Where to begin? These are certainly challenging times due to COVID-19. Perhaps you find yourself adapting to online classes for the first time? Maybe you were excited about a summer internship or job opportunity, but now you are starting to question what that job will look like, or if it will still happen? Perhaps you’re a senior that has taken a few online courses, but now you find yourself completing your coursework surrounded by siblings and parents who aren’t familiar with the demands of college courses? I know that there are seniors out there who were looking forward to their moment in the sun as they walked across the stage this May, who now may be a little disheartened about their future job prospects.
If any of these situations resonated with you, the career consultants at the Fleishman Center understand and are here for you. As a career consultant that supports the diverse needs of students, I am going to provide you with some tips to help you make the best of quarantine life.
Breathe. Self-care is even more important than it was before. If you are feeling anxious or overwhelmed, take a moment to lean into it, but don’t let those feelings consume you. You might feel even more pressure to find jobs or internship opportunities during this time, but remember to take breaks and time for yourself. Write, draw, paint, sing, or whatever your outlet is. If you are feeling bogged down about lost job opportunities or online course expectations, take a step back to focus on what you can control.
Don’t lose sight of your career goals. Sometimes it might feel hard to stay motivated about your career goals- I get it. However, you’ll want to start accessing your goals to figure out creative ways you can achieve them. You may even find yourself setting new goals! Now is the time to take initiative: be creative and problem solve. If you are having trouble getting started, reach out to a friend, family member or career consultant for advice. It’s always helpful to have someone to bounce ideas off of.
One of the best actions you can take during this time is keeping a routine and a schedule. Establishing daily habits will help you get on track and feel productive and focused. Start by setting small goals each day and go from there.
Be adaptable and open to opportunities. Some of you may have had your heart set on a dream job or company. Maybe you just heard that an internship that was going to lead you on a path to that goal, has been canceled or moved to a remote position, or you are simply the kind of student that really enjoys hands-on work. Whatever situation you find yourself in, now is the time to be adaptable and open to new opportunities. Focus on jobs as an opportunity to build transferable skills that you can apply to any future field or position of interest. COVID-19 has caused healthcare workers, data specialists, researchers and scientists, and communications specialists to be in high demand. Think about how you can market yourself in these fields.
Be a realistic optimist. I would be lying to you if I told you that looking for a job or internship at this moment, is going to be easy. We are going through some tough and uncertain times. Knowing that there will be challenges is essential. That said, be as optimist as you can be. Continue to search for jobs, reach out to your current network or attempt to expand your network, and create an online professional presence on LinkedIn or YouTube. You might hit dead ends and obstacles, but I can promise you something will work out. Putting the work in will make job offers even more rewarding when the time comes. Don’t give up!
Learn new skills. If you are quarantining and social distancing, you are going to have more time on your hands. If you are in a household that only has one computer/laptop/tablet or you have to take on the responsibility of looking after your siblings, you’ll find you might have less time. Similarly, some parents might think you are on a break from school or lack the understanding that you must continue your personal growth despite the circumstance we find ourselves in. In these cases, have a conversation with your parents about the importance of utilizing your internship source and free time to continue to develop your skills.
Use your time to continue to develop your communication, time management, technical skills, language, and writing skills. Seek out articles about professional development on reputable websites such as The Muse. Practice your communication by starting a blog or YouTube channel. Utilize free educational online resources to learn technical skills such as Python, Microsoft Excel, and photo and video editing. Developing your skills will always have a positive impact on your future.
Utilize your virtual network. Perhaps you are used to face-to-face networking settings like in-person job fairs. Now that we are all spending most of our time inside be sure to continue to communicate with professionals to expand your network. Take some time to perfect your LinkedIn profile so you can stand out to employers. Use Zoom to schedule informational interviews. Reach out to alumni that work for organizations of interest to see if they will take some time to speak to you. Most of you FaceTime or text your friends, use that knowledge for professional outreach. Talking to more people during these times might help you feel less alone, too.
Schedule an appointment with a Career Consultant.
Career services don’t stop! The Fleishman Center is fully functional and is here to support all of your career and professional development needs. Students can schedule a same-day Zoom appointment in hireBING to speak with a career consultant and get assistance with any career-related topic: career exploration, job or internship search, mock interviews and interview prep, building your network virtually, resume, CV or cover letter reviews, and more!
Beyond this, we will continue to think of innovative ways to support your career service needs!
Though I can’t change the uncertainty of these times, one thing that I am confident in is the Fleishman Center staff is here for you. I understand if it takes you some time to schedule an appointment as you adapt to unfamiliar territory. We are all navigating these changes together. Whenever you’re ready the Fleishman Center staff are here to support you. Remember, you got this!
Show everyone how adaptable and creative Gen. Z can be!
Related article for our seniors: Graduating College during a Pandemic? Don’t Worry Seniors, We Got Your Back- Signed America