as a furloughed employee. At that time, I had been furloughed for one month and was beginning to find it difficult to stay active within my software engineering field. I had noted some thoughts that I felt would be helpful to others in a similar situation. Today, two months after writing that post, I would like to reflect on and share my successes since then.

One month after being furloughed, I knew I had become bored when I decided to enter a competition to design a beer pin logo for a brewery in the UK. Although I knew a few shortcuts in Photoshop, it was something of a tall order to think that I could jump into Illustrator and come up with something spectacular. Eventually, I came up with something that I quite liked but sadly did not make the cut.

My unsuccessful entry to design a beer pin graphic for a brewery in Bedford.

I decided it was time to look for new projects. I reached out to my LinkedIn network and offered my services to anyone that could use my help. I was surprised at the response I had received. It started with a number of people resharing my plea and was followed by a large number of connections making contact with me directly.

I shared a post to my LinkedIn network offering my skills to anyone with a project that needed assistance.

To further my attempts at finding a project to keep myself busy, I had signed myself up to become a Furlonteer. Furlonteer is a group that were founded to match furloughed employees with charities in need. I was quickly paired with a charity based in Bradford called NAFS.

With NAFS, I spent the next two months rebranding their charity, supplying new assets for their social media and digital streams while also building a website to host their content and event pages. You can read more about this project on my NAFS project page.

NAFS logo
NAFS’ logo – one part of the project to rebrand the charity.

While working with NAFS, I was asked to join the Furlonteer team as their Website Manager. Seeing the work that they were doing and having signed up to volunteer through them myself, I gladly accepted. I was excited to have two projects that would keep me engaged and give me a purpose again. You can read more about my work with Furlonteer on the Furlonteer project page.

Furlonteer Team Zoom Call

During my time with Furlonteer, a new organisation was being born. Studenteer – Furlonteer’s sister organisation designed to pair students with an active Furlonteer, was being planned and they asked me to act as a pilot for their scheme. I was paired with Daniel, a student finishing school who would be heading for University in September and who had an interest in Computer Science. Together, Daniel and I met regularly (via video calls) and worked together on the NAFS project.

I had also been able to attend many talks and conferences as most planned events at the time were being transformed into virtual meetups. I have attended talks and conferences such as:

  • Testing strategies (the benefits of TDD)
  • A company tech discussion from an employee at Nutmeg
  • Building web components
  • The Storybook workflow for app development
  • Ioniconf 2020
  • Jamstack Conf 2020

It has not all been technical progress that I have made during this period, however. My partner and I have redecorated our home office so that it no longer feels like a child’s bedroom and I have joined a mildly average pro clubs team on FIFA 20 with friends from work. Great success!

In summary, I have been able to stay active during this difficult period. I am pleased with the projects that I have been involved with and I look forward to returning to a normal way of life soon (I hope). I aim to continue on my journey of self-development and develop new skills to take with me when I can eventually return back to work.

I would like to thank everyone that has helped me stay productive during this time! I now look forward to the next few months ahead.



© Ian Holden 2020

“You’re not delivering a perfect body to the grave, time is not there to be saved” – Frank Turner