As a creative student navigating finishing my undergraduate degree during a global pandemic, I have had to think outside the box when considering how to not only find, but create opportunities for myself post-graduation.
Throughout nearly eleven weeks of lockdown, spent back at my parent’s home 263 miles from Manchester, I have had my fair share of woes regarding my impending graduation, some you’d expect from a graduating student, but some specifically Covid-19 related.
“What world am I going into? How can I work towards a career if internship and apprenticeship opportunities aren’t running due to COVID-19? What do I do with the skills I have developed and nurtured in my degree?“
These are completely valid and reasonable concerns, given that we don’t have access to the face-to-face reassurance of our tutors at the moment. While I admit to spending a day or two wallowing in graduation self-pity, I have since found ways to be prepare for the future I am facing, one without the comfort of being in education, which has allowed me to feel excited about the prospect of graduating during a global pandemic.
The main piece of advice I can offer the graduating class of 2020 is to consider the fact that no other graduating cohort will have had to face the challenges we are faced with right now. This may not sound like advice, but hear me out. We are facing a unique set of challenges with no definite ending, so we must adapt and learn how to succeed during this. The benefit to graduating during this time is that we will always be able to say that we were resilient and resourceful in how we utilised this unprecedented time to self-motivate.
We have been stuck at home for eleven weeks, nine of those I spent completing my assignments for my undergraduate degree and two I have spent adapting my CV to show potential employers how I have utilised lockdown in the following ways…
Create a professional platform
Regardless of what you have studied in your degree, but especially if you have completed a degree in a creative field, make yourself a website. There are plenty of places where you can do this for free (WordPress and Wix to name two), however I would like to recommend SquareSpace. Having created websites and blogs previously using a variety of different website-building tools, SquareSpace has offered the easiest and most professional looking website I have found thus far. Initially I was put off by the price, it seemed a lot to be spending on an online resource. However I found out that students who sign up with their academic emails are granted 50% off, working out at less than £10 a month. I have included a digital CV, an about page, a blog and direct links to my social media channels and LinkedIn. This allows me to offer potential employers a one-stop-shop for finding out about what I can offer them.
Showcase your work creatively
If you didn’t want to make a website, or felt a website isn’t the correct format for you as an individual, I would recommend using Linktree – a way of linking your online content in one place, so a potential employer can easily navigate all you have to offer. This can include Instagram, an online portfolio, blog or your LinkedIn profile.
Think outside the box with a ‘creative CV’
If you are hoping for a career in a cultural, creative or artistic field make yourself a ‘creative CV’. Adobe are offering the full Adobe Suite for free to students until July 6th, 2020. You can gain access to the full suite through Manchester Met information page here. I created my CV using PhotoShop as that is the programme I am most familiar with but Illustrator is available too, as well as a plethora of other programmes, online tutorials and videos.
Embrace online learning
If you’re missing learning and education, the Open University offer a wide range of free courses from psychology to sports science, history, arts, languages and law. This not only shows initiative but that you can self-motivate, further illustrating to a future employer that you utilised your time in lockdown to educate yourself beyond your university education. In addition some Ivy League universities also offer similar free courses. Some are self-paced, others are taught and start on specific dates. Through this link you’ll be able to find hundreds of potential courses from universities such as Harvard and Yale. The only aspect you pay for is the certificate at the end, which isn’t compulsory, ranging from £20 – £70.
Embrace the unknown
This is a scary time filled with personal, political and societal troubles. With lockdown easing but the pandemic very much present in our everyday lives the idea of ‘future’ seems uncertain. Graduating at any time is a step into the unknown and a step away from education, some for the final time. Graduating during a pandemic is anything but ideal, and while Covid-19 may have changed or even cancelled your plans I believe what the graduating class of 2020 have to offer future employers is invaluable: flexibility, resourcefulness and most importantly, resilience.