The last few months of social-distancing and sheltering-in-place in reaction to a pandemic have introduced us to a place most of us have never imagined. As a graduating college or graduate student, you may feel cheated of those final days of your long journey - commencement, parties, accolades, and interviewing for jobs you have been preparing to land for years. You may have had a job-offer rescinded; had a vacation postponed, and likely are feeling uncertain about your immediate actions and your future. Here are some actions you can take immediately.
First – Don’t Panic!
This is a temporary situation, and while it is nothing anyone wanted or planned, your education, motivation, ambition and support network will combine into a new plan that will guide you into landing on your feet – again.
Many businesses remain closed due to COVID-19 and 22 million Americans have filed for unemployment during the past month. Many skilled and educated workers are competing for professional roles, yet there are still jobs available.
Next: Take the time you may have spent going to classes or traveling or celebrating with family and friends to evaluate:
- *What makes you happy
- *Your true working skills
- *How you make your best decisions
(Spoiler – these are the visualize activities included in ArcVida’s 2-week trial; cohorts start every week.)
If You're Not Employed
- *If you are not working for a 40-hour/ week paycheck, list how you've earned money in the past. (We recommend creating a vision board using a tool like Canva). Then, for each method, identify who could potentially hire you now and text or email them to let them know you're available to do this work. If you've previously done freelance jobs or paid project work, reach out to this network to ask if they are hiring or can introduce you to those who are hiring.
- *Consider new gig work or work in areas experiencing high-volume now - like grocery or restaurant delivery.
- *Focus on generating cash rather than volunteering until you have your income stabilized enough to pay your monthly bills. Earning cash relieves pressure, gives your days structure, and extends your time to find the right full-time job.
- *Do not avoid any legal paying work.
- *Cut your expenses everywhere you can. Adding a roommate, lowering mileage on your car insurance, deferring student loans or mortgage payments, and going on a family cell plan are all a strong start.
- *Evaluate your health insurance. If you're uninsured now, or will be soon, check with your local state web site or healthcare.gov to initiate coverage. An uninsured medical emergency or inadequate healthcare can derail your finances for years.
If You Are Employed
- *If you are working a steady role, keep it up and see if you can increase your cash flow by adding another income stream. You'll need to divide ideas for additional income into during shelter-in-place and after; as well as before and after the current social distancing guidelines in your area.
- *Evaluate how you can personally create or add value for your team/department, company, and clients.
- *Start making suggestions. It's an all-hands-on-deck week/month/quarter. If you're sitting quietly while at home, your absence is note-worthy.
- *Lead where you can and support leaders who are adding value. Volunteer for stretch assignments you may not have previously considered.
- *We are all leaders. Share your empathy everywhere possible; there is no substitute for kindness.
- Working at home without support for childcare or aging/ailing family members is very difficult.
- Front-line and essential workers are carrying an additional burden of fear of infection.
- *Be flexible. Expect most conversations to be rescheduled as professionals try to balance home and work priorities.
- *Vocally back-up important work and cross train; no one on your team should be a single point of failure when their health or family needs take priority.
- *Use your network to consider hiring a new intern or temporary worker. Now is a wonderful time to recruit people with applicable skills who are motivated to do great work on a good team.
Companies, universities, and non-profit organizations are trying to stay relevant and this push is showing up as emails and social media marketing for free online classes, webinars, and invitation to online communities. One impact of this marketing is an implied message to "use all your new free time productively." However, many people do not have more free time and some have less (particularly caregivers!). While you may be interested in the marketing, notice that it may also be generating feelings of external pressure.
Tip: Instead of trying to be extra productive during this pandemic period, build a routine for yourself that includes downtime. Reading a novel, watching a show, going for a walk or simply relaxing will be emotionally restorative and allow you to be intentional with your energy.
Support the People Around You
Most people are coping well, until they aren't. Plan to support your colleagues, friends, and family by having long conversations, or giving them space not to be productive. Be willing to ask for support when you need it. Reciprocity is needed now more than ever.
Write Your Story
Think about the life you're living now. In the future, expect hiring managers or employers to ask, "What was your response to the Covid-19 pandemic?" Be intentional with your work, volunteering, exercise, socialization, and other activities. Then take time to write about your experience so you'll be able to discuss your actions in the future.
Graduating from college or graduate school is a rite of passage, yet it can be surprisingly lonely. COVID-19 has made that even more a truism. When you graduate and leave behind the life you had in school, you leave the tightest, largest concentration of people who are in your life stage and age All of sudden, your close-knit community covers the map from corner to corner and meeting up for beverages is a truly virtual event when you can all make a meeting work across times zones. If you can become the glue of your social group your new reality will seem less lonely and much more possible, although this planning and communication will require and dedication and won’t be simple. You can handle it – you have a degree, you are weathering a pandemic, and are prepared for situations no one ever taught you in school.
Taking action now to plan for a future of fulfilling work, pay your bills, support the people around you, intentionally fill your days and stay connected to classmates will keep you on a positive path of success. Graduating is a beginning - opening possibilities and creating opportunity - even in 2020.
Do you need support in finding and landing your next great job? Email a few lines about your situation and 2 or 3 good days and times to talk to: hello@arcvida,com.
Published on 5/7/2020