University. Graduation. Job. That’s exactly how I had mapped out my 2020. But campus closed down, graduation was postponed, and the start date for my job has been moved back. Furlough and possible redundancies are words that are striking fear in the hearts of all upcoming university graduates. However, Covid-19 and the consequent lockdown should not be seen as a blockade in our career journeys, but rather a bump in the road.
Starting my career has been a long time coming. Halfway through my third year, I secured a job with a company I have had two paid internships with the past couple of summers. During my internships, I showed the company they needed someone who could write content, blogs and articles for them. They asked to meet me for a chat in December. I walked out with a job offer and a huge smile on my face.
The company was based in my hometown of Cambridge, meaning I would move out of university accommodation and back home to start working. I signed my contract in January and everything appeared to be set for my start on June 1st. However, Coronavirus has certainly shaken up my plans. Starting work has been pushed back until late Autumn and I have felt very anxious about my career and job prospects, particularly now we are entering an economic crash.
For the best part of a week I was at a loss, I did not know how best to occupy my time until I could begin my new role. It is so easy to binge watch TV series and sit idly while waiting for lockdown restrictions to relax. Particularly because we have worked solidly at university with not much time available to relax and winddown. Studying fatigue from constantly working while at university is a prevalent issue for so many upcoming university graduates.
Instead of viewing lockdown as a working hiatus, I realised how important it is to keep our studying momentum up and work towards our professional development. I asked myself some questions – What remote internships are being advertised currently? Are there any online courses or seminars you could sign up for? How many podcasts have been produced about the effects of Covid-19 by companies in your industry? Maybe it’s time to freshen up your CV and hone in on your cover letter writing skills? There are so many resources which are floating about online, it so important to utilise this information while I’ve got the time to learn during lockdown.
I’ve attended and registered to join lots of webinars and workshops by the Content Marketing Association (which I am a student member of) and The Student Opportunities Festival which begins the first week of July. These sessions range from advice about freelance working, to tips on content creation and help with time management. I’ve also listened to quite a few podcasts about the media industry and the property industry, as these are the industries I will be working in when I begin my graduate role. Next Week I’m taking part in a virtual Internship on Business, Operations and Marketing. Lockdown should not be seen as a hinderance!
Seize this opportunity to work on your transferable skillset, learn more about your chosen industry and gain insight into how companies are going to survive in the post-pandemic working world.
Personally, the current lockdown has given me the time I needed to get my list of admin jobs in check. I updated my LinkedIn profile, created an e-mail address for my freelancing, pitched numerous blogs and articles, and uploaded my latest pieces on my website. Are there jobs like this that you’ve been putting off simply because you’ve not had the time? Now is your chance to tick these tasks off your to do list. I have felt so productive now these small jobs are complete, particularly because they are all in some part relevant to my career and professional development. It’s also given me time to familiarise myself with working remotely.
Thankfully, the company I have my graduate job with had fully adopted agile working in their office environment before the pandemic struck the nation. Every employee used a Microsoft Surface as their work computer and Microsoft Teams was being in the process of being adopted within the company’s separate departments. It is clearly really important to adapt the way you work – so being familiar with Microsoft Teams, Skype and Zoom will ensure there are less hurdles for you to jump over when beginning to work in the post-pandemic world. Finishing my degree in lockdown and writing several articles has enabled me to work at home productively and also taught me to be increasingly resilient when technology lets me down. Fingers crossed that I can thrive whilst working remotely when I begin my new role.
By utilising our time effectively to grow our transferable skill sets, we are sending a message to recruiters and employers. Exhibiting how we’ve used our initiatives to improve upon ourselves, but also to gain skills, will show companies that we are resilient and hard working. So, yes, the pandemic has made our graduation and career starts rocky, but the world has not stopped completely – it’s only a bump in the road.