Career Prospects during Lockdown – How to improve them!
With many internships being cancelled or postponed, it may seem like there are limited chances to gain experience. However, there are many ways to put your free time to good use to improve career prospects.
Firstly, it is important to remember that this is a stressful period for everyone. Whilst it is tempting to prioritise productivity, that should not be the case – remember to dedicate time towards relaxing too.
When feeling productive, here are 6 ways you can boost your career prospects without a job.
1. Get ahead with applications
Most internships and graduate schemes open their job positions from September onwards. It can become difficult to balance applications alongside university as many jobs have several stages in their application process to complete.
You can brush up on your CV, research what the application process is for companies and prepare your cover letter for each role.
Preparing early will allow you to apply immediately once applications open, increasing your chances of securing a role early.
Keep an eye on this blog for tips for creating the perfect application to improve your career prospects.
2. Begin volunteering
Volunteering can help you gain valuable experience especially with developing interpersonal skills.
Charities are constantly looking for new people to help, for example, Age UK and Mind are looking for virtual volunteers. If you can physically volunteer, homeless shelters and libraries can be other places to volunteer too.
Volunteering looks impressive on your CV and can provide you with excellent examples to use during an interview. Meanwhile, you’re giving back to your community.
If you can not find a charity that you would like to work with, then make your own community project!
The Selly Oak Community Response to COVID-19 was set up by the University of Birmingham students to help people in need within their community. This resulted with the group being featured on BBC West Midlands. This is a great example of young people using their skills to help others, whilst gaining experience.
3. Gain work experience
Whilst internships have been postponed, you can still gain work experience as a volunteer. There may be small organisations who are understaffed or don’t have the funds to pay an intern, however, they may be happy to allow you to work shadow their team or gain some experience.
Whilst this can seem pointless without any pay, it can help in the long term. The company may ask you to join on as a full-time employee or the skills you learn can boost your CV, impressing other companies.
For example, you may receive training with software that is heavily used in your industry that you would not have been exposed to at university. This provides you with an advantage over other students.
Currently, I am volunteering for Climate Science, a charity who creates online resources to educate people regarding climate change. This role alone has boosted my technical skills – I even learnt a new programming language which I can add to my CV!
To get involved with start-ups, browse through LinkedIn and drop them a message. Additionally, make use of your network – make a post on LinkedIn, speak to your university’s career advisor or ask your friends.
If you find an opportunity, make sure to read my blog about how to ace a virtual internship.
4. Work on a personal project
Not all experience gained has to be through a company – create your own personal project! This is an excellent chance to get back into a hobby and explore your creative side.
Personal projects can make you stand out from other candidates when applying for jobs, improving career prospects. It allows you to pick and choose what to work on at your own pace.
A personal project could be anything such as creating a podcast, writing a blog or developing an app.
The Contrarian is a podcast discussing culture, politics and society which was co-founded by 2 students – Rohan Shivalkar and Tofique Hayat. Podcasting develops your knowledge on a wide range of topics and improves your critical thinking.
Sarina Shah is a Modern Languages with Business Management student. She created an Instagram blog called @Sarinaexplores about her travelling experiences. Blogging has helped Sarina develop her social media presence, landing her a Marketing internship.
A Computer Science student, Emre Hakansoy took this opportunity to create his own smart home system. This further developed his technical and DIY skills whilst adding a cool feature to his home.
All 3 personal projects show the range of skills that can be developed whilst having fun. Hopefully, these ideas may help to inspire your own creative side – the options are limitless!
5. Start freelancing
Freelancing enables you to develop your skills on a flexible basis whilst earning some extra money. Additionally, it may result in starting a successful business!
Riya Amin (@thenextthread) grew up with an interest for fashion and sewing. Whilst studying at university, she could not find the designs she wanted so she began to customise her own clothes. After receiving recognition for her designs, she launched The Next Thread, an online-based hand embroidery brand. Launching her business has taught Riya about the many parts to a business that people don’t tend to see such as developing her interpersonal and time management skills.
Aleena Mohammed and Kristy Vunzi are a duo from Essex university who have a passion for all things related to food. Inspired by other entrepreneurs, they turned their talent of baking into A&K Bakes, a cupcake store on Instagram.
Callum Atwal, a Computer Science graduate was freelancing by developing websites for clients alongside studying at university. Not only did this build upon his web-development skills, but he also learned how to network successfully and gain clients.
Whether it’s online tutoring or baking, freelancing develops crucial business skills such as dealing with clients, managing finances and branding.
By managing a business, you learn skills which are difficult to learn in the classroom, however, they are invaluable. Additionally, you earn money for a hobby you are passionate about!
6. Develop your skills through online courses
There are many online courses available to teach you any skill from learning a programming language to learning about how financial markets work.
There are courses available in a range of subjects and it does not have to be related to your career, any course taken demonstrates initiative.
Some skills may complement your future job role, for example, some financial roles are beginning to encourage their employees to learn Python. So, research your industry to find out what skills are most hot right now.
Learning a language can be beneficial for global businesses. If you aspire to live in a foreign country, it is important to learn the local language. This demonstrates to the company that you are serious about relocating and have more to offer.
Here are some resources to take a look at:
- LinkedIn Learning – a range of disciplines (free trial month)
- Udemy – a range of disciplines (mostly paid)
- Coursera – courses created by universities (mostly free & free for students until 30th September)
- Khan Academy – a range of disciplines (completely free)
- Code Academy – learn to code (some free courses)
- Duolingo – learn a different language (free)
Now you are aware of all the ways you can boost your career prospects, remember to add them to your LinkedIn and CV. Most of all, remember to have fun with whatever route you pick!
Comment below what you are planning on working on the next few months to improve your career prospects. Follow @sabeekablogs on Instagram to keep up to date on new weekly posts.