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Navigating Job Market as a College Student During COVID-19

Navigating Job Market as a College Student During COVID-19
Susan Dutca-Lovell

While about 70 percent of students have a job while attending college, about a third of them lost their jobs in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Especially for lower-income or financially-independent students, the coronavirus has "exacerbated the need" for jobs that have disappeared to COVID-related campus closures. Despite this, many students have unleashed their creative and entrepreneurial talents and are hustling to pay their bills in new and different ways. From reading fortunes to creating masks and selling homemade ramen, college students are using their ingenuity to replace traditional means of income to pay their way through college. If you are a working college student whose job has been affected by the coronavirus, here are tips for navigating an unpredictable job market during COVID-19:

1. Network

As the saying goes, it's not always what you know, but who you know when it comes to landing a job, and studies have shown that some of the most successful people rely heavily on the power of networking. It is just as important to network with industry leads and professionals as it is with those who lie outside of your field of study/area of interest - it can open up new, never-before-seen opportunities and partnerships which could ultimately increase your value and net worth. If you are more of the introverted type, you can dip your toes into the networking world by practicing conversations with friends or family member, making phone calls, having virtual meetings, or attending college-hosted networking events, if possible. If you are more extroverted, now is your time to shine. Try to be as sincere and genuinely interested as possible when it comes to listening to others' ideas and experiences and find common ground between you and them and how you can develop a mutually-beneficial relationship. Remember: not all networking will lead to a job, but the experience in doing so is beneficial in and of itself for future opportunities.

2. Adapt to New Opportunities

You may have had post-college plans, or you may have not even thought so far yet. Either way, now is a good time to practice adaptability and flexibility when it comes to the job market, especially in the midst of the coronavirus. If you have been dead-set in becoming a doctor or lawyer since you were five, keep at it. However, it's worth considering how your current experiential and educational knowledge can be applied towards new opportunities, including ones that you may have considered a pipe dream or put on the sideline. Just as many jobs have disappeared due to COVID-19, the pandemic has made room for new markets – perhaps even one that calls upon a hidden talent of yours. All you need a bit of research, flexibility and to have faith in yourself!

3. Develop Your Skillset

Refining your current skills is only the half of it. In becoming a well-rounded and standout student and prospective employee, you should open yourself up to opportunities that can help you acquire new skills. Take a new class, pick up books on a new topic and try something different. Use this time to discover your talents, weaknesses and employ critical thinking and problem solving to conquering new competencies. Besides, who doesn't love adding new abilities to their resumes and professional profiles?

4. Market Yourself for Today's Market

You need a job - but are you ready for the application and interview process, especially in today's current job market? Experts predict that most jobs will remain remote through the rest of the year and into the next, so you'd better be able to prove that you're a capable remote worker through your experience, use of technology, and work ethic. Similarly, most job interviews have and will continue to be conducted virtually, so if you struggle with technology, now is the time to work out those skills. Update your resume and cover letter and clean up your professional profile and portfolio. If you're seeking in-person employment opportunities, ensure that you are able to fulfill all job duties in today’s climate, including adhering to COVID-19 protocols.

5. Volunteer

Volunteering, though unpaid labor, could eventually result in an internship or job. It also gives you occasion to network with professionals in a given field and provides value on your resume. Whether you decide to volunteer somewhere that closely aligns with your field of study or at a place that peaks your interest, you will always walk away with experience and the knowledge that you are making a difference.

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