Surviving the Covid-19 Pandemic and its Aftershocks
The global COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the world in ways never seen before in recent history. Entire industries and businesses have ground to a halt, countries have shut their borders, and remote working has now become the new norm. As a graduate jobseeker, this may all seem incredibly overwhelming – especially when the prospect of finding your first job is already pretty nerve-wracking in and of itself!
Here at gradmalaysia, we unfortunately can’t tell you when the virus will finally be contained and life will go back to normal. But we can offer a few tips to help you ride out what might be coming ahead. Read on to find out what you can do.
Be flexible with your long-term plans
Whether you’ve already graduated or are set to graduate in the midst of this pandemic, remember: Keep holding on to your long-term plans to find a job, but remain flexible at the same time. No one knows how this pandemic or the upcoming recession that will accompany it is going to play out, so be prepared to make short-term adjustments if necessary.
For example, even as you keep an eye peeled for a company and job that appeals to you, you can still look out for internships, short term contracts, or consider going freelance. These may not seem like stable employment prospects but think of them as short-term stopgaps until a longer-term opportunity avails itself. Plus, they are a great way to ensure you continue building and exercising employable skills.
But also remember, even in the midst of a recession, there are still organisations hiring. Every recession brings with it winners and losers. Tech and logistics companies, for example, are doing great during this current crisis. You just have to keep your ear to the ground and learn how to find who's still hiring.
Manage your finances and save up
It may take longer than usual to find a steady-paying graduate job this year, so you'll want to watch your personal finances! Begin by cutting off whatever expenses you don’t need. Look through your expenses to find hidden ones you can do away with or start finding creative ways to encourage yourself to save.
You can also turn to a number of free apps to help you plan your finances out. Some suggestions include:
- Pocket Expense. This app allows you to link your various bank accounts for free and lowers the hassle of tracking your expenses manually and individually
- Household Account Book, on the other hand, makes tracking your expenses engaging with cute interfaces and easily-accessed features
- Spendee is similar to Pocket Expense, though you can only link one bank account and credit card to the app.
As a rule, try to plan for blocks of 3 months at any one point in time. Forecast your essential expenses for the next three months to the best of your abilities, and do your best to ensure you have enough savings on hand to cover those.
Make use of online events and classes
Our bodies may be stuck at home, but that doesn't mean our minds have to be! Make use of webinars and virtual events, or take online classes and certifications to upskill yourself.
Employers are still holding webinars and attending virtual events to engage with students and graduates during this time. These are fantastic ways to grow your professional network and stay in touch with what's going in the industries of your choice – all from the comfort of your own couch. Subscribe to your dream employers' graduate mailing lists or social media feeds so that you'll be alerted of any online events they'll be having, or check in with your university careers services center to see if they know of any upcoming ones.
Likewise, online classes are a great opportunity to build new employable skills in preparation for your future job prospects. The Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) is offering 3,800 free online courses to help Malaysians upskill online during this tough period, so why not make use of those? The more skills you pick up to round out your skill-set, the better equipped you'll be to land that dream job and succeed at it once the opportunities come your way.
Take care of yourself
Last but not least, remember to take care of yourself. With looming graduation dates, a recession, and everything else in between clogging up our to-do lists and newsfeeds, it can really be a lot to handle all at once.
Look out for signs that you are developing anxiety. These include:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Feeling helpless
- Having trouble just managing what is presently on your plate because worries about your future keep distracting you.
Remember that anxiety is a normal response to the uncertainties that we are all facing during this time. Everyone is in the same boat, after all. The key is not to let it overwhelm you by overthinking what may lie ahead, but to focus on what you can do each day – one step at a time. Focus your energy on what you can accomplish today and now, and let tomorrow's worries be for tomorrow. Rinse and repeat from there.
Still, if the anxiety feels too much for you to handle alone, there is nothing wrong with seeking external advice. Talk to your university counselor, your career services coach, or any therapist or help hotline of your choice. A fresh perspective may be just what you need to keep yourself on track mentally and emotionally.
At the same time, try taking up new hobbies or make time each day to do the things you enjoy, like playing online games with friends. You are more than just your job search, after all. When all is said and done, this pandemic and its turmoil will pass. But you will remain – stronger, more resilient, and better-equipped than ever for your dream career.