Student employment comes in many shapes and sizes, from graduate schemes to summer internships to part time work. The coronavirus crisis has impacted so many different areas, and it has seriously impacted bith the type and volume of student jobs that are available. Generally, students go for part-time jobs in retail or hospitality whilst they are studying. These are areas that have been severely impacted by Covid and it is unlikely that they will recover by the start of the next academic year. The class of 2020 will enter the most difficult jobs market since the financial crash with the economy facing a sharp contraction this year.
If it’s your part time job that has been affected or your graduate scheme or your summer internship, I’m genuinely really sorry. These have been a crazy few months. Approximately 80% of students surveyed are concerned about what the future holds. Student employment has certainly suffered, but there are a few things to consider.
Silver linings in student employment
Whilst this does seem concerning immediately, there are silver linings. Keep in mind that employers will know that everyone’s plans will have changed. You are not alone in the situation of not gaining the experience that you wanted. Do not let it reflect on you and affect everything. Diversify the range of companies and the roles that you are applying for. I know it does not help you personally but be reassured that you are not alone. It is now harder to gain student employment, but it just means you must adapt to the changing environment. I understand your anger and sadness that your student employment has not worked out. But remaining angry and upset will not help you.
When it comes to your grades this year, emphasise to your employer that you are a product of this unprecedented time. I personally had 2 exams and a piece of coursework cancelled. Whilst this was disappointing, it meant that my grade was affected in a way that I had never anticipated. On your CV, put down your specific grade so you can demonstrate your hard work. Emphasise your skills rather than your academia. For example if you have started a new job in lockdown, you can demonstrate your ability to adapt to the changing environment. More than ever, it is important to ensure that you have a digital presence. Get on LinkedIn, it can unlock hidden opportunities for you.
Broaden your horizons
There will be different roles in this new era, and it is up to graduates to examine these new roles and see how they can fit in to them. Whilst the institute of fiscal studies have found that it will be young workers who will be hit hardest in job-wise. There will be new vacancies constantly being added to your university careers site. Keep an eye on places like the NHS and the police. There are jobs available there that you may never have considered before.
It is hard for graduates of 2020. I personally know that many of them are considering going to do a master’s for a year. This was to either boost their employability or to delay their choices in entering employment. Whilst the first reason is very acceptable, and it is true that having a masters does help you look more employable. A masters only makes you more employable if there is a legitimate reason for doing it.You want to specialise in a certain teaching area. Choosing to do a masters because you do not know what else to do will only confuse you in a years’ time. There is no guarantee it will have the answers.
However, saying this, I get it. This has been a scary time and there is no shame in wanting to remain with something familiar. But if you were not planning on doing a masters this year and you have suddenly applied for one, try to consider why you are doing that. Ask yourself if it is worth the extra debt and time out of the jobs market.
Summer student employment
For students still studying, employment is something many of you do over the summer or even during university time yourself. Whilst the industries many of you may have been in have been hit hard by Covid, there are other ways in which you can still make money. There are still essential retailers such as supermarkets open. They are actively looking for staff in order to fulfil the higher demand that customers are after. Even if over summer you find the vacancies near you are full, check again in September, other people will be leaving then. Also, students can partake in online tutoring in almost any subject. This can be something you can continue during your studies too as it is flexible work. Farm work is a far more accessible job than people realise, particularly over summer. With the current crisis, a lot of farm workers have been unable to travel and therefore farmers are reliant on local work instead. Make sure you keep an eye out on more traditional employment methods such as requests in your local post office.
Covid has impacted us all in many different ways. I doubt that it is through yet. But whether you are a graduate, a student, or someone just beginning their search for academia, it is important to keep on adapting when it comes to employment. Stay hopeful and positive. Keep on applying for jobs you may never have considered before, it will lead you down paths you may absolutely love.