College is over? But I didn’t get to say a final goodbye to my friends. What about placement? How am I supposed to find a job in this economy? When will I be able to fly back home with all these travel restrictions in place? As someone who constantly keeps herself busy with one thing or another, what will I do with all this free time? When countries across the world started imposing lockdown due to the COVID-19 outbreak, these were some of the thoughts I was engulfed with and for the majority of the quarantine period.
Personally, I am someone who is used to accountability. I do things because I know they need to be done. I have always been answerable to someone be it professors, fellow students or colleagues. I am at home all day now, who is going to check if I am doing something or anything at all? Who is holding me accountable for any of the tasks? The fact that I did not have to answer anyone and with no exact guidance I found it exceptionally difficult to find motivation to do something with all this time.
A few days back, I read a piece written by Bill Gates dedicated to class of 2020, “You inherit a world that has already proven that progress is possible— a world that has rebuilt after war, vanquished smallpox, fed a growing population, and enabled more than a billion people to climb out of extreme poverty.
That progress didn’t happen by accident or fate. It was the result of people just like you who made a commitment that whatever else they did with their lives and careers, they would contribute to this shared mission of propelling us all forward. Class of 2020, these are not easy times. But we will get through them. And with your leadership, the world will be stronger than before.”
Did reading that help me with anything? Not entirely. However, it did push me to do something with all this time. It made me understand that adaptability is the key here. We need to adapt to the situation right now and we need to be prepared to adapt to whatever happens in the post COVID-19 world.
It was after reading this piece, I began fine tuning some existing skills I possess along with learning some new skills. I started with structuring my days into time blocks and decided to do tasks accordingly. For when I high on energy, I do all things creative and indulge in tasks that require 100% focus and attention, followed by ensuring that I am in touch with my friends and family and of course, scrolling through various social media platforms!
For as long as I can remember, I swore to never indulge in anything related to designing be it on a digital or a non-digital medium simply because design has not exactly been my strong suite, however, during this period, I ended up spending a lot of my time learning illustrator and creating artwork. One of the less appreciated advantage of the present time is the fact that right now, we are all in a position to learn things at our own pace, there is no time crunch. We can take our own sweet time to do things that interest us.
Of course, one cannot spend all their time doing just one thing for days which brings me to the next thing I have been doing; online courses and certifications. A lot of platforms have offered free access to a lot of courses, people across the world are taking these courses, getting certificates and adding it to their resume with an assumption that it would make them stand apart from their competition when job hunting.
I did too but here’s the tricky thing about these online courses, everyone has access to them and everyone is doing it and one is not doing anything particularly different or brining anything different on the table, if anything you become a part of the crowd. I am not advocating against online courses, they are great and I found them extremely helpful in broadening my horizons. But pursuing online courses is not enough. What gives value to these certificates is working on actual projects. It is not just about learning something online in a few hours and merely downloading a certificate. I took a course on how to build a website and improve SEO and after that I have started to work on my web portfolio.
I have also been attending a lot of webinars relating to my field and on topics that interest me. I believe another underrated advantage of this time is the blurring line between geographical boundaries. So many brands and communities are trying to ensure that they remain connected with their audience, a lot of them have resorted to podcasts and webinars and now, I can get involved in discussion with professionals from all across the globe without feeling awkward about it because this is the current trend and I am just participating in it. Webinars have also been helping me get curious about a lot of things in a positive way and more importantly, connecting with new people. Until the situation gets better, a webinar is definitely my idea of a social event.
While being productive has helped me a lot, there have also been days when I have read the news and felt uneasy to a point where I did not have the motivation to do any of these things; which is also okay. In the middle of a global pandemic, when I know there is a lot happening around me, it can be hard to keep up my spirits and I have spent those days with nothing but watching a movie that brings me comfort or listening to music.
This is a tough time but not a lot of it is in our control so I say, we work around the things which are in our control and do our bit.
Over the last few days, I have compiled a list of free or discounted resources being offered by different brands, a list of webinars taking place and a list of online courses being offered related to media and communication and would be really happy to share those with anyone who feels it would be of help to them.