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Home Routine for College Students During the Lockdown

Home Routine for College Students During the Lockdown

Did you ever think that you would need to pursue your studies sitting at home? No, not the correspondence courses, your full-time graduating major subjects. The coronavirus pandemic created havoc across the globe, forcing a new lifestyle for every individual. It led to the insurgence of an emergency state which necessitated nation-wide lockdowns everywhere. As social distancing became the new norm, college students faced newer challenges coping with it.

All higher education institutions have been temporarily closed to prevent the spread of this infectious virus. Students and teachers have had a hard time keeping up with the constant changes in the education sector because of Covid-19. To abide by the rules of social distancing during the pandemic, the digital sector came to the forefront as that became the only medium for education. As virtual learning came into the spotlight, the challenges associated with it have caused inconveniences to college students globally. If you are student of fashion designing or fashion management, you will be able to identify with the shortcomings of the pandemic on your life. We are going to discuss how to deal with those drawbacks and establish the perfect home routine that will help you define the “new normal” for yourself.

What are the challenges faced by college students during the lockdown?
The coronavirus pandemic has forced all college students to pursue their studies, their passion, from within the four walls of their house. It is undoubtedly correct that students everywhere are facing difficulty learning their lessons digitally on a daily basis. But when it comes to fashion designing and management studies, life has become especially hard. As much as we love staying online and checking our social media pages, we do not prefer remaining online to finish our lessons by straining our eyes for hours. Let us take a look at the various challenges that students face because of the global pandemic and see how many you can relate to immediately.

  • Zero Practical Learning: There are many subjects that require regular practical sessions, and fashion is the perfect example for this. You cannot expect a student pursuing fashion to learn what different fabrics feel like from a digital conference call. They need to physically touch them to fully understand their application and what kind of apparel the fabrics are best suited for. Fashion designing students also learn how to operate certain tools only when they are attending classes in college. Most colleges that offer a course in fashion have different varieties of sewing machines to help their students. Some of the examples are portable sewing machines, heavy duty sewing machines, computerized sewing kits and cover stitch sewing machines among others. Even though professors might find YouTube videos on how these machines work, the student needs to tangibly work on them to understand the kind of pressure that needs to be applied. The inability to have practical demonstrations has been one of the biggest challenges that fashion students forced to face because of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Unavailability of Tools: It goes without saying that a student of fashion needs access to certain tools which they generally do not keep at home. These special tools are easily available at their colleges and they are too used to such devices that it has become extremely difficult to work without them from home. Varieties of dress forms like adjustable full female body dress forms, half female body dress form, different sizes of male dress forms (small, medium and large) are always available on the college campus. Drafting tables, which are one of the most important things a fashion student needs, are obviously not lying around in their homes. Pattern making tools and product development tools are the bread and butter of fashion students’ lives at college. The unavailability of all these devices at home has become extremely burdensome for the college students who are forced to stay at home and digitally attend classes.
  • Network Issues: No matter how high profile a student may be, there are always chances of facing network issues when working from home. This year has not been very kind when it comes to climate change and has given rise to sudden downpours, even cyclones and earthquakes. It is quite normal for students to face this challenge when virtually attending classes from their homes. Have you missed an important lecture by your professor because your laptop won’t connect to the internet? Thousands of students are battling this mega problem everywhere.
  • No Formal Environment: A student going to college, attending classes attentively, taking inspiration from professors and fellow classmates is the normal routine. It has been completely disrupted by the unforeseen onset of Covid-19 and made it mandatory for students to practice social distancing from home to prevent the spread of this deadly virus. As students, you have been used to a certain lifestyle which does not involve the comfort of your house. You pay more attention when surrounded by a formal environment of education. But that is absolutely out of question when you are at home. There is a potential for distraction in everything you see. For instance, your parents never check on you when you are in college attending lectures, neither do your pets make it extremely difficult by staring at your face as you take down notes. The lack of a formal environment has resulted in students losing focus from their studies, getting detached from their passion and feel uncertain about their future.

How to Overcome These Challenges?
At the end of the day, each challenge is only as difficult as we allow it to be. A famous proverb remarks, “Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.” All students need to focus on the solution to the issues they face regularly instead of mulling over the adversities. Let’s face it – you do not have any personal growth as long as things run smoothly, it is the challenges along the road that shape your personality. We are going to help you establish the perfect home routine that you can follow to defeat the hurdles posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. There are number of things you can do that will help you get a control over the current situation, let us take a look at them.

  • Acceptance is Essential: Carl Jung once said that, “We cannot change anything unless we accept it.” It is essential for all students to come to terms with the situation we are living in now, and only then can you choose to ignore the chaotic side of it and work hard to come up with plan to improve yourself. Students of fashion need to internalize the fact that this lockdown situation will be over soon and the world of fashion will be alive and thriving again.
  • Maintain a Strict Routine: Just because you are at home does not mean you are on vacation. You must come up with a strict routine that will set the right mood for a long day of online classes. Set an alarm just like you did for college, get dressed in formal clothes as they guarantee higher levels of attention and make sure you have highly nutritious food to fight this global pandemic. You should take breaks in between your online classes, like you had in college. It helps you have a fresh mind for each class and also gives you the necessary movement you need from sitting in one place in front of the laptop screen.
  • Flow with Your Creative Spirit: One of the major reasons why you chose fashion for graduation is because you have a very creative mind. You should use your imaginative skills to come up with great solutions for your daily routine. Do you have that one corner in your house that gets your creative juices flowing? Try to recreate a workshop there which somewhat replicates the one you have in your college. It does not have to be very spacious or grand, it should just be enough for you to sit at a table to make beautiful sketches. As the digital sector is in the full bloom now, you can order the necessary things online at create a functioning workplace for yourself. This will not only be a temporary escape from the situation but also permanently solve the issue of working from home. Just like photography students have a dark room they can access to develop photos; you can use your home workshop to create masterpieces anytime. Earl Nightingale said the most inspirational words, “Creativity is a natural extension of our enthusiasm.” The kind of love and dedication you have for your passion can be easily reflected through your self-made quarantine workshop.
  • Keep in Touch With Nature: Are you someone who gets inspired by the variegated beauty of nature? The flowers, the trees, the differently shaped leaves, beautiful and endless colors are a source of great inspiration for students of fashion designing and management. As the government as mandated us not to step outside for the sake of our safety along with everyone else’s, we need to think outside the box. You can consider a bit of gardening in your terrace, backyard or balcony. Since online delivery is available to us, you can order beautiful varieties of flowering plants, indoor plants and bonsais. Once you get to searching about gardening tools and techniques, you will across extremely adorable earthen, ceramic and plastic pots to grow your plants in. In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Nature always wears the colors of the spirit.” You should consider growing things in your little garden that speak to your soul and provides you with endless motivation. While sipping on a cup of coffee, you can inculcate all the unique ideas that come to you through your beautiful creation and sketch it down on paper.
  • Build on Your Resume: Though Covid-19 has confined you to the four walls of your house, it has also provided you the gift of time as the whole world comes to a standstill. You can use this time to create an impressive curriculum vitae (CV) by developing new skills. As students of fashion, you have a wide array of skills to work upon. Some of these include exceptional drawing skills, a good understanding of fabric, texture and color, an interest in the trends of the past, sewing and draping a variety of patterns. Yes, the job market is at a crucial condition now but if you have an essential and unique skill set, employers in the industry will give you preference. You can try and design accessories, clothing and even footwear as they will add to your resume. If you have a workstation at home, you can even think of making these designs come to life.
  • Search for Internships: You can either get disheartened by the trending news of low job opportunities and internships or you can set a goal to do proper research to find an internship that you can do from home. Thousands of opportunities are still available if you do a thorough search. You can try to lean on the career services provided by your college to find an internship during the lockdown. You should develop on the contacts you have through online platforms, video conference calls and social media. Look for the companies that are providing digital internship programs. By applying for internships, you are only gaining experience on how to improve on interview skills.

Apart from all this, you can also spend some time on yourself which you were unable to do when attending college every day. Being a fashion student does not mean you cannot have other interests too. You can learn a new language, read the books on your bucket-list or simply maintain a healthy workout regime which you can follow when your college starts again. Spending time with loved ones, cooking and sharing a meal together will also help you overcome the stress or anxiety you maybe going through because of the coronavirus pandemic. Remember that once the lockdown is over, you must go back to college. Prepare yourself for that day.

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Guide for Students to Achieve Careers Goals despite Covid Impact

Guide for Students to Achieve Careers Goals despite Covid Impact

It was in December 2019 that short snippet news of a coronavirus affecting people in a far-distant place called Wuhan, China first broke out. In January, 2020 a few more hundred people were infected, Wuhan was under lockdown. It wasn’t worrisome news. People continued to go about their work as before. But by March, Italy and many European nations started reporting hundreds and thousands of patients infected by Covid-19. By the end of the month, WHO declared it to be a pandemic. Most countries declared lockdowns, put in place strict travel protocols while many banned international travel. In three months, the world around us changed. Everyone was forced to stay indoors – for their own safety as well as the safety of their near and dear ones.

The next few months saw people from all spheres of life accommodating themselves with a new reality. No one had the time to prepare themselves for such a day. The pandemic taught us all to re-adjust our priorities, re-evaluate our decisions and plan a feasible future progression. But all of this had to happen from the confines of the home. It hasn’t been easy for anyone. When offices shut down, workforce had to understand the full implications of the concept of work from home. Many had to set up small office spaces at home. As markets closed, businesses looked at a bleak future. The travel and tourism industry have been among the worst hit with no evidences of things getting better any time soon.

Unfortunately students have been the silent sufferers in all this chaos. Educational institutions were closed overnight. Online classes started almost immediately. There was some clamor, a lot of hesitation but very little noise. Graduating students who were on the verge of seeking employment or planning their higher education had suddenly been left in the dark. Most didn’t know what the impact of coronavirus would be on their career. The economic consequences of prolonged lockdowns has been unimaginable. According to ILO, the pandemic has worst hit employment opportunities – both in the formal and informal sector. Globally ILO estimates 305 million job loss.

The already grim situation in terms of employment rate has reached an alarming level due to the recent job losses over the past couple of months. The lack on the demand side is going to create fresh challenges for fresher in a post-Covid job market. The newly graduated students will have to re-visit their career plans, think of alternatives and prepare themselves for a new world post-Covid.

What Students Looking for Job Opportunities in Covid Times Should Be Prepared For
We are not going to live in this state of lockdown and heavy restrictions forever. The world will re-open. Businesses will flourish, people will get back their jobs. Students will get their dream jobs. But it’s going to take a while. Until everything goes back to normal, students must prepare themselves for the worst case scenario. More importantly, they mustn’t look at this time as a ‘holiday’ from work. It isn’t. The pandemic has given many of us an opportunity to learn new things and enhance our skills. If working professionals are ready to put in extra hours to improve their skills, students who have freshly passed out of colleges and universities should have the aptitude to learn newer things.  

What should students who are looking for jobs do right now? Below you will find a well-curated guide on how students can achieve their career goals despite the Covid impact.

Re-Evaluate Your Skills
It is true that you have spent years honing your skills and you are ready to take the plunge. Unfortunately the current situation is so unprecedented that the skills you learnt in college may not be enough. Before you shoot off those resumes to prospective employers, re-evaluate your skills. Ask yourself whether you have the aptitude to meet the changing demands of the job market. Can you work in allied services, which may be unrelated to what you studied so far? Will your job opportunities be compromised because of your skills? You will need to keep an open mind in order to evaluate yourself. do not look at your mark sheets. Those aren’t going to help right now. Instead take a few tests online that will help assess your capabilities. Ask yourself ‘if not this, then what’. Prepare yourself for joblessness for a longer duration.

Reflect On Your Career Choices
What happens when there are no job opportunities for your skills? Reflect on this point for long. It is important for students who had planned a specific career path for themselves to know that all that they dreamt of may not come true. It is essential that you make a pragmatic career choice, willing to work in areas you hadn’t prepared for. Whether it is an alternative career path or waiting for a better opportunity to knock at your doors – you need to prepare yourself for every possibility. Plan an entrepreneurial venture to sustain yourself. After all you may not land on your dream job just yet. Do not worry though, there are lots of things you can do.  

Go For Career Counselling
It isn’t easy for a fresher to make an informed decision, even in normal circumstances. We are living in such times where we don’t know how long will it take for a vaccine to be ready or whether herd immunity is going to be the final answer. Simply put, this means that the pandemic could well last much longer than we anticipated. As a fresh graduate it isn’t going to be easy to make a career decision. The purpose of career counselling would be to help you understand the realities of the current job scenario, to counsel you of your choices and to help you make an informed choice. Fortunately most premier institutions assist graduating students to choose their career. Today it is being done remotely. Talk to your college authorities and fix an online appointment with your career counsellor for more. Do not rest unless you are confident that you have the right answers.

Embrace The Changing Times
One of the greatest fallouts of the pandemic has been its impact on our collective mental health. Youngsters are especially finding it hard to adapt to the sudden changes imposed all around them. The fresh graduates who were ready to embark on a new and exciting journey suddenly found themselves trapped indoors. Anxiety, stress, depression and suicidal tendencies are increasingly being reported. If you want to succeed in your career and make a good impression in front of your prospective employers, you must embrace the change. Do not let it bog you down. Do not think that your being at home is harming your career. Your mental health is in your hand. Choose to remain positive for a better tomorrow. Your patience and hope will help you in the long run.  

Learn Something New
Technology has made it possible for all of us to sit at home and continue with our jobs. But there is more to technology than just that. You can use the Internet and the many resources available within it to improve yourselves. The pandemic has opened a pandora’s box of opportunities for people who want to learn and upgrade their skills. Educational institutions are conducting webinars on various subjects, registering in which will teach you new things. The pandemic has given the youth an opportunity to learn from experts from around the globe. You can sit at home and take a short-term online course that will further help your career in the long-run. There are literally so many things you can do. Don’t wait for this opportunity to pass.

Improve your Networking
Even in normal circumstances you would have been facing stiff competition in the real, toughened world. Everything is highly competitive today. There are more skilled but unemployed youth today than there are jobs. This imbalance will further become pronounced in a post-Covid world where businesses would be looking at ways of cutting costs, reducing their already stretched finances. It isn’t going to be easy to get a job – and that’s the truth. But if you want to stay ahead of the competition, you need to know the right people, learn about the job realities and get used to speaking the job language. You can do all of this and more by improving your networking. Make an appealing and informative LinkedIn profile. There are many employers out there on this (and other) social media platform. Follow your prospective clients and the bigwigs of your chosen industry on social media to stay connected and informed. Participate in open discussions. You can also upload your CV to the various recruiting sites.

Practice Your Interviewing Abilities
You should be prepared for telephonic as well as video-calling interviews. Even when the current situation normalizes, it is going to take a while for offices to resume their day-today activities. Right now whoever are employing are doing so distantly and digitally. This means you might not get the opportunity to impress your prospective employers with your confidence and body language. While you are at home, practice your interviewing skills. Sit in front of your laptop and run a  mock-test interview. It will not be easy in the beginning to ‘talk’ to a gadget. But practice will help you. Similarly, use this time to practice telephonic interviews. Ask your friend, parent or sibling to help you out.  

Build Your Portfolio
It will always fetch you extra points if you can show interviewers your work. You will need an impressive portfolio for this purpose. If you don’t have one yet, use this time to build one. If you are a fashion designing graduate, make an impressionable digital portfolio of your designs and ideas. On the other hand, if you have a degree in fashion entrepreneurship, show how you will use your entrepreneurial skills to improve a fashion brand. Remember that whatever you do must be digitally stored and shared when necessary.

Grab an Online Internship
So what if you can’t step out of your house? So what if companies have frozen their recruitments? There are still many companies offering online internships. While most may not have any stipends attached to them, it can be a great learning experience for you. This may just be the right opportunity for you to understand how working in an official manner means. It is true you will not be able to gauge the full experience of an office from home, nevertheless the learning trajectory is going to be huge.  

Do Not Waste Your Time
Covid-19 has crippled world economies. We are looking at long term recession and depression. Scientists and pharmaceutical companies are burning the midnight oil to fast-track a viable vaccination. The rate of infection is increasing every single day. More number of people are being infected with the virus. It is true that all this paints a grim picture. But as a student who wants to jumpstart on a successful career, you mustn’t bog yourself down. Remember the world’s best minds are at work right now trying to fix a solution. You must do you bit. Do not waste this precious time. Stay proactive. It’s okay you cannot start working right now. Make the best use of this unexpected time to better your skills. Improve your communication, work on your talents, and work on improving your resume. Build a portfolio that no one can ignore.

Despite the Covid-19 situation, you can still achieve your career goals. If you are a fashion designing graduate, there is no better time than now to unleash your creativity. Fill that designing book with your imagination. Create breath-taking apparels that are surely going to become success. This is also the right opportunity for you to think about your own brand. You can start by doing something small – without a lot of investment. You can also model in your own creations, put it out of social media platforms and see how the response is. You would be surprised at the overwhelming response you can get. This pandemic has taught us all to count our blessing. Count yours. Make this moment count.  

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Education in the Time of COVID-19

Education in the Time of COVID-19

We are living in unprecedented times, locked inside the four walls of our home, changing our habits to unimaginable proportions yet continuing to wait for all of this to end. Covid-19 pandemic has literally brought the world to a standstill. A few months into the pandemic, we are witnessing a staggering re-opening of economies. As scientists and epidemiologists are telling us, we have to be patient before we can relax and get back to our life. We will have to adapt to the ‘new normal’ where everything works, but differently.

How has COVID-19 Affected Our Daily Lives?
We are already seeing how the new normal will look like. We are going to work, but from home. We are going to learn, but from home. We are going to socialize, but from home. We are doing everything we did before, but from home. Is it inconvenient? Of course it is! We are adapting to change we didn’t think we could. Who knew eating home cooked food would be so much fun. Video-calling old friends and remembering old times is quite re-invigorating, isn’t it? Though we are all staying home and only venturing out when absolutely necessary, we have learnt to make the best of this situation.

We have learnt to do household chores as a family. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, we have learnt to re-energize ourselves by learning new things. If some are excelling their culinary skills, others are advancing their career by participating in webinars and online courses. However, the pandemic has been the toughest for the student community. Suddenly, they had to give up their daily routine. They didn’t need to go to their educational institutions, they need to sit in classes and they need to write their exams.

Impact of Covid-19 among Students?
As the world comes to an uncertain standstill, students everywhere had to come to terms with the new definition of normalcy. The sudden shift from classroom teaching to online classes hasn’t been easy – neither for the students nor the educators. There was scarcely any time to plan this transition. The students were suddenly told to stop going to their institutions and to continue their education from home. While educational institutions closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic, it remains crucial that the students complete their curriculum, sit for their tests and regular evaluations continue without any glitch.

In the past few things, the education sector has learnt a lot. Acclimatizing to change, learning the ropes of digital education, distant learning have all become a part of life today. It hasn’t been easy for anyone. There have been many hurdles the system had to cross in order to come to this stage of online education.

Challenges Education Sector Had to Overcome

  • Everyone was unprepared – Students have always seen laptops and computers as a source of entertainment. Many have used them solely for gaming. Internet was the means to escape to a fantasy land, to watch shows, movies, to read what they liked and to relax. For them to accept that they had to use these gadgets for classroom education was not an easy pill to swallow. They asked many questions. How would we learn without someone teaching us? How could teachers highlight the importance of a subject distantly? Could we do assignments with minimal help from our educators?

The pandemic brought newer challenges for teachers as well. The shift from classroom teaching to online learning sessions wasn’t easy for them. Many had to learn the ropes of digital education overnight, with minimal help. Those who were proficient in online education still grappled with the magnitude of it all.  

  • Passive Learning – The biggest challenge for students across the world was to adjust to online learning itself. In developing countries like India, students are accustomed to learn from the teacher in-person. Classroom teaching has been the cornerstone of education till now. Digital learning was seen as an added skill one must learn. It wasn’t compulsory. Online learning induced by the Covid-19 pandemic had resulted in students losing interest in their curriculum. Their attention span reduced to bare minimum. Most couldn’t see the importance of online education and why they had to continue learning. It was equally distressing for teachers to keep up the momentum.  They had to make use of visual aids, presentations and creative lesson plans with bare minimal tools. Passive learners who took time to grasp the new system lagged behind. They needed extra care but didn’t know whom to ask.
  • Little Practical Demonstration – There are certain subjects that invariably need to be demonstrated practically for the students to comprehend. We will take the example of fashion designing courses to fully understand this problem. You cannot expect a fashion designing student to learn the various techniques involved in fabric making, designing, stitching patterns and the trending styles through online classes. It is more strenuous for the educators to make lesson plans that will adequately pass the accurate information to their students due to the lack of practical illustration in a classroom.
  • Difficulty in Student Recruitment and Admission – The coronavirus pandemic has ensured a series of events in the education sector that have never been dealt with before. The admission procedures in schools and colleges that require physical interaction with the students have to be re-modified completely. We still don’t know when normal classes can resume again. Students are unable to seek admission in their favored institutions due to the pandemic. This has increased stress levels and anxiety among students.

How The Education Sector Rose Above All Odds
It is only natural for humans to rise above all challenges, defeat the odds and emerge victorious. Though the pandemic is still far from over, we have learnt to live with the virus. Educational institutions have brought policy changes that has made online learning much easier. Governments are reducing syllabus to ease students’ workload. All in all, there has been many positive things the pandemic has taught the education sector. Let’s take a look.

  • Integrated Learning Experience – As a result of being forced into the digital platform, most educational institutions are coming up with integrated learning and teaching system. In simpler terms, educators will henceforth be accustomed to deliver both face-to-face classes and will be adept to teach through online mediums. This blended learning experience will eventually become mandatory for educational institutions all around the world. Instead of submitting handwritten assignments, students have learnt to do their work on online platforms. Once properly adopted, the digital platform is poised to improve the education sector.
  • Implementation of Modern Management Systems – The scope of online learning has expanded to the industrial sector too, giving rise to new job opportunities. Digital learning and tutoring apps have gained immense popularity due to the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns. It has also widened the opportunity for educational institutions to imbibe modern management systems to upgrade the learning experience for students, teachers and also the administrative staff.
  • Informative Learning Experience – Since all classes are being conducted virtually, it has broken the boundaries of confined learning. Teachers are at the liberty to divulge relevant information to help students understand complex topics and also to catch up with the latest occurrences around the world. The quality of content in classes has improved significantly because of the global pandemic. There is less scope for irrelevant information and that has help diminish the attention span of students.
  • Growth in Participation – We all know that there is no limit to knowledge. The pandemic has proven this to be absolutely correct. Educators from around the world have now started participating in teaching students other than their own class. Everyone is looking out for collaborative teaching that has expanded their knowledge and helped others in the process. Virtual conference calls have piqued the interest of learning in students everywhere. The seminars that students were unable to attend earlier have become accessible through webinars which are open to one and all.

Tips For Students To Deal With The Covid-19 Epidemic
Here are some tips that will help students to develop healthy study habits and guide them in the correct path of dealing with these sudden changes.

  • While attending online classes, students should dress formally, even if it means wearing their uniforms. This will immediately transform how to mentally prepare yourself for the classes. You will respond better to lessons. Staying in your pajamas for online classes reduces your attention level drastically and you are more prone to be have less retention of what is being taught.
  • If you have a dedicated workstation which you can use regularly for your online classes, it increases your focus levels. If you don’t have one, create a space right away. This will help you stay focused.
  • It is essential that you establish a proper routine for each day. It should include all the things you did earlier when you could go out. Replicating these actions sets the right mood in your mind and it makes you prepared for a day filled with online classes.
  • Being at home, there are many distractions which you never faced while in class. It can be your pet dog wagging her tail in front of you or your younger sibling asking for help. You need to set strict boundaries which you will not overstep while attending online classes.
  • No matter which digital platform you have to use for your virtual classes, be it laptop, tablet or smartphone, there is always a scope for distraction. You might get the urge to check your social media accounts or play a round of your favorite game. Some ads might pop up that instantly disrupt your focus. You can use ad-blockers to resolve that issue.
  • You must take small breaks in between, just like you did after each class got over. It is important to regulate your physical movement, take those water breaks and more importantly to relax. You should not let the pressure of finishing your curriculum online get to you and increase your stress levels.
  • One essential tip for coping with online classes is to ask frequent questions. This allows you to pay attention throughout the course of the virtual session. Besides, it provides a sense of contentment to the teacher as they realize you have been focused and not just sitting idle in front of the screen.
  • You must realize that it is absolutely normal to feel stressed out and anxious. What you can do to cope with it is to take a hold of things gradually, and not all at once. You should talk with your educator and fellow mates about how they are dealing with the situation.

It would be wrong to say that the transition has been smooth. It hasn’t. It has been a challenge for everyone. But humans are known to rise for the occasion, meet any challenge head-on and emerge victorious. The student community surely is garnering applauses from everywhere because they have adapted to the change. Educators have continued to be role-models, like always. Everyone is still learning to make things better. Many things have improved in the last few months but the road ahead is long. Students, teachers, facilitators as well as administrators have to work together to make learning fun, interactive and informative.

It is especially important for institutions offering specialized courses to make online learning fun. Many institutions offering courses such as fashion designing already had implemented digital education, much before the pandemic. Today they are simply using the resources better. Students enrolled in such courses from path-breaking institutions are benefiting from the improved teaching methodologies. Those seeking admissions are filling out online forms of such courses knowing how much they will benefit even though they will have to learn from home. It has become even more important today than it ever was to choose the right institution for learning. Students must look for institutions where teachers have turned facilitators, where intuition and creativity is given wings to fly and where learning is not confined to the four walls of a classroom.  

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Covid-19 Effect: Designer Sales and Auctions Comes to Fashion’s Rescue

Covid-19 Effect: Designer Sales and Auctions Comes to Fashion’s Rescue

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought many issues to the fore. Unskilled and semi-skilled labourers have always worked tirelessly without getting any recognition. There have of course been many reasons why their contribution to the society was never attributed, but the key reason remain ignorance and complete apathy. Most choose to ignore them because that’s convenient but without these unnamed, unknown men and women working tirelessly, many industries would have crippled, many stalwarts would have dusted the ground. The pandemic has been an eye-opener as most of us finally saw them. In the last few months, these people have made national and international headlines. They have created a fervour, shaken the collectively empathy of the people and have forced us to look beyond ourselves.

Yes, we are talking about the migrant labourers who until the pandemic hit us were no one to us. By walking miles to reach their homes they captured the collective imagination of the people. Their struggles, their spirit to battle all odds made us all look at them with new eyes. The fortunate people of this country came forward to help them. Many who were rendered jobless in these trying times found help not only from the government but also people, corporate organizations and NGOs.

In these past few months we have all realised how important it is for us to stand together as humans first. The pedestals that made us stand above others suddenly didn’t vanished. Suddenly we were all fighting a faceless, unknown virus together. It has been a huge lesson for us all. What has been really heartening has been the fact that the coronavirus pandemic has made many corporates and entrepreneurs thinking out of the box to help the disadvantaged section of the population.

Fashion Industry’s Role in Overcoming Ordeals
Many have forever associated fashion with triviality. While such accusations may be unfounded and demeaning to a large extent, the truth is we tend to ignore or look down at fashion when uncomfortable truths stare at our face. But it cannot be ignored that for the longest time the fashion and beauty industry have taken their corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities very seriously. Many a times they have been the silent crusaders working towards uplifting the working conditions of artisans, small-time weavers and other labourers directly and indirectly associated with the industry. It has been the CSR activity of many fashion brands to consciously create fashion products that do minimal harm to the environment and reduces one’s carbon footprint on this planet. Improving healthcare, providing education to the marginalised have often featured in the CSR activities of brands. There are several other such examples of fashion brands leading from the front.    

Many a times the role that the fashion industry have not appropriately been acknowledged by the larger world. Nevertheless fashion brands and renowned designers have been silent crusaders for causes they believe in. The biggest and most underrated contribution of these people have been their tireless work towards artisans and semi-skilled labourers who are really the backbone of the industry.

Fashion Industry’s Relief Measures during Covid-19
When the government first announced a nation-wide lockdown to stop the spread of the virus, the country knew how unprepared it was to deal with the consequences of the ill-fated virus. Face masks, hand sanitizers, hand wash and many other essential items – not only for healthcare workers but for everyone – become utmost priority. Unfortunately there wasn’t enough for everyone. Moreover initially there was so little information about the virus that most people panicked. Eventually virologists explained that wearing masks, maintaining social distance of up to 6 feet, maintaining hand hygiene acted as deterrents to the spread of the virus.

Initially most of us understood that masks meant wearing the N95 respiratory varieties. N95 masks are used extensively by healthcare workers as these face masks are tight-fitting, and can filter 95% of small particles from entering our mouth and nose. This means they can help prevent the spread of the virus to a large extent. Unfortunately there was an acute shortage of N95 masks and the government was procuring, manufacturing as many as they could, especially for healthcare workers and other frontline warriors. People were than told that surgical, one-time use masks could well be used as alternatives to N95 masks, especially for people who could stay at home and venture out only on emergencies. Surgical masks also helped protect against the virus to a large extent. However the downside was that they had to be disposed after every use. Soon it become a cumbersome process to acquire and stock so many masks.

Government agencies and health advisories then noted that hand-made cloth face masks can protect us from the virus. It was a more sustainable, easily accessible, re-usable option for most people. Along with social distancing and other protocols, this soon became the most commonly used variety of mask worn by most people. This is where the fashion stalwarts stepped in. They helped produce and distribute masks in large numbers. Several well-known fashion designers and brands led from the forefront in producing cotton masks so that there was no scarcity. Among those who led from the forefront in making masks include –

  • Masaba Gupta – There were two reasons why Masaba, one of the leading fashion designers in the country started making masks as early as in April under the name ‘Maskaba’. One was to sustain her business and give employment to the many workers working for her brand, and the other – for donating to charities. Most of the masks available on her brand’s website have the unique, quirky designs that Masaba is known for. Though the price of each cotton mask is much higher than the regular ones available in the market, she promises to donate one mask to a needy for every piece sold.
  • FabIndia – One of the leading cotton fabric brands in India were also among the first Indian brands to produce masks. These masks are made of beautiful hand-block prints and weaves. The brand has always been known to work with traditional weavers. This time too they have sourced raw material directly from the weavers who also stitched the masks.
  • Payal Singhal – The ace fashion designer launched her line of cotton masks to create awareness about the use of face masks in public places. She started a social media campaign with trending hanhtags such as #Stayhome #Staysafe #Flattenthecurve to reinforce the message. She roped in celebrities who wore her creations to spread awareness.
  • Ritu Kumar – For the veteran fashion designer, the aim of stitching masks was to send them to the slums around Gurugram, Haryana. She started by delivering 1500 masks a day. Now her team is producing over 2000 masks per day.  

Other brands that starting making masks for free distribution initially, and eventually started selling them include Fable Street, Greendigo, Lovebirds, Nivedita Saboo and many more.

Designer Sales and Auction – Initiatives to Support the Fashion Industry
Designers and fashion brands continued to spread awareness during the time of nation-wide lockdown that stretched to more than two months. But once the lockdowns were relaxed and markets were opened, the fashion industry faced a new and much more compelling challenge. While markets saw a staggering re-opening, business had already hit an all-time low. One of the mainstays of couture fashion is the big fat Indian wedding. Unfortunately wedding couture has almost become non-existent in these times of social distancing. Not only are fashion designers and brands faced with the task to keeping their business alive, but they must also think of their back-end workers.

In order to support the fashion industry, the Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI) established the Covid-19 Support Fund. The aim was to help small businesses and young designers in the industry. One of the most successful endeavours to this effect was an Instagram live session organised by the designer duo Shantanu and Nikhil Mehra that saw the participation of Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Manish Malhotra, Tarun Tahiliani and Rahul Mishra. The live titled ‘The Fraternity Talks’ not only ended with an insightful discussion on the future of the business, but by the end of the session, all designers volunteered to auction a garment from their collection to raise funds. Soon they managed to raise a little above INR 6 lakhs.

The idea behind the ‘Fraternity Talks’ was to bring the industry together. According to the leading designers, the fashion community had increasingly distanced itself from everyone within and outside. Everyone was either a competitor or an opportunist. But with the Covid-19 situation, the fraternity realised that they could not battle the storm alone. They had to come together and stand for each other if they have to survive. The auction sale was just a baby step towards that goal.  

This phenomenon of helping each other in such crucial times hasn’t just been seen in India. Many leading international brands have collaborated over the past few months to create awareness about the virus, to support each other and to become more accountable for their collective action.

In France, 80 international brands came together to support each other in a ‘one-off auction’. Some of the leading names in the business like Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Celine, Dior, Balenciaga came together to support the French healthcare workers. It was a huge success and a great example of solidarity.  

Sabyasachi Mukherjee, one of the most renowned Indian fashion designers had been vocal about the need for the community to come together. It was as early as in March that Mukherjee announced that his label would continue to support over 2000 skilled and unskilled labourers directly associated with him for as long as possible. He encouraged and motivated many others to lead from the front.

One of the main reasons why Indian fashion brands and designers need to do similar kind of auction and designer sales is because the industry must come together. While there are guidelines and regulatory bodies for the fashion industry, there is still a lack of camaraderie within the industry. But when a crisis as large as Covid-19 stares at the face, if the community comes together, they can battle it all out. Moreover Indian designers are the biggest employers of traditional artisans and it is their duty to safeguard their interests. If the top notch designers and brands do not bring the supply chain together, these fragile workforce will abandon their skills and look for employment elsewhere. This won’t be good for the industry in the long run.

What Fashion Designing Students Can Learn From This Pandemic
The Covid-19 pandemic has badly hit global economy. It is going to take some time to revive it and it is going to take a lot of concerted effort to do so. While on one hand the economy has been badly hit, fashion designing students have been left with an uncertain future. But there is always a lesson to be learnt from the worst of situations. Students pursuing a career in fashion or in the verge of joining the industry as skilled workers must take lessons from industry stalwarts. If the pandemic could teach veterans to re-invent themselves and work according to the changing demands of the market, students should be able to do the same. What if you had bigger dreams of becoming a name as a wedding couture designer? That dream can surely wait. You must learn to adapt, adopt and change according to the needs of the new market demands. You must realise that for the next few years it is going to be very difficult for the fashion industry to revive. The demand-supply chain has been broken and it going to take a while to get it back to pre-Covid levels. Till then you must re-energise yourself, upgrade your skills and prepare yourself for an altered industry.  

The Covid-19 pandemic has been a great teacher of sorts. While we continue to battle the virus everyday, while scientists and medical experts try to find a vaccine for it, we must keep ourselves strong. Graduate students who have been left with an unknown future must use this time to improve their skills and to realign their career goals.

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5 Tips to Get Job-Ready before the COVID-19 Pandemic Ends

5 Tips to Get Job-Ready before the COVID-19 Pandemic Ends

If there is one word that defines the collective mood in the world, ‘uncertainty’ would perhaps be the best way to describe it. Just as the world welcomed a new decade with all the fun and the fervor tragedy struck. The initial reports of a virus infection in Wuhan, China didn’t set the alarm bells ringing around the world. After all we had already witnessed SARS, MERS, Ebola and Zika outbreaks in the last two decades. While threatening they were in terms of deaths and infection rates, most of these remained localized and didn’t bring the whole of the planet to halt.

Covid-19 has been different as it has hit the entire world with the developed countries with the best healthcare facilities hit hardest. At last count more than 14 million people around the world have been infected with this dreaded virus and upward of 6 hundred thousand people have lost their lives. Millions more are likely to be hit by this virus in the coming months as the infection shows no signs of receding. Major economies around the world have shrunk and it might take even a decade for some of the countries hardest hit by this virus to get their economy back to full steam.

If you were about to finish your course and planning to apply for a job or have lost your present job these times can surely be depressing. There are not too many businesses around the world that are in position to hire people in bulk like they did in the past. The signals that we are receiving from different industry bodies both national and global are painting a gloomy picture. While there are few green shoots in the economy, they are too few and don’t really encourage people who’d be looking for jobs when the pandemic starts showing signs of reversal and restrictions are lifted.

As a student of fashion designing and marketing you are likely to face even tougher challenges and this industry will take time to recover from the losses that it has suffered and continues to suffer in the coming months. The shrinking of disposal income is likely to create problems on the demand side of the economy and this will immediately have a rippling effect on how fashion labels spend in terms of building their capacity and hiring new people. Faction products and other merchandise aren’t likely to be the first priority for consumers once the economy starts recovering.

But you can’t stop, you can’t burry your mind in a world of negativity. Human race has overcomes challenges in the past and will come out of this crisis too. Whether it was outbreak of the Spanish Flu a century back or the World War II that destroyed economies from around the world, we have always fought back to earn our place. India as a nation has always stood out resiliently during times of crisis and people have built the nation and the economy from brink of disaster. Whether it was building the economy in the aftermath of the tragic partition or when 1991 Economic Crisis forced us to take hard economic decisions that sparked the growth of Indian economy. It isn’t only the governments and businesses that have written the success story but ordinary people who have walked the extra miles, taken the new ways of life positively that us made us the 5th largest economy in the world.  

As a student or one who will be looking for a job once there are positive signals from the economy you need to focus on staying relevant, upping your skills and focus on building your career in a world that is going to be different from what you have known so far in your life. Let us take you through five tips that will help you get job-ready when the Covid-19 pandemic ends –

  1. Stay Focused
    While there is no denying the fact that the Novel Coronavirus is a severally infectious disease that strikes its victim without any warning, its real threat may lie elsewhere. While more than 14 million people have tested positive for this dreaded illness, many more are suffering from mental health problems due to the ongoing crisis. Psychologists and mental health experts are working overtime to help people come out of the state of paranoia that can very well lead to acute depression in millions of cases.

    The working class and the student community are worst affected by this. As someone who was planning to start a career in immediate future all your plans may have been jeopardized with this pandemic. Interviews have been cancelled and many job offers have been withdrawan without any clear direction to the job aspirants. If you are one of them you’d know how depressing the situation is at the moment. But all said and done you cannot afford to lose your focus. This is perhaps the most trying moment in your life and you will need to stay determined to face that challenges that would come your way in the future. 
  2. Accept The New Normal
    The early days of the lockdown saw most students and aspiring job seekers take ‘Remote Learning’ with a sense of disbelief. After all few weeks of break from classrooms and projects wasn’t likely to affect learning or the course curriculum. Depressing as it may sound the spread of this infection is showing no signs of reversal. It is still few months from when we will start witnessing the sought after ‘flattening of the curve’ in India. When can we resume our normal lives as it was pre-pandemic remains a big question mark. This is where you will need to start adjusting to the ‘New Normal’.

    American philosopher William James famously said “Acceptance of what has happened is the first step to overcoming the consequences of any misfortune.” This is the time when you need to accept this ‘New Normal’. If you are pursuing a course you will need to accept remote classes as the most feasible model of delivery as far as your course is concerned. There is no guarantee on when you will be able to sit in a physical classroom and discuss the topics with your peers.  

    Though remote classes aren’t a new concept they were never envisioned to completely replace physical classrooms. But the risk of stepping out of the homes and travel restrictions has made them the only means of continuity. This is here to stay and you will need to accept this reality if you are looking to prepare yourself for the job market once this pandemic ends.
  3. Start Preparing for the Post-Covid Market  
    It goes without saying that the post-Covid job market would be anything but what you had planned for in the past. Economy has been hit by a sledgehammer and it is the worst that enterprises around the world are facing since the World War II. The 2008-09 Global Financial Crisis, the last major economic downturn in recent memory now seems like a blip as compared to one we are living through. Millions of people have lost their jobs around the world. More of less every sector has been hit hard with some like hospitality, tourism and aviation living through the worst nightmare.

    All this would mean that hiring across the industry is likely to be extremely skill based, need based, and role based. The days of bulk placements out of campus will be a thing of the past for the next couple of years. Apart from the usual questions related to your field of study you may be tested on your skills to work remotely and collaborate with different team members virtually. Any and everything that can be done remotely would be done remotely in the near future. Right from being interviewed virtually to sit through digital training sessions you will have to start preparing to deliver your best sitting thousands of kilometres away from your mentors and supervisors. The usual handholding that most newcomers have benefitted from in the past isn’t likely to happen in the immediate future. This is where you need to get yourself accustomed to the tools and platforms that are being used in the new work environment.  
  4. Focus on Skill Development 
    While there are dozens of reasons to be frustrated about the lockdown and the new restrictions on your life there are few positives to it. As a student if you had ever thought about the need to add to your skills, the time is now. There are dozens of online courses that you can sign up to and add to your skills. For instance as a student of Fashion Designing and Marketing you can enrol into short-term diploma courses in Personal Styling, Fashion Photography, Fashion Illustration etc.

    Students should harness the power of several professional courses that institutions of higher learning are offering amid the lockdown. Most of these courses are being offered remotely and this allows you to learn from experts from around the world. One a positive note many of the skill development courses being offered digitally these days require you to attend the classes physically in the past.  These courses will not only help you in adding to your CV and improving your odds at an interview but unwind your mind from the constant news items you read about the gloomy picture of the economy and the job market. It is important for you to bear in mind that definitive picture on when this crisis will end how the job market would evolve is still not known to anyone. It is impossible for you to have control over what happens with the job market but adding to your skills is all within your control and that’s what your mind should be completely focussed on.
  5. Keep A Fall Back Plan
    All said and done there is no assurance that you are likely to find employment as soon as the industry resumes hiring. The job market is going to be extremely tough for the next few years. While you are likely to give your best effort to find a job, you also need to have a contingency plan ready in case you don’t crack the interviews. You can explore options like opting for a career which is related to your field or study and not the exact one you had been planning for. You can also explore further studies so that you are able to add to your qualification till the market stabilizes or take an entrepreneurial route.

    This is perhaps one of the most important things to do at this moment given the amount of uncertainty in the market. Failing to find a job can get into your mind and this may result in paranoia and depression. It is important for you to have a fall back plan ready that will help you tide through the worst case scenario where you don’t find your dream job. Not having a Plan-B or even Plan-C in such critical times can take a toll on your career as well as your confidence levels. Remember every job or venture would offer you a new learning experience and this is way better than standing dejected on not being able to start a career once you are done with your education.     

To sum up, students and aspiring job seekers will have to play a leading role when the economy opens after the pandemic ends. You will have to be the flag bearers of the economy and play your part in getting the juggernaut to roll once we have seen through the peak of Covid-19 crisis. As we have mentioned earlier human race has always overcome crisis that have hit us and we have learned our lessons from each of those dredged events in history. We shall learn our lessons in this too whether it is personal hygiene and social distancing or to take pandemic more seriously than perhaps we did in the early days. It is time for you to stay focused and positive. Negativity would just ruin your prospects in a post Covid-19 job market.

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