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Entering the Workforce During a Pandemic

July 17, 2020 by Jill Granberry

This summer looks quite different for the graduating class of 2020 than the typical experience graduates have come to expect. Before the pandemic, graduates might enjoy a celebratory summer vacation followed by a summer internship or job search. But COVID-19 had other plans, and now is an unprecedented time to enter the workforce – especially for new grads. But it’s also a great time for new graduates to forge their own path through uncharted territory which, if done strategically and intentionally, could benefit their careers in the long run.

Consider Internships
It’s not news that almost every industry has been affected by the pandemic. For many college graduates, the industry they hoped to build a career in may not be stable right now. But that doesn’t mean they can’t gain valuable experience and make some money in the process. Many companies are stuck in one of two places: they either don’t have the resources to higher experienced talent or they are flooded with resumes from experienced professionals. College graduates generally don’t win in either scenario. Positioning yourself for a paid internship will stand out as a positive short-term solution for the company while gaining valuable experience. And you never know, you could find yourself in a full-time permanent position at the same company once things stabilize!

Jump into Freelance Work
Many small businesses are struggling right now. Companies may not have the budget for a full-time hire, but they need help with daily tasks to keep their business up and running, especially while they’re attempting to navigate the federal loan process. Generation Z graduates have the technological know-how, energy, and  organizational skills to support struggling businesses right now. And, if they are performing that service as a freelancer, they can help multiple companies at once to gain more experience and earn more money. There are numerous websites available to point graduates in the right direction when it comes to freelance work.

Delay Work if Possible
In Europe, taking a gap year is the norm. Between high school and college, many students will take a break to experience the world outside of their hometown. Traveling in the traditional sense may not be possible right now, but you new grads might consider learning more about other industries through research and travelling where and when it is safe to do so – even if it is just within their own state. What are the unforeseen positive outcomes to the pandemic? In what ways can college graduates support this new world? Learning more about the world around them is an important step forward to finding the right path.

We cannot control the events of the world around us, including pandemics, economic recessions and more. But we can control how we respond, and that will make all the difference when it comes to future careers. Embrace the change around us, decide how you’ll be a part of positive change, and set out to make your own path to success. The literal definition of “Commencement” is “a beginning” or start. College graduates have a unique opportunity to start making their own path right now and make their mark on history during an already historical time.

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