Perspective, you’re at home, you have a home….and still, have everything you NEED. So when we come out of this, you should find so much joy in knowing that everything else is privilege and complaints about a lot of things are trivial. You have found some certainty in such an uncertain time, there’s hope in that!
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Many of us now have new challenges that come with working from home, homeschooling, and sheltering in place.
As a part of my series about how women leaders in tech and STEM are addressing these new needs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Adrian McClanahan
Adrian McClanahan is a mother, a wife, and a network control center engineer, holding a Bachelor’s degree in Network Information Systems from (insert university) and I’m CompTIA A+ (which is hardware) certified. She also teaches low level coding courses for kids at the Prince George’s County Southern Regional Technology and Recreation Complex. With a genuine love for technology and all things surrounding it, Adrian took that passion and created budding technology blog, ChicDivaGeek.com.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
Thank you for wanting to talk with me! I don’t have a magical “I always knew what I wanted to do” story. fell into IT on accident, I took general education courses and an intro hardware course was one, and it was something that I just took to. After that, I was like I found something that really held my interest, something I wanted to learn more about! So I switched to a technology-specific school (TESST College of Technology) and went for my Associate’s first so that I could work in the field while I went for my Bachelor’s degree.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started at your company?
The most interesting thing that’s happened since I worked at my current company…Bill Gates attended a meeting there that I was supporting and had to keep my inner nerd fan in check and continue doing my job
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Currently, my primary job’s focus is to maintain our current systems to support our fully remote staff at the moment. As it relates to my tech blog, I’m digging and making sure I share technology tips and ideas that’ll help my readers and friends stay connected while social distancing. I’m also lending my website building expertise where I can like a lot of people are using this stillness to finally launch that “thing” they’ve been sitting on.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
This is so true! We cannot get anywhere alone. Particularly as a woman in tech it’s extremely hard. I personally know that I wouldn’t be on the operations side of IT in the data center if it weren’t for my helpdesk supervisor (a male) and director (an older female). They both supported my continued learning outside of my daily duties and were the biggest voices for me to cross over once they realized I had hit my ceiling on the user support side. Like in meetings, in rooms I wasn’t in they were advocating for me, there’s absolutely no way I would’ve made it this far without them.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Can you articulate to our readers what are the biggest family related challenges you are facing as a woman in STEM during this pandemic?
Whew, COVID-19 has turned what know as normal life on its head! The biggest family challenges for me are working from home and managing a school day/workload for our son. It’s hard to maintain that balance and sense of routine when it essentially doesn’t exist, our environment never changes, so it all runs together and that’s mentally taxing for sure.
Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
So to help, I have all my work-related things (laptop, printer, planners, notepads, etc) all in my home office, I get up out of bed and “go” to work in there. So my family knows when I’m in there I’m working. For our son, we make him get up and pick the subject he wants to work on and make him do that for a few hours. (The school district here doesn’t start distance learning for a couple more weeks.) My husband can’t work remote so he finds things around the house that we haven’t had time to do. After our day is over we always make time to do some things as a family in the evening, so games, watch a movie but something.
Can you share the biggest work-related challenges you are facing as a woman in STEM during this pandemic?
Biggest work challenge…addressing urgent or mandatory work issues and trying to control expectations of output as we all work remotely.
Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
I make sure that I am constantly communicating work/project statuses, and also making sure we evaluate the necessity of projects or work tasks during this time. We can’t expect the same level of output or workflow as we’re not all in the same place physically or able to access everything. Doing what can be done and tabling what can’t is the best way to manage it.
Can you share your advice about how to best work from home, while balancing the needs of homeschooling or the needs of a family?
I’m still figuring it out myself but the best way to do it is to block out “work hours” and when that time is up, remember to disconnect (not just in the metaphorical sense) but cut your computer off and step away. Block scheduling has been helping when it comes to schooling because realistically mapping out every minute of every day is adding more stress on everyone it won’t help. And when a family needs comes up during work hours, tackle it, it’s ok to do that, go with the flow of the day.
Can you share your strategies about how to stay sane and serene while sheltering in place for long periods with your family?
Give each other space, yes we’re all in the house together but we all like to do different things. My son has video games, I love sci-fi/fantasy shows and movies, my husband loves a good documentary. We all do things together like board or card games (Phase 10 is a family favorite) and we eat dinner together and then there’s a time in the day where we all just go to areas of the house and do our own things.
Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
5 reasons to be hopeful during this Corona Crisis….
- Tough times don’t last always, cliché but true, this started and so it’s going to end. Remember H1N1? SARS? They came and they went now they didn’t reach this level but still
- There’s action being taken…As daunting as this seems and we’re battered by news updates and changes every day, there’s reassurance in knowing that something is being done
- Faith, because in a time fraught with uncertainty leaning on my faith, my faith leaders, has helped me to check my anxiety, my fears because my faith in God was here before this, has seen me through so much already and will be hereafter, there’s peace in that.
- Perspective, you’re at home, you have a home….and still, have everything you NEED. So when we come out of this, you should find so much joy in knowing that everything else is privilege and complaints about a lot of things are trivial. You have found some certainty in such an uncertain time, there’s hope in that!
- Shift, if we take away nothing else from this pandemic and being shut-in, it’s that there’s a clear and unprecedented shift happening. Our society won’t be the same after this in how we interact because of the ways we’ve had to adapt to tech. But it also has made us be kinder to one another, extend grace to one another
From your experience, what are a few ideas that we can use to effectively offer support to our family and loved ones who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
Some ways you can effectively offer support to family friends who are feeling anxious are to 1) find out what is triggering the anxiety, or making them anxious. If you know they get anxious about going to the store, then offer to get the things they need when you make your essential runs. If it’s the constant updates from the media, maybe help them disable their notifications. Another tip make sure you’re not the one “over informing” your friends and family. That’s easy to end up doing during a time like this. If you know that the situation overall is making them anxious talk about other things when you call or text them, change the subject. Give them suggestions to help take their mind off of it, suggest or send them books to read or shows to watch.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My favorite life lesson quote is from my friend Adama. “Overthinking creates problems that don’t exist and ignores possibilities that do” THIS quote has helped me literally almost daily when I get overwhelmed with my to-do lists, the things I have to get done or want to get done, it centers me. When I’m worried about the long-lasting impacts of our current crisis, it reminds me to just focus on today. As a woman in tech, a mom and a wife, I have a ton of roles, some with actual titles others societal, but it can be overwhelming so this helps me focus when I start to wander into that space.
How can our readers follow you online?
I’m @ChicDivaGeek on Instagram and Twitter and my website is www.chicdivageek.com I’m on LinkedIn: Adrian McClanahan
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!