Dear 2020 college graduates,
Y’all are AWESOME. Not that other graduates who came before you weren’t but, y’all need to big up yourselves. Finishing college successfully and graduating on its own is hard, but to do so in the midst of an unexpected global pandemic is huge. 2020 has been exhausting for many folks and adding a pandemic has been distressing, confusing, and just strange. And then having to take online classes, study and sit tests at home and then graduating via Zoom is different. But you did it and you should be super proud of yourself.
I know you might be thinking, why me? While in college, you are made to feel that the world is your oyster and there is so much optimism you are bombarded with. And then to be thrown into a world that is suffering. A world recovering from a health epidemic, a world with brutal racial injustice, a world where unemployment is at its peak, a world where people are being laid off from their jobs, a world of uncertainty. This isn’t the world I pictured for myself. And I know many others can relate. So what do we do? How do we navigate these uncertain times? How do we prepare for life after COVID-19?
Pivot and adapt where necessary
2020 graduates, there might be certain career paths you might have wanted to take but considering the economic state of many countries, it might not be the right decision. One way to successfully navigate this time is to know when to pivot. There are certain industries which have suffered a massive blow for example aviation, tourism, oil & gas, hospitality, sports while industries such as healthcare, insurance and telecommunications have blossomed. So, it is advisable that you do your research on the industry you are looking to go into and how severely it has been impacted by COVID.
With regards to adapting, we can all agree that times are not like they used to be. We are creating a new normal. The new normal for a while might look like less office time and more zoom calls and working from home. The new normal might look like people at low level jobs with less qualifications and skills being laid off because small businesses do not have the funds to keep people who are not extremely skilled and beneficial to them.
Also, it is knowing how to adapt to the change of times. For example, if you happen to be a small business owner, it is knowing how to market your business and reach out to clients on social media or taking advantage of video streaming services as a means to network and connect with people.
It’s simple as this, the people who fail to adapt to the times will be left behind and severely impacted.
Make yourself marketable and employable
As mentioned before, people with less qualifications or who are less skilled are oftentimes being laid off from their jobs. Employers need individuals who are highly beneficial to the company and this means individuals who are the most skilled and with better qualifications. So, it’s important to have this in mind and seek out ways to improve your skills and make yourself more employable. And there is no excuse. We have Google University, we have YouTube, we have so many online resources from courses to webinars, books, podcasts, literally everything you will need to know about your industry is available on Google. Set out time each day to educate yourself, master your craft and be a few steps ahead in your industry. Learn from the greats in your industry, follow them on social media, read their books, watch interviews with them. Even though college is done and dusted, you should never stop learning.
Another point which happened to be controversial over the lockdown period, is learning a new skill. I am a huge advocate of this. It could be graphic design, blogging, vlogging, making wigs, whatever it is, learn and DO. This is a great way to also make an extra income while looking for jobs or working a 9-5. Employers also like to see that “extra.” If you happen to be a finance geek and you can’t keep quiet about anything finance related, you could consider starting a podcast and breaking down all the jargons in finance. I’ll listen.
Be patient with yourself
This point cannot be overemphasised. I know these times are intense. There is so much pressure to land a well paying job and start working your way up the corporate ladder. You might be seeing your peers get their dream jobs and it can be depressing. I want you to realise everyone’s path is different. This is one of the biggest lessons I learnt right after college. My path is not like the next person’s and it’s about being comfortable with this reality. It’s okay not to get your dream job right out of college. Most people don’t. Don’t be too hard on yourself. There is already so much pressure from sending countless job applications that you don’t need to worry about how XYZ is now working at a Fortune 500 company. Focus on your own lane and understand that there are different avenues to success. Success is not a straight line. It is filled with twists and turns. Again, be patient with yourself and work on being as marketable and employable as possible.
You got this. You are the chosen class. You are given this because you can handle it and thrive.