None of us pictured graduating in a pandemic, trying to navigate through an online world, or starting a career from home. As recent graduates, we felt discouraged and lost after a dramatic—yet painfully anti-climactic—ending to a critical season of our lives.
One day in a make-shift bedroom office, we signed off an online exam, closed our computers, and voilà—we graduated.
We wondered: How do you embrace an unknown season when past seasons are snatched abruptly from your grasp? How do you launch into new, exciting chapters of your life when the past chapter feels unfinished, forced to end mid-sentence?
We started a career in the land of Zoom and faced unique challenges. How do you “read the room” online? How do you get a full picture of an organizational culture when your days are sliced into one-hour meetings?
The greatest lesson we have all learned is that when life does not go according to plan, the challenges can bring unique opportunities to grow if you approach them with a posture of curiosity.
From a faith perspective, this meant that we looked at trials as an opportunity for growth, had the posture of doing all things for Christ, and found comfort in God’s sovereignty.
As three 2020 graduates who have spent the past eight months together as part of a post-graduate internship (Trinity Western University’s Trinity Fellowship program), we hope the lessons we learned can be helpful to others who also are navigating this strange time of transition.
Starting Your Career During a Pandemic
It certainly feels strange to finish and start life events during a pandemic because almost everything happens in your room, in front of your computer screen. It is very easy to feel as if you are in the same stage of life when in reality you have moved onto the next step. We believe it is crucial to make this mental transition as soon as possible to thoroughly engage in your new career and perform at your best. Here are some tips we found helpful in making the mental transition:
- Choose your front row. Take the time to decide which people you want to build into your life and continue to build memories with, because these people can change the trajectory of your life.
- Be strategically curious. Rather than focusing only on projects that are assigned to you, look for opportunities to make a difference based on the “fresh eyes” you bring to an organization. Following your curiosity in this way is a strategy that can bring surprising benefits to your organization.
- Reach out. Look at the skills you have to offer and reach out to companies or organizations that you are passionate about to offer your help and support. Not only does this build your network and your skills, but it causes you to step outside your comfort zone.
- Study the culture. Pay close attention in meetings to observe how everyone interacts with one another, see how decisions are made, and discover unique social norms that your new workplace has. This will help you not only to have a better understanding of the organization, but to communicate more effectively with your colleagues.
- Actively listen. There can be tremendous power in actively listening, intentionally reflecting, and respectfully contributing your perspectives at the opportune time.
- Establish relationships. Text, call, or email your colleagues or peers to intentionally show that you are interested in getting to know them and that you care for them. This will help you to quickly obtain that sense of belonging, and it can become a valuable network.
Even in this time of limbo and change we learned that there is value in listening attentively, understanding the context, and contributing at the right moment. Together, we learned that resiliency and hope can grow in the unlikely environments of uncertainty and transition.