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.