By Jodi Hersey

The COVID-19 pandemic changed life and work as we know it in Maine and around the world. For some, the shutdown we experienced in order to flatten the curve, was just the catalyst they needed to take a long, hard look at where they were personally and professionally and make a change once and for all. For Ashleigh McAlinden of Hermon, that meant saying goodbye to the medical field and jumping into the financial world with both feet. 

Taking a Chance

“I’m no spring chicken so changing my career field was scary,” McAlinden said. “I went to school to be a medical assistant and had been with Northern Light for five years, but found the medical field was not for me. I felt if I didn’t take this chance, then I could miss out on a big opportunity.” 

McAlinden’s second chance at a new career landed her at CMG Financial in Bangor as a disclosure coordinator. “I applied for the job pre-Covid, but accepted the job in March.”

Without knowing it, McAlinden’s new position aligned perfectly with her second grade son’s hybrid school set up, which had him attending in-person instruction just two days a week and learning from home on the other weekdays.

“Due to Covid, I am at-home full time,” McAlinden explained. “If it weren’t for this change, I would have had to quit my job [that I was at] so it was really a blessing in disguise.”

Now, McAlinden spends her days gathering documents together, disclosing all the financial information loan applicants would need in order to be approved. 

“The company is phenomenal. They care about their employees and I think knowing just how appreciated I am makes me want to show up for work every day. This is by far the best decision I have made for my family.”

Resetting Priorities

Before the pandemic, Jen Carlson of Bangor was already feeling the need to recalibrate her priorities since she was working more and seeing her family less. After three years as a youth development director, Carlson accepted a new challenge with Northern Light Acadia Hospital.

“Working from home is something I never thought I’d be doing in a million years and would not have, [had it not] been for the pandemic,” Carlson explained. “I can take my daughter to school and pick her up in the afternoon and be more present and available to my family.”

Carlson’s new job is coordinating a program that will allow pediatric providers in Maine, especially in rural communities, a way to connect with behavioral health providers at Northern Light Acadia Hospital for consultations, training and resources. It’s a position she’s adapted to quickly. 

“I wouldn’t say I felt stuck or unfulfilled in my previous position, but what I realized was that because of the nature of my position, I was always ‘on.’ That led to missing some very important things with my family and that wasn’t okay,” Carlson said. 

The pandemic forced many Mainers to reevaluate how and where they spend their time, but for McAlinden and Carlson it showed them a better way to balance work and family for a healthy and more fulfilling life. 

“My advice is to know what your priorities are and to make sure that you stay true to that,” Carlson said.

See this Section as it appeared in print here