By Phoebe D. Osei
“Unprecedented times”. Two words we have heard over and over again during this period that will go down in the history books. And for those of us completing a degree in the middle of a pandemic, we quickly became aware of hurdles we were previously not aware of before.
No one could have predicted this – everything coming to a grinding halt. Very quickly we realised that this tiny microbe only visible under a microscope had humbled us to one crucial point of realisation: we do not have absolute control over everything.
As I write this, it is day 91 of the UK lockdown. When will it be fully lifted, you ask? We don’t know. But here are some things to consider as students who are still unsure about what is next after this blows over.
1. Career preparations
We were able to physically attend careers fairs before the pandemic, but now we modify that and look into online career fairs, info sessions and virtual internships. A good place to start is by making virtual contact with career advisors. Many career and alumni departments continue to be of resource to their graduates. And with the new challenges Covid-19 has presented, these departments are more open to helping their recent graduates connect a dot or two. You simply have to ask to see if this service is still available to you at your university. Potential employers will be looking to see who did what with their time even in the face of global uncertainty, and if you have something to show for it, that’s a step in the right direction.
2. Education beyond education
“I don’t have enough time”. Now we do. “I’m scared to try something new”. If not now, then when? Many of us have knowledge we want to acquire, skills to develop, and insight into issues not covered by our university curriculum. Ask yourself, “Have I made the most of the extra time this lockdown has given me to work on my interests, passions, and feed my curiosity?” If you have, consider how this newfound knowledge of yours is useful to you, or to others. Maybe new ideas have sprung from this, ready to be implemented after lockdown. If you haven’t started on something, lockdown isn’t over yet.
3. Your wellbeing
Keep track of how you are feeling. Some are having a more stressful time than others. Calling family and friends and people you trust, and love is a way of self-care and being there for others. Not only are you making sure they are doing well, you are taking care of that emotional stress of wondering if they are.
Be mindful about your wellbeing and those in your circle by making sure you are doing what you need to do to keep yourself where you want to be physically, emotionally and mentally. See how you can incorporate your wellness checks into a healthy routine. You might find that this will help you once life returns to normal.
One of the hopes is that we come out the other side with some growth in our personal development. Perfection is not the goal, nor is how many things you checked off your list. We are still and should always be learners, even after graduating; it does not stop in the classroom.
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