I graduated from college in May of 2018. Unlike my friends, I continued on to Graduate School, as I wasn’t quite ready yet to start working, and found a degree that I was excited about. After 5 1/2 years of school, I finished in December of 2019 with a Masters of Art degree. As we all know, this is when rumors of coronavirus started circulating: three months later, in March of 2020, and everything changed. No one could have foreseen the immense amount of unemployment (as I write this, currently at 26.5 million) in the past five weeks, due to the coronavirus pandemic. It goes without saying that this number is discouraging, even for those who have been in the workforce.
Originally, this article was pitched as a way to help college seniors navigate searching for a job after graduation. Instead, I’ve complied tips to stay positive about job prospects during this time. Although it certainly isn’t easy, things will open back up, and we are all still learning how to adapt to the changed workforce. For all those whose job opportunities have been put on pause indefinitely, or had internships cancelled, there is still hope. Continue reading for ways to maneuver the situation as a graduate/college student in a Corona world.
Reach out to your network
- While I was in school, I interned and did freelance work in the design industry. Reaching out to these companies and networking with a former boss or colleague is a way to learn of possible job or hiring opportunities.
- Although in-person events are indefinitely cancelled for some time, networking online is your best bet. Connect with recruiters through LinkedIn, or join Facebook events and groups that are geared to the industry you are interested in.
- Your university or school networks are a great start as well. Reach out to past faculty or professors to help build your network and strengthen relationships.
Make a list
- If you’re interested in a particular company or firm, start putting together a list of those that you admire and can see yourself being a part of. Send out feelers: although that particular company might not be hiring right away, it’s good to have your resume or portfolio on hand if they are looking to do so in the future.
- Some companies don’t always post that they are hiring. It doesn’t hurt to reach out and inquire. Make sure you state that you understand the current situation, and lead with empathy: many companies are overwhelmed, and HR mangers do not need someone pressuring or hounding them for jobs 24/7.
- Making a list to help narrow down which companies you want to work for, and why, can make things a bit easier for you, and save you some time as well.
Learn a new skill, or enhance an old one
Many have been using this time to learn new skills, or finally get better at a language that they’ve been putting off for years. Try tailoring your new skill to jobs you are looking for: this could mean taking graphic design courses, finally learning how to use Photoshop, or taking a class on Marketing Communications. Hubspot is currently offering free advertising toolkits, which are super helpful when trying to learn how to maintain an online presence. Duolingo is my go-to for learning a new language because it’s just so easy and quick to pick up anywhere, but Rosetta Stone is also offering free courses to students that are definitely worth trying out
Honing in on skills that you might not have tried or thought about before is a great way to maximize your time. It adds to your resume, and builds up development and personal skills as well.
Adjust to Virtual for awhile
Even when things do manage to get back to some sort of normalcy, many companies might still decide to work from home. While this might be challenging to acclimate to, virtual and remote work is the new normal. Looking for opportunities in this realm might make it easier for you as well. Some virtual opportunities include freelance writing and copywriting, virtual executive assistant, or social media/content creators. These jobs allow you to work from anywhere, and are industries that are continuing to hire currently.
Access your situation
While finding a full-time design position was challenging before Covid-19, I was fortunate to utilize other abilities to make money in the meantime. My work as a model, writer and working for myself as a designer was how I kept things going while I was searching for full-time positions. Now that things have changed, I’ve been focusing more on writing and growing my personal design studio. This has kept me busy, as well as looking for new ways to generate passive income.
Studies have shown that graduates in 2008, when the Great Recession hit, were less likely to obtain jobs in industries they had majored in, accepted lower paying jobs in order to enter the workforce, and often feel as if they are playing catch-up with their peers, even years later. While our current situation is certainly different, there are correlations. Knowing that your first job might not be something you necessarily consider a “dream job,” and understanding that the situation is not something that you can control, are important thoughts to keep in mind. What are other skills, and opportunities, you can focus on to keep you occupied and ready for when things resume?
Patience is key
Realizing that we do not have control over the current situation is probably the hardest part. Who really knows when things will open back up? For the time being, job hunting might take some time. Some hiring managers and HR teams are still adjusting to working from home and managing employees, while simultaneously trying to figure out things in their own life, or caring for sick loved ones. You never know what others are going through. Understanding that the situation is not personal, and will likely take longer than usual, will help ease the process and/or stress you might be feeling.
As we all adjust to the current climate and situation, it might seem pointless to continue job hunting. However, its important to keep going. Ready your portfolio, resume and cover letter. Stay ahead of trends and topics, and focus on the things you can control during this time. A good strategy to keep in mind might include applying to one job a day, or 5-8 a week. This helps alleviate the stress of trying to apply to numerous jobs a day, and spreads it out over a given amount of time, allowing you to focus on other things as well. Utilizing the tips above with this strategy will help manage this as well, and hopefully you’ll be starting a new position pretty soon!
Taj Cutting is an interior and experience designer who loves to travel. When not exploring the world, she enjoys writing, kickboxing classes and eating more Mediterranean food than she can manage!