SPS Employability Officer Annmarie shares her advice and tips for students on how to keep a focus on careers and employability in the face of anxiety and unease during the COVID-19 lockdown.
At a time of unprecedented change and anxiety, thinking about placements, internships and graduate jobs can seem something of a luxury and in some cases may even provoke a feeling of anxiety.
This is to be expected given that, when it comes to recruitment, we are all used to working with defined calendars of activity and methods of hiring and these are subject to ongoing change in response to recent events.
However, the current situation presents us with a unique opportunity to develop and apply skills in a way that we never thought possible and that can be used to impress employers regardless of the type of vacancy or role for which you are applying.
Flexibility, resilience and coping with change
Change can make us feel helpless and lacking in control over the immediate or long-term future. By proactively taking control over your planning, decision making and next steps you can continue to develop networks, applications skills and opportunities to demonstrate how you have made positive use of this unusual, unexpected and far reaching challenge!
Use your university support services and nurture your networks
Make use of the support and well being services on campus, most have now started operating online and this is true of myself and the Careers and Employability Service.
Schedule online meetings with your peers and think of this as yet another chance to demonstrate your adaptability and resilience as well as your team work and organisational skills! Support each other and keep on making plans as things will get moving again eventually.
Keep up to date with employers
Gradcracker, RateMyPlacement and others are all carrying announcements from their employers updating students about their individual plans of actions regarding placements, internships and graduate jobs. For SMEs (Small to Medium Enterprises) the situation is likely to be much more day to day.
If you have secured a job, internship or placement and are concerned the employer will withdraw the offer, try to speak to their graduate recruitment team (be patient, they will be handling a lot of enquiries). If the offer is cancelled, ask if you can defer the place until next summer. Ask what you can do to stay in touch to show them you are still interested in working for the company them at some point in the future.
Take advantage of opportunities to volunteer if you can
This might not be graduate work but at a time of national urgency there are opportunities to make a real difference to everyday life in the UK right now.
The Met Office is seeking volunteers to enter historical UK rainfall data into Excel. To help transcribe the rainfall data, see www.rainfallrescue.org
The Red Cross is signing up volunteers at https://www.redcross.org.uk/about-us/what-we-do/uk-emergency-response/coronavirus
The government is currently creating a volunteer army to support the NHS through this crisis. Genuinely helping people and making a difference in this pandemic will be a rewarding experience – it will also provide further evidence of the employability skills all employers require.