Advice for the class of 2020 – 3 things you can do if you haven’t got a job

This blog post is to motivate and inspire the class of 2020 during this difficult time. Do share with any graduates or early-stage career professionals you know!

I feel for you!

It is not easy to be graduating amid a global pandemic. Whilst many of us remember graduating as a period of celebration and relief, you probably will not. Some of the best bits of university such as friendships, relationships, graduation, societies, volunteering, sports and socials cannot be replicated virtually.

The world is changing. We are in lockdown and your usual summer jobs waitressing or interning are likely no longer available.

The words of Seamus Heaney may comfort you ‘If we winter this one out, we can summer anywhere’. So I am writing this post alongside some kind contributors to remind you to have hope and stay positive!

Advice for the class of 2020 – Photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash

Here are 3 things you can do if you haven’t got a job at this time:

Final year is always tough! You probably had to step back from other university interests to focus on graduating well. Now you have the time to use the summer ahead to explore your hobbies again. How exciting! You will never just be defined by your grades or your job so keep these up.

I would also suggest reflecting on your learnings from university and documenting them in some way! Perhaps journaling, blogging or writing a letter to your past self.

Aligned to all of this is taking care of yourself, remember that you have spent 3 or 4 years working really hard and although you can’t jump on a plane to go on holiday, do find other ways to celebrate.

Here is some advice from Shenaid Tapper, a Project manager and
University of Birmingham Planning & Economics graduate.

‘Your mental health is as ever important during this time so try not to be too hard on yourself. You don’t need to be productive and busy all the time. Take each day as it comes and remember to celebrate those little wins. Try creating small to-do lists; read the book that has been on your list for months; re-organise your room; find some hidden gems in your area. We rarely get a chance to pause and take stock, so use this time to find out what helps you unwind.

If, like me, you enjoy being busy and you’re struggling with the lack of structure to your day, try volunteering. It’s a great way to bridge the gap between education and employment, whilst also picking up new skills. Many charitable organisations are seeking support right now so reach out to causes that interest you to find out how you can help them. Often, this can be done from the comfort of your own home with as many (or as little) hours as you like.

It is the perfect time to upskill yourself in whatever you want! Many organisations are offering free online content, conferences, networking sessions and more. Attend the sessions that interest you most, make connections and line up potential opportunities. At some point, the world will restart, and this will help you to be ready.’

Take any experience you can get

We are likely going to enter a deep recession globally. According to a recent report from Resolution Foundation, the employment rate of today’s graduates is projected to be 13% lower, three years after having left full-time education than they would have been absent the crisis. This could even be understated as it is still early days.

If you do get an opportunity, I would suggest taking it. Remember that your first job doesn’t have to and likely won’t define your career. Your 20’s should be for trial and error, trying and learning more about yourself and building your knowledge and experiences.

Asia La Chapelle Williams is now a Climate Change Specialist after studying a MSc in Spatial Planning at UCL and Geography degree at LSE.

‘When I graduated, I moved to Taiwan and taught English in an American International school. I used that time to travel around and apply for Master’s fellowship programmes. It was a really great experience to live and work in a different country. I was also able to study Chinese and work and I was able to meet lots of different people and make really good international connections.’

Christina Webley is a Psychology graduate now works as a researcher for the Civil Service.

Check out Christina’s experience not following a traditional graduate scheme but working in jobs she loves.

‘I thought about what I enjoyed doing, what I was able to do well, and where I wanted to be in 5 years’ time.

This led me to work as a mentor for NSC: The Challenge — a summer programme aimed at youth development. This remains the most fun-filled role I’ve ever had. It may not have been conventional or directly related to my field of study, but it’s the job that made me employable to larger organisations and across all kinds of sectors. I then went on to work for the NHS, ensuring that the voices of children and young people were heard and considered at an executive level. This then led me to work for the government, conducting research to inform public policy.

As a graduate, you’re in a unique position. With a fresh perspective, you’re able to bring new, innovative ideas which are of great value to the strategy of any employer. However, it’s not always easy to secure your dream job straight away, or even to work within the field that you’ve studied for. What worked for me was to do what I truly enjoyed, and to focus on developing my strengths. By doing that I gained a wealth of experience and transferable skills, which then allowed me to pursue the career I had dreamed of when I was a recent graduate.

Build a portfolio

You don’t need a job to start a career.

Now more than ever before, you can showcase your skills. If you want to be a writer, just write and self-publish. If you want to be a TV presenter, start recording and post on your Youtube channel. You don’t need a job to learn in today’s world.

Some advice from Sakky Baral who built a portfolio to become a UX Designer.

‘I think the most important thing for me was just consuming a lot of content. Whether it was Instagram posts, Medium articles, YouTube tutorials, learn as much as possible from as many places, especially on the fundamentals and things that a beginner should know about.

From there start applying your knowledge, rather than just being theoretical, you want to start practising and honing your craft, so for me, that was getting onto Figma or taking on a mini project and applying the Design Thinking process.’

Additionally, Mel Tranfield who is a Digital Degree Apprentice at IG and is building her portfolio as a developer shared the same sentiment.

‘I have built, and am building my portfolio as a developer through working on projects that relate directly to my areas of interest. For example, I am interested in blockchain, and use my Python skills to write simple scripts that would contribute to GitHub code repositories for blockchain projects.

During lockdown, take advantage of virtual hackathons that allow you to meet a team and perhaps start building a product together, both back-end and front-end, to exercise your skills. Also, look for roles, volunteering and internship opportunities with fully remote companies, and stay active on Twitter — you’ll gain support from the dev community and discover roles there.’

Stay safe and well and remember that success is defined for yourself. Success is also a journey not a destination and you can start that journey now!

Good luck!


Amazing Rona Report series from United Borders covering interesting and motivational content for young people in London and covering how young people are coping during the pandemic.

Online course from Coventry University supporting you to manage your mental health at home during the coronavirus outbreak.

This website created by Ümran Avni brings together loads of resources for helping and supporting each other during the pandemic. The Actions page, in particular, is relevant for volunteering opportunities that you can include on your CV.

Blog covering all things personal development and careers from a 20-something millennial making her way in the Management Consulting industry

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