In a time where we are limited in what we can do and where we can go, it’s easy to find our minds drifting to a place where we feel we cannot achieve what we set out to this year. However, despite the unsettling climate of the world right now, we are all in this together and there are an abundance of opportunities to make the most of. I wanted to share with you 3 of my top tips for making the most of your time in lockdown and to reassure you that you are not at a disadvantage when it comes to applying for graduate roles as you prepare for application windows to open.
1. Find a mentor
Building connections with people who inspire you or who have experience in the industry you’re interested in is invaluable. Whether it’s having conversations about how they got to where they are in their career today, or whether it’s getting insight into an industry or practice area to enhance your knowledge, this is a fantastic way to learn and demonstrate your commitment to learning and developing yourself to a future employer. Talk to your Lecturers, take to LinkedIn, talk to your careers services, attend virtual networking events and don’t be afraid to ask someone if they can help you. At A&O more specifically, Justin Farrance an A&O trainee, has recently set up the GROW MENTORING platform as he identified the need to provide more mentoring opportunities during these times.
2. Volunteering and work experience
When I speak to students on campus, a common theme is that students undersell their work experience. Of course there is great value in internships, programmes and work experience opportunities offered by graduate employers, however there is also great value in other activities if you find you’re unable to undergo an internship. Throughout university term time, I worked in my university bar at the same time as working towards my studies. In the holidays, I would go home and continue with my part-time job in a local restaurant because I needed to prioritise having a reliable income. I never managed to secure an internship, but what I did gain is a huge amount of confidence in my abilities to communicate with customers, demonstrate my time management skills through balancing a full-time degree and part time work and I could evidence my strong work ethic.
During lockdown, there are many ways we can demonstrate our work ethic and commitment to supporting the many industries that need our help. One way which I have been helping during lockdown, is to sign up as an NHS Responder Volunteer. Checking in with local vulnerable people in my area over the phone to make sure they are coping at this time. Alongside signing up to employer webinars and workshops, my key message is to not forget there are fantastic opportunities to still volunteer, help the community and at the same time demonstrate your working ethic to future employers.
3. Virtual programmes and careers events
It’s never been easier to fit in so many opportunities to upskill yourself when you can do so from the comfort of your own home. Over the next few months, employers will be releasing their virtual event schedules and will be participating in sessions and events that will be advertised by your Careers Service. Without the need to travel, this means you will have a wealth of opportunity available to you and a better chance than ever to attend more sessions. In times where you have had to limit the number of sessions you attend to one industry, why not use this opportunity to gain a wider breadth of knowledge e.g. attending a banking seminar in addition to a legal seminar. My advice would be to focus on “quality not quantity” and really be sure of what you want to get out of these sessions to keep your focus and avoid feeling overwhelmed by what will be an influx of virtual offerings.