First, let’s celebrate your graduation. You did it! Congratulations! Let’s also acknowledge that this has probably not been the year you expected. I get it. I feel for you. And I’m here to help, so let’s get started with some ways that you can view this as a chance to shine in a world that really needs your light right now.
- Did you have a job offer that was rescinded? Keep in touch with that employer by dropping them an email every few weeks to see how they’re doing and tell them what you’re up to. When the hiring freeze thaws, you want to be the first person they think of to fill their open role.
- Call your school’s career center. Ask them for advice. Then do whatever they tell you to do! Seriously, these are the people who get calls from companies and alumni who want to hire people. You want them to know that you’ve been doing the work to find a job when an opportunity comes across their desk.
- Build a professional network. Call the alums of your school. Call your aunts and uncles. Call your parent’s friends. Ask your professors for contacts. Here’s what you say:
- “I’d like to learn about your job/company/industry. How did you get started?
- How has it been impacted by the corona crisis?
- Here’s my plan for finding a job…is there anything else you think I should do? Anyone else I should talk to?”
- Write about what you know. Start a blog and publish on LinkedIn. You just finished 4 years of college, so I know you know stuff. Share your ideas.
- Upskill. Learn to code. Tech will rebound first in our economy and you’ll be ready if you can code. Get exposure initially through a free online course and then do a coding Bootcamp. While others are spinning their wheels, you’ll be adding the hottest job skills to your resume. Pay for it through an ISA (income-sharing agreement), but look carefully at this to make sure the terms are reasonable. Or get a job or two to stock away the money to pay cash: Deliver for Amazon, get hazard pay at the grocery store, deliver pizzas at night. You’ll be so much more marketable. This is the skill set of the future. Just please don’t add to your student debt load if you’ve already borrowed a lot of money!
- Build your own website. If you don’t know how, learn! Take some of those hours you spend online and learn how all that technology works. Try WordPress. Even I figured it out, so I know you can do it! Add your resume, your blog, a research paper you wrote that you’re proud of, some of the pictures you’ve taken.
- Volunteer for something you believe in. Figure out what you believe in and work for it. You won’t earn money, but you’ll grow, you ‘ll meet people and you’ll have great references. Tutor kids online. Mow your elderly neighbor’s lawn for free. See beyond yourself, even though this was supposed to be your year.
- Start a business. Figure out what people need right now – online sports coaching? Website building? Zoom lessons? My daughter is listening to a dad read Harry Potter to his son on a podcast – there is a market for what you know and what you can do. I see a need for someone to engineer online celebrations and graduations, as well as the yard signs that help us celebrate in lieu of parties now that we’re all staying home.
- Find an internship. I know you want a full-time job, but we’re all recalibrating our expectations. Get a foot in the door. Start-ups always need help. Work for free if you need to.
- Learn to manage money. If you learn when times are tight, you’ll be setting yourself up for success. Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover is my personal favorite. Establish long-term goals, do the math so you know how much money you’ll need to achieve your goals, and have a plan. You need a career plan and a financial plan. As we say in my family – Plan your work and work your plan.
- Come up with your own brilliant idea! You are smart and resourceful. Come up with 10 ideas of your own – you can do it!
- Become rejection proof. Check out this TED talk by Jia Jiang to see how he learned to deal with rejection and became unafraid of asking for what he wanted. Every job search entails rejection, so learning how to power through it will serve you well.
Class of 2020 – good luck! I’m here for you. We’re all rooting for you and watching to see how you will turn this situation into an opportunity to show the world how amazing you really are. Try one of these 12 ideas to fuel your job search in a tough market and to use your summer to add to your skillset and grow as a person.