For now, what was once ordinary is now extraordinary. We have found ourselves entering into a world where our daily routine has been disrupted and we’re discovering new definitions for the meaning of normality.
So, what do we do with our time now that we are forced to stay at home? Although the future remains very uncertain, there are some things you can do right now to help you prepare for life after university or college. We recognise that students will be adapting to new ways of working and dealing with the pressures that brings, but this situation also presents some opportunities.
Why not capitalise on this unique place we find ourselves, embrace this downtime, use the extra time constructively and emerge from the other side of it motivated, prepared and ready for whatever our new normal may be? For once, we actually have the time to reflect on what fuels us, how we want to make our mark on the world and how we can best become ‘future-fit’.
“Future-fit is being ready and prepared for whatever challenges you may face and never giving up in the face of adversity. It’s about being strong, confident, focused and determined to succeed” – University of the Highlands and Islands student
“I can become future-fit by understanding my own needs and how I can best express them in the world, without being compromised or compromising the needs of others” – University of the Highlands and Islands student
Iain and Helen from the university careers team offer a range of support, information and guidance which is available to all students through the FutureMe service. To help you navigate this unusual situation, they have also put together a list of eight ways you can maximise your time during lockdown.
1. Identify your incentive and recognise your skills
What gets you up in the morning? Use this break in your regular routine to think about your future career. If you’re not sure where to start, have a look at the Career Centre website for a range of self-help resources, exercises and activities.
Or why not attend a webinar jointly organised by the careers team and HISA – one will look at ways to make the most of lockdown and the other aims to identify what’s in your virtual ‘skills rucksack’. These webinars might help you recognise what drives you and look at ways you can align your values and beliefs into your future career path and decision making. Find out more about these webinars in the events section of FutureMe.
This could also be a time to reflect on what you are learning about yourself during lockdown and your style and approach to study – do you prefer a structured or unstructured day? Are you spending more or less time on social media or watching TV? How do you feel you dealing with the new normal?
2. Revisit networking
Social distancing doesn’t stop you networking, in fact, it’s more important than ever. We are all reaching out more, not just with family and friends, but with fellow students, old friends and work colleagues.
So, connect, keep in touch and turn the extra time to your advantage by joining virtual groups which you may not have prioritised before.
You could even set up your own group or take part in one of the many virtual careers fairs, conferences and webinars being organised across the world. Ways to network
3. Perfect your CV
This is especially important if you’ve recently been furloughed or had your contract terminated. If you’ve been made redundant, then you might be thinking about making a fresh start and getting yourself ready for applying for new roles. There are things you can do to lay the groundwork now and strengthen your CV. And, if you need a little guidance, you can get some help and feedback by connecting with the university careers team through FutureMe.
4. Practise video interviewing
Coronavirus aside, this is becoming the new norm for interviewing. Familiarising yourself with how this scenario works is good for your confidence so that when your next interview happens over Skype, Microsoft Teams or Zoom, you’ll be in a strong position. Tips for video interview preparation
5. Gain some virtual work experience
With a high chance for us not being able to resume our normal life for a few months, some of you may need to re-think your plans for the summer.
Consider having a look at virtual internships (more and more organisations are offering these) or draft an email introducing yourself to companies you would like to work for to see what might be on offer.
Or how about some freelance work using some of the skills that you already have, such as online tutoring or editing? Or perhaps you can find an organisation or company to volunteer with – there has never been more demand for it than now and this will give you skills and experience much valued by employers, as well as giving back to your community. Signposting to volunteering opportunities
6. Look into LinkedIn and build your online brand
This is one activity you won’t regret in the enforced downtime, as LinkedIn becomes more popular than ever (currently more than 660 million users). As well as getting your LinkedIn profile up to scratch, remember to connect with the university LinkedIn account.
Use Twitter, Facebook, Instagram to have conversations about your passions and interests. If you enjoy books, share your latest reading. You can always start your own project, share your enthusiasm and show off your expertise online through a blog, podcast or a YouTube channel. This way, you will be developing a highly employable online brand for yourself.
7. Explore post-coronavirus options
No idea about what to do with your life after you complete your studies? Or you know which sector you want to go into, but you lack details about which roles you could perform in it? Do you already know what you want to do, but feel unsure about how to get there?
Career research can help you with all of these, because becoming more knowledgeable about what the labour market has on offer for you will help with your career development.
So, spend some time on the university Career Centre website or book an appointment to speak to Iain or Helen about your next steps. Visit the university alumni LinkedIn site and ask our alumni about their graduate jobs and the sectors they work in.
Drop an email to that company whose projects intrigue and interest you. Inform yourself about what it takes to enter a certain profession and contrast your findings with your own interests, skills and values. Then decide if you want to give it a go by gaining some work experience in that area or simply move to the next job on your list.
8. Adapt to whatever comes next, be resilient
Remember that this list is just a guide and that you don’t need to do all of it to be successful in your career. Your starting point should always be to keep yourself safe and sound, perhaps followed by asking yourself a few questions about your career motivations and priorities to determine which options are more appropriate for the path ahead.
We don’t know what’s going to happen to the job market in the future and we don’t know how this pandemic will affect our careers.
What we do know is that there will still be jobs available for you out there once a sense of normality returns, so maybe the best approach is to steer through this current situation in whatever way feels right for you, not worrying too much about what the future has in store for us, while doing your best to continue to develop skills that may prove to be key. Remember that a bright future awaits you and that by preparing now you will reap the rewards.
“Being Future-Fit means preparing myself to adapt to changes in the workplace, by being motivated to learn new skills, by using new tools and techniques and by being ready for tomorrow.” – University of the Highlands and Islands student
Career Centre – Still open, online and here for you
There has never been a better time to make use of university Career Centre. We are still open and all our services are available online. We can support you in your career development, help you plan and prepare and, most importantly, we can help you polish your employability skills and guide you while you make sense of your current situation, tailoring our advice and guidance to you and your unique career aspirations. Get in touch today through FutureMe or contact Iain or Helen at email@example.com
Lessons in lockdown – preparing for the new normal
Thursday 30 April – 12 noon – 1pm
Webex Teams – firstname.lastname@example.org
Register on FutureMe
What’s in your rucksack?
Tuesday 5 May – 12 noon to 1pm
Webex Teams – email@example.com
Register on FutureMe