Graduating From My Kitchen
I never knew that my last lecture was my last lecture. I packed up my flat in an afternoon, handed in my keys, and left the city I called home for three wonderful years in the blink of an eye. I finished my degree from my living room sofa, and I graduated in my kitchen. From that same kitchen, I am writing this article in an attempt to help those in the same boat.
Thousands of people have lost their jobs, and thousands of companies have fewer vacancies than they usually would. Sadly, it feels as though now, more than ever, companies are reluctant to employ recent graduates. Whilst I wish I could give you a magic solution to ensure your employment, I can't. If you have one, let me know! What I can do, however, is help ease your stress somewhat by sharing some tools I have found useful.
Communication is the most effective stress reliever. Talk to your parents, friends, siblings, or even just write it all down. Know that 'talking about your feelings isn't a sign of weakness. It's part of taking charge of your wellbeing and doing what you can to stay healthy' . Talking about it can be genuinely empowering, and will impact your mental health in the best way possible. Be aware that 'you don't need to sit your loved ones down for a big conversation about your wellbeing' , that will put unnecessary pressure on it and potentially make you feel worse. Let the conversation bloom naturally. If you feel like talking about it, then you absolutely should. Plus, the people in your life will want to know how you're doing.
Just Keep Swimming
We write 2000 word sample articles, edit our CV for every job we apply to, write numerous cover letters, and often, we get no response. Undoubtedly this struggle is reflective of the usual frustrations of job hunting, but being amidst a pandemic does not ease that stress by any means whatsoever. It amplifies it. As hard as it is to endure, it doesn't mean you should give up. Nor is it any reflection on your skill or ability to do the job at hand. Try to stay positive and keep going. You only need one 'yes'. Then, you can keep climbing that ladder of success.
Aside from the mental impact, graduating during COVID bears a substantial financial burden. Don't feel as though you can't apply for help from the government. Chances are, it will lift your stress massively and will provide you with a blanket of security. A lot of employers are now part of the 'Kickstart Scheme'. If you aren't sure what that is, it 'provides funding to employers to create new 6-month job placements for young people who are currently on Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment' . Employers might be more inclined to take you on if you're eligible for this scheme because it's relatively risk-free for them. So, if your finances are a burden, apply for Job Seekers Allowance or Universal Credit. You'll feel more secure, and it might even help you get a job.
You have the time and resources at your fingertips to expand your skillset. As much as it is essential not to let the pressures of lockdown impact you, it's integral to your future employability that you use this time wisely. Interviewers will absolutely ask you what you did during this time, and they will expect a constructive response. You could do online courses in things like SEO, coding, Microsoft Office and so on. Or, you could build yourself up as a brand. Make yourself a website, and start freelancing in your field. Graduate Recruitment Bureau co-founder and marketing director Dan Hawes says to 'make sure you have a reason for doing what you're doing during this time, otherwise it will just look very unfocused' .
It's Okay Not To Be Okay
Whilst you might be on top of it all, it's okay to feel rough sometimes. Continually maintaining a positive attitude towards this situation is exhausting. So, if you start to feel like you need to sob into your pillow for five minutes, or need to have a pyjama day with junk food, go for it. Just make sure that you get back up again. It's far more healthy to feel the negativity occasionally as opposed to bottling it all up until you burst. Feel it, and move forward; you will only become stronger and more resilient for doing so.
Death Bed Goals
Recently, I was given some advice to note down my 'death bed goals'. It's easier to picture your life as a whole rather than try to envisage your five or ten-year plan. With that goal in mind, you can work backwards and create smaller, daily targets, which inevitably help you to achieve your 'death bed goal.' Think to yourself 'if I die tonight, is that okay?'. Meaning, have you done something you're proud of today, something which would ultimately help you achieve your end goal? If so, great! And, if not, now is your chance to change that. Set your goals, and work towards them. The only thing in your way is yourself.
Again, this isn't all going to solve your problems in the blink of an eye. But it will help you build yourself up to be ready for this next chapter in your life. If you're reading this as a recent graduate, I'm sorry COVID ripped away our final moments at university. I'm also sorry that times are even more challenging for us than usual.
And, if you're reading this as an employer, give new graduates a shot. They will most certainly surpass your expectations. They may not have as much experience as another applicant. But, because of the pandemic, we are fuelled with resilience, determination and a willingness to learn. Not just anybody can push through a pandemic and complete a degree with hardly any guidance. Not just anybody can graduate from their kitchen and maintain their strength. Not just anybody is a 2020 graduate.
- Mental Health Foundation. 1. Talk about your feelings [Internet]. Mental Health Foundation. 2015.
- Gov.uk. Kickstart Scheme [Internet]. GOV.UK. [cited 2020 Oct 5].
- Top Universities. How Graduates Can Get Hired During the Coronavirus Pandemic [Internet]. Top Universities. 2020.