Don’t put too much pressure on yourself during an already stressful time
The world is still getting to grips with coronavirus, social distancing and what this means for all of us. As a student or recent graduate, you may well be asking where it leaves your degree and your job hunt – as well as wondering how to fill your time over the next few weeks. Take a look at our articles on job hunting during the coronavirus pandemic, and internships, work experience and the coronavirus.
In the meantime, we can suggest some career-friendly activities to get on with from your bedroom/sofa/office/garden. Once things are back to normal, you’ll have some great things to add to your CV, talk about at interviews or just brag about to your friends and family (besides becoming an overnight TikTok sensation and re-watching every season of Friends).
1. Work on your online presence
Join LinkedIn (if you haven’t already). Connect with your coursemates, follow organisations you’re interested in and give your profile some TLC. Some employers also have careers-focused Instagram and Twitter accounts for you to follow. Keep work and play separate, though, whether that’s having two different accounts or tweaking your privacy settings.
2. Maintain or pick up a hobby
You may already have a hobby that you can keep up while at home. If you don’t, or your usual hobby isn’t compatible with a restricted space, consider picking up a new one. This could be anything from learning to play an instrument or teaching yourself to code, to sketching your own comic book or flexing your green fingers in the garden. Stuck for ideas? Ask your friends and family for suggestions or read our advice on good hobbies and interests for graduate CVs.
3. Go viral
Set up a blog, YouTube channel or Instagram account devoted to your hobby. Are you a budding bookstagrammer? Or perhaps you fancy yourself as the next Joe Wicks, providing your followers with home workouts? Fashion, photography, art, recipes, dance, poetry, stand-up comedy, magic tricks… you name it, you can showcase it online. Recruiters will appreciate your passion and you never know who might stumble across your work, or what opportunities it could lead to.
4. Learn a language
Language skills can set you apart from other graduates and you can develop yours without travelling. Whether you choose to build on the vocabulary you picked up at GCSE or go back to basics with a completely new language, there are lots of free online tools and apps available, such as Duolingo or Memrise – find out about these and more in our article on learning a language in lockdown and beyond. When you are next able to travel, you’ll be able to test out your new language skills.
5. Read up on a new topic
It’s never a bad idea to expand your general knowledge. Now could be the perfect time to read up on a topic you’ve always wanted to know more about, whether that’s cryptocurrency, British prime ministers, climate change, artificial intelligence or endangered species. If the topic that’s piqued your curiosity is related to the career you’re hoping to go into, all the better for interview discussions.
6. Take an online course
If you’d prefer a more structured approach to learning something new, look for online tutorials (for example, on how to use Adobe Photoshop) or free, short online courses through the likes of Coursera, FutureLearn and OpenLearn.
They usually have no entry requirements and don’t require prior knowledge so you can explore any topic that sparks your curiosity in subjects such as business, computer science, law, health, psychology, media and history. Add any courses you complete to the ‘Education’ section of your CV – it will show that you’ve been using your time at home constructively.
7. Bring your CV up to date
If it’s been a little while since you last looked at your CV, spend an afternoon or so adding in anything you’ve done between then and now. We recommend having an up-to-date ‘master CV’ that contains absolutely all of your experience and achievements. You can then pick and choose what makes the cut for different internship and job applications when the time comes.
8. Become a virtual volunteer
Volunteering is good for your CV, but, first and foremost, you can feel good about making a difference and helping others. If you aren’t currently able to volunteer in person, not all volunteering involves leaving your house.
The NHS wants check-in and chat volunteers and Omega is looking for 'chatterbox' volunteers to provide telephone support to individuals who are at risk of loneliness, often as a consequence of coronavirus self-isolation. Age UK, Amnesty International, Be My Eyes, Missing Maps, The Granny Cloud, The Prince’s Trust and Zooniverse look for online volunteers all-year-round and you can search for ‘Do-it from home’ opportunities at Do-it.org.
9. Research careers and employers
No time like the present to reflect on what you want to do when you graduate. Most of us aren’t set on one career. We cover 25 different career sectors so take some time to read about the ones that interest you. Then you can start looking into individual employers in these areas and exactly what opportunities they offer to students and graduates. Our article on job hunting during the pandemic should be useful if you need more advice.
10. Keep an eye out for job postings
Understandably, there is uncertainty around how employers will recruit new staff over the next few months. However, you can still apply to the vacancies advertised on targetjobs.co.uk. Just be patient if the application process takes longer than expected. Recruiters will need some time to adjust to working from home, adapt the recruitment process where necessary and decide on next steps.
11. Swot up on the recruitment process
While you’re waiting to hear back on your job applications, lay the groundwork for the next stages. Practise numerical, verbal and inductive reasoning tests for free with our Graduate Benchmark tool. Then read our advice on answering over 20 of the trickiest interview questions, from ‘If you were a superhero, what would your superpower be?’ to ‘What are your career goals?’.
12. Put together a reading list
Make a list of all the books you want to read, whether they are fiction or non-fiction, classics or new releases. If you want a more obvious careers angle, you could look for books such as Business Adventures by John Brooks – described by Bill Gates as the best business book he’s ever read. Or perhaps you can make a dent in the recommended reading list for your degree.
13. Set up a virtual club
University societies are on pause for now, so why not start your own? Round up your friends, find a common interest and start an online club together, whether it’s a book club, a debate team, a space for wannabe movie critics or a weekly quiz. This isn’t just a different way to keep in touch with your friends. Founding and running a club will help you develop the soft skills that employers look for.
14. Switch off and relax
One more thing: we don’t recommend trying to squeeze in everything on this list. Pick a few and don’t put too much pressure on yourself during an already stressful time. You don’t need to be proactive about your career every day. Balance it with other activities, such as:
- doing yoga or a home workout
- video calling your friends and family
- touring museums virtually (although many have opened their doors to customers, some museums are still offering this, including the British Museum in London and the Vatican Museums in Rome)
- playing board and video games
- experimenting with new recipes (who said students can only cook avocado on toast?)
- listening to podcasts and live gigs
- having a clear out (there’s a reason they call it spring cleaning after all)
- taking an afternoon nap with your dog.