College students across the globe have been faced with a brand new world since COVID entered their world. This is a historically differentiating time; your generation will forever be asked how it affected you – your plans, your education, and your career progression. This stuff is not easy, and no one is going to challenge you on that point. But how do you turn that differentiating marker to your advantage? Consider this, many senior employers, and members of the community, may have had the impression that your generation had not truly experienced any form of rite of passage to differentiate them. Your parents most likely were on their way to work when the planes hit the World Trade Center on 9/11. Your grandparents may have been in the Korean War, the Vietnam War, or possibly even WW11. History will show that challenges have plagued each generation. For your generation, these life altering results of COVID, are what you will share with your grandchildren. How you dealt with this situation to the best of your ability could be your legacy. So, what to do?
Make lemonade from lemons
This very old expression is one to think about now. You have been dealt a halt in the job market, the travel industry, and the ability to physically enjoy the company of friends and family. Take note of the businesses that are actually soaring in this pandemic simply by becoming an “essential” business, some of these are:
Regeneron, Pfizer, Amazon, UPS, Fed Ex; Zoom; Tesla; Home Depot, Specialized Bicycle Components
From developing the crucial technology for the vaccine, delivering food to elders or others stranded at home, making our virtual workplace function, to enabling the needed construction and upgrading of our new work spaces.
Think about how you can also become “essential” in the job market. Are your skills “essential” to employers who are hiring, or positioning themselves to hire once the pandemic resolves?
Perhaps you’ll need to readjust your ideal job specifications, and that’s actually not a bad thing. Think about what you have learned in college and how you might pivot to a field that leverages those skills for an industry/employer who is hiring. Here are some solid examples:
1) Business Majors with strong accounting/finance/data analytics skills are now being hired by healthcare companies struggling to keep up with the financial/data challenges arising from COVID.
2) Math/Cyber/Computer Science/IT Majors are being hired by Pharmaceutical Companies who are racing to develop a vaccine.
More ideas? How about “make something happen” in this environment so that when the job market does resume, you will have a great answer for this interview question, “So . . . what did you do during this period and how did you spend your time?” Examples:
1) A Math major had her internship pushed back by several months, so she decided to learn some additional coding languages to make herself even more valuable when her internship resumed.
2) A Business Major changed from applying to investment banks, where he had only been declined, to applying for a Leadership Development Training program for a top bicycle company and was hired!
3) A Science/Pre-Med Major decided to take her analytics interest and apply for an IT Training program after graduation, since she had no job offers in her field. She was hired and after receiving this additional IT training, she was hired by a global consulting firm.
Employers understand this is an unusually challenging time for students. Show them that you did not let a challenge stop you!