For recent college graduates, to quote Charles Dickens, it is ‘the best of times and the worst of times.’
It’s the worst of times because the pandemic that has now been raging for nearly half a year has slowed down, and in some cases even stopped, the economy in North America, and all around the world. Flourishing businesses and organizations, government agencies and financial institutions, are reeling from the coronavirus and in most cases have had to lay off or furlough a third or more of their staff. The staff that remains works from home when they can, and when they can’t they have to take their lives in their hands by working in an enclosed area, where the spread of the virus is more certain than ever. These are not good things for the recent college graduate looking to make his or her mark in the world of business, finance, education, science, law, or any other career path outside of morgue attendant.
The common misconception, and it IS a misconception, is that nobody is hiring anymore, and won’t be for a long time -- so why bother to look for a good job until the pandemic is over?
That kind of negative thinking will net college grads nothing but a room in their parent’s basement and a sour attitude towards a career that could impede them for the rest of their lives.
If we look to recent history we find one overriding theme to success and satisfaction during times of economic hardship. A positive and proactive mental attitude. For example, during the Great Depression, which lasted roughly from 1929 to 1939, millions of Americans were thrown out of work. Not only that, but thousands of banks across the country closed their doors and never opened again -- taking the hard earned savings of tens of thousands of people with them. Drought turned a vast section of the Midwest and the West into useless and sterile dust -- farmers and ranchers were starved out. America was hungry, jobless, and broke.
Many gave up. But many others did not. An unemployed real estate broker, sitting at home wondering how to make a living, invented the game of Monopoly. He sold it to a major toy company for a tidy sum and rode out the rest of the Great Depression in comfort. Radio sales boomed -- free entertainment at home seemed like a good idea to millions of Americans who couldn’t afford the quarter it took to go see a movie or a vaudeville show. During the 1920’s radio was seen as something the military needed, but the general public did not. But those with vision and confidence knew right from the beginning of the Great Depression that here was a medium custom-built for the entire population -- and those that dived in and worked hard were well-rewarded.
Today’s pandemic environment is not that different from the Great Depression. And the lessons learned during that crisis will help college grads weather the storm and prosper today. Learning to talk to C-level executives can make a huge difference. In order to do so effectively, according to a recent blog entitled, “The Trick To Reaching Even The Busiest C-Level Decision Makers”, it’s critical that you learn about the individual, and then craft a well-thought introductory email offering both value and intrigue. It should have a subject line that makes the reader want to open it and pay careful attention to the email. Make it unique. Offer a visual, surprise the reader, and add a visual companion to it. Finally, create a link to your documents. That way, people who are unwilling to open attachments from those they don’t know will still see what you’ve sent over. And this is just the beginning. Once you get the meeting, it’s time to prepare on a whole new level. For that, let’s look at some of the specifics that can bring success.
A positive mental attitude means flexibility, and willingness to take chances.
This is the best of times for recent grads who don’t fixate on their major in college and instead use their educational credentials to explore the wide opportunities that have come into play in the past six months. Medical supply companies literally can’t keep up with orders for face masks, ventilators, and various other medical equipment. They are begging for sales people, customer service reps, and IT specialists to keep their inventory tracked and dispatched. Are you flexible enough to start with any of those positions? You don’t necessarily have to keep them forever, but once you have a full-time job it’s much easier to move into your dream job down the road than if you stay at home and mope.
Online sales are also booming as never before. There’s room for many entrepreneurs online, if you can manage to conquer any risk aversion you may have.
Once you have a steady job, spend your spare time volunteering in the field you love and want to eventually work in for good.
Okay, you’ve got that English MA, with an emphasis on Shakespeare, but the only work you find is in customer service. Don’t sweat it. Look for opportunities to volunteer, teach as schools, at libraries, in prisons, and teach Shakespeare to your heart’s content. The day will come when the position you are looking for will open up, and you’ll not only have a good work record to display, but actual authentic teaching experience as well. HR always loves those who can document a lively volunteer history.
And finally, make an effort to surround yourself with peers who display a positive mental energy. Cynics may be more witty, but a sincere belief in the future and that things will get better will carry you farther along your career path than a sneer or snarky remark.