How College Graduates Can Gain Work Experience During a Global Crisis

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You’re entering what should be one of the most exhilarating and monumental moments of your life. Usually, this period is filled with anticipation of what’s to come once you exit the commencement ceremony, degree in hand. 

Unfortunately, unforeseen circumstances can pop up at any moment, interrupting the seemingly-solidified next steps in your journey. To make matters worse, the media is filled with negativity during a crisis. It’s easy for all of that built-up anticipation to increase job search anxieties. 

All of a sudden, your postgraduate times of empowerment make you feel utterly helpless. 

The truth is, even when a crisis influences the world around you, you still have the power to create a successful future. No matter what’s impacting the current job search climate, there are resources you can use and steps you can take to gain the work experience you need to come out on top of your career during a crisis. 

Here’s what you can do to gain experience in the midst of a crisis: 

Utilize alumni resources

Colleges have a way of coming together during a crisis. Students, professors, staff, and alumnus unify to offer support and encouragement when any part of the college experience is negatively impacted. 

Reach out and connect with those in your alumni network. Start by researching the alumni association on your school’s website. Many colleges have connection opportunities prepared for you to explore. Some even have job boards dedicated to positions created by alumnus and dedicated to those in the school’s network. 

Aside from directly looking for job opportunities, look within your alumni network for support during this challenging time. Use LinkedIn and CareerShift to connect and reach out with questions regarding your specific situation. For example: 

  • Did you ever struggle to gain work experience after graduation? If so, what did you do? 
  • What do you think is the most important thing I can do now to set-up my future for success? 
  • Would you mind reviewing my resume and cover letter? 
  • Do you or anyone in your network know of any entry-level positions or internships I’d qualify for? 

It’s also important to note that many companies put in extra work during a crisis of any magnitude. Depending on the situation, they may donate their time to professionals, create new campaigns to assist those in need, and some even create in-demand products for those assisting with the situation. 

While connecting with your alumni network, let them know you’re open to volunteer opportunities. For instance, if you’re a marketing major, you can aid in creating content that’s designed to help specific professionals succeed during the crisis situation. 

Take career-specific courses

I know, I know — you’ve just graduated. Enrolling in new courses isn’t at the top of your to-do list. 

But hear me out. The courses you have taken in college are overarching and have prepared you for a variety of career options. Honing specific skills post-graduation enables you to better direct your career path. 

Coursera, for example, offers courses, certificates, and degrees from accredited universities and companies. After researching exactly what companies you narrow down in your job search are looking for, you can choose from hundreds of free courses, (while others start as low as $39.00). 

Thoroughly research the job description when you spot your dream opportunity. Take note of any special skills and certifications listed and consider where you lack the most experience. Take extra time you have while your campus and potential employers are focusing on crisis management to enroll in a course or skill specialization. Be proactive in gaining the necessary experience to enter the workforce prepared for your ideal line of work.  

Identify tech-savvy companies

Every company is impacted by an emergency situation in different ways. Many of these crisis scenarios lead to temporary shutdowns and, as a result, necessary virtual work environments. A multitude of companies actually already operate in a virtual setting or at least have the right technology and are prepared to do so successfully. 

Look for entry-level opportunities and even internships at these tech-savvy, forward-thinking companies. If there are no current openings that align with your degree, reach out to a company leader. Discuss your interest in the field and their company, specifically, and your willingness to jump in and help wherever they need it most.

Be direct in your requests and questions. Company leaders understand how a global crisis impacts recent college graduates and may be more willing to create a space for you to gain relevant work experience. 

What challenges are you worried will impact your experience entering the workforce during a global crisis? Share below!

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Val Matta
Val Matta
Val Matta is the co-owner and leader of business development at CareerShift, a comprehensive job hunting and career management solution for companies, outplacement firms, job seekers and university career centers. You can connect with her and the CareerShift team on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, LinkedIn.