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Opening doors: Camille Duckett navigates shift from contract worker to employee during pandemic

Former Cal Poly swimmer doubles down to land employment during challenging times

Camille Duckett Then and Now (Photo credits: Cal Poly, Camille Duckett)

Key takeaways

  • LinkedIn’s #OpenToWork photo frame
    Turning on this feature helps make your LinkedIn profile stand out in searches. It lets anyone viewing your profile know you are open to new opportunities and can help you connect with them. 
  • Train hard for a career change
    Gain new skills, earn a professional certification or advanced degree, and build your own job-search team by connecting with others who can help you in your journey.
  • Independent contract worker versus employee
    Do your research on the pros and cons of hiring in as a temporary contract worker or as a full-time employee. Contract work in your chosen profession might open the door to your dream job. If stability is high on your needs list, full-time employment may suit you best.

In March, Camille Duckett was assistant coaching the Calabasas Waves’ seventh and eighth grade swim team at Viewpoint, an independent K-12 school in Calabasas, California. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Duckett’s coaching dynamics immediately changed. 

“I wasn’t expecting the pandemic to discontinue our use of the pool,” the former swimmer at Cal Poly said. Laps in the pool became dry-land workouts via Zoom where she led her team through exercises to build power and strength for when competitive swimming resumed. However, budget cuts followed, and Duckett’s contract with the Waves was not renewed. 

One of Duckett’s biggest challenges in the marketplace has been overcoming the stigma of her multiple contract jobs since college. A graduate in graphic communication with an emphasis on design, she was used to her work being temporary and saw her roles as stops on a path to a more stable income and career. To help, she’s expanding her design skills and tapping her network.

To gain visibility in a crowded job seekers’ market, Duckett tapped a free job search tool available to all on LinkedIn, the Open-to-Work photo frame feature. As a visually oriented person, she is aware of how this feature can help anyone who sees her profile quickly know she is open to new opportunities. 

“Coaching part time while trying to break into the graphic design profession hasn’t been easy. I want to get into graphic design in the tech industry, but it’s competitive, and designers are commonly hired as temp workers,” Duckett said. 

“The swimming community has been very supportive in my search for full-time work, and now I’m looking for work in a new industry, perhaps legal or medical,” she said.

Through it all, Duckett has learned to trust her gut and to pay attention to how people treat each other in business. She also has carved out time for herself and her future by taking UCLA Extension courses in design and art.
“Athletes have grit and perseverance, and push to and through the finish line,” Duckett says.

These traits and more help college athletes stand apart in today’s competitive job market. 

Former Cal Poly swimmer Camille Duckett earned a bachelor’s degree in graphic communication and art in 2014. While seeking new employment, she is taking design and art courses toward a certificate in user experience (UX) through UCLA Extension.