Impact of Lockdown on a Student’s Career

10

The best ideas surface in times of pressure.

You are a college student on the brink of graduation. All you have to do is give your final exams, throw your graduation caps in the air, land a placement/outfield job, and enter a whole new stage of life.  Except you didn’t hand your last paper over. You didn’t throw the black trapezium-shaped cap along with your friends. And instead of discussing salary packages with companies, you were forced to stay where you were as the whole world came to a locked-in standstill.

This is the unfortunate situation of many youngsters around the world today. Being one step away from working, earning and living life on self-decided terms, but not being able to do it is the stinging reality of these individuals as COVID-19 continues to plague the world. Youngsters’ (and to a greater extent students’) careers have been jolted by lockdown. No educated student wants to live without revenue. Therefore, one can safely conclude that the lack of job opportunities has students wondering what the future has in store.

It’s no secret that this situation is like a mini-recession of sorts. Thousands are losing their jobs or shutting shop. This isn’t very favourable for students, because they are totally dependent on employers to provide work. What is happening is that most employers are cutting, reducing or outright scrapping their graduate student hiring figures. If the number of employers are dwindling, there is no work to be given. The opportunities are few and the potential employees are many.  In addition, a report from The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) suggests that the post-Corona job market is likely to take a hit as well. It highlights the fact that graduates entering this market are more likely to earn significantly less during their first few years of work. Throw in the fact that there is no scheduled date for normal life to resume, and you have an enormous problem that is a threat to the very productivity of the world’s youth.

However, every cloud has a silver lining, and the dark clouds hanging above right now are no exception. Students may not be able to work in the true sense of the word, but as a wise man once said, “The best ideas surface in times of pressure.” The employment sector has adapted to the situation quite well, and this has trickled all the way down to anyone looking to start his or her careers. This situation is as close to a pause button as you can get in real life, so while the world takes a break, it’s important to keep the focus on the prize and develop yourself. With the right mindset and a thorough game plan, any student can step into the work environment more potent and skilled than ever.

The first step is to have a relaxed mind and a methodical approach. Do not stop searching for jobs that are related to your degree or any other skills you may possess. While doing so, you may also want to look for the odd one that is open to everyone. You may not be able to go out to an office, sit at a desk and glue a phone to your ear, but what you can do is work from home. This way of working has never had as much demand behind it as it does now, so now is the time to jump on this bandwagon. It’s convenient, it’s efficient and it nets you the starting revenue you need.

Simultaneously, it is crucial to sharpen existing skills while also developing new skills. Everybody’s ‘employability’, if you will, is currently on hold, so it’s open to upgrade. Students need to identify their strengths and weaknesses, reinforce the strengths and weed out the weaknesses. Not only that, they also need to find new and different ways in which they can use them to their advantage. Employers are after flexible and multifaceted employees, so this could be the time to check both the boxes.

And there is nothing stopping you from picking up new skills and talents. There are tons of resources on the internet – online courses, video tutorials, etc. Many companies are also offering webinars to hone your marketing and networking skills. So go out there (you are there all the time these days anyway) and dive into the vast platter of knowledge at your fingertips. You could learn a new language, a new software or a new skill. You can even start that YouTube channel or blog you have always dismissed as a mere hobby. People list their totally irrelevant hobbies on their CVs these days, so there’s that. All these are bonuses to your employment factor. What’s required is not quality, or quantity, but a balanced mix of both. The more you plan, research and construct your skills and talents, the better chance you stand of being hired for the job you desire.

It’s definitely a hard time for students, but not that hard that you have to slip into complacency. Sure, everybody is screaming abuses at 2020 on social media and calling it all sorts of (deserved) things, but that need not become your reality. Students are the most dynamic humans on the planet. Today, more than ever, they need to evolve and adapt. As for the title, the impact of COVID- 19 and lockdown on students is difficult to deal with, but not impossible. I would say the impact is decided by what you do with it. You can either succumb to the pressure, or you can dust off the carbon and shine like a diamond. Think of this lockdown as a pit stop in your race – you set off from it faster and better than ever. To all the students reading this, stay safe, stay productive and hope for the best. Remember, the night is darkest just before the dawn. Keep going, the dawn is coming.

 

Pranav Unnikrishnan
(Batch 2021)