During these unprecedented times, it’s important to remember that the concept of the career ladder is outdated. In fact, most people’s ascent looks more like snakes and ladders: ups, downs, linear moves, and major challenges.
College students preparing to graduate are undoubtedly facing a tough job market, just as their older family members did in the 2007-2009 financial crisis, after 9/11, or any other recession in U.S. history.
And do you know what Instagram, WhatsApp, Uber, Venmo, and Slack all have in common? These everyday household-name companies were founded as solutions to modern-day needs during the notoriously difficult 2007-2009 period. This just proves how innovation can, and does, rise to the fore in bleak times of uncertainty.
As some 1.3 million college students prepare to leave their academic studies behind them for now, there’s no denying that resilience and optimism are needed. With that in mind, here are 7 pieces of sage advice for graduates to keep in mind.
1. Utilize social media.
It’s never been so easy to interact with professionals that you admire. In-person informational interviews might be out of the question for now due to social distancing guidelines, but you can use the time at home to strategically engage via platforms like Instagram and Twitter. Reach out with one insightful question, or ask executives/founders to host an ‘Ask Me Anything’ (AMA) live stream.
2. Reposition your skills.
Maybe you had big goals to work in an industry that has been hit hard but remember that your nimble skills are likely still in demand elsewhere. For example, if your dream was to work at a fashion magazine, it’s probable that your aptitude for communication and your creative thinking would be treasured in another field. You don’t have to give up on your passions and the job you want will come your way eventually, but in the present moment, it’s perfectly OK to apply yourself to other industries.
3. Think differently.
Innovation is certainly the name of the game. If you are starting a new entry-level or junior role, continuously question what you could be doing to fill a gap or problem solve.
4. Hone your interview skills.
Use the downtime to perfect your resume and cover letters - perhaps even swap yours with a trusted peer for their opinion, and you can offer feedback on theirs. Practice your interview skills out loud, sign up to networking events online, and engage digitally with other young and seasoned professionals in your preferred industries.
5. Have multiple plans.
Take this time to truly brainstorm where your strengths lie and position yourself as an asset to companies in those sectors. The worst thing anyone, at any level, can do is rest on their laurels and assume things will work out. It is always best to have several prospects.
6. Continue your learning.
As every industry feels the effects of the global pandemic, there is no shortage of free online courses, webinars, summits, podcasts, and panel discussions currently happening virtually. As passes to the conferences and events that these thought leaders speak at could usually set you back hundreds of dollars, take advantage of any opportunity to learn from their wisdom.
7. Be patient.
Remember that the world is still turning and as the old adage goes, “this too shall pass.” Hiring freezes will eventually be lifted and work will come your way.
Ask anyone you admire and they will tell you: no successful career comes without a bump, or two, in the road.