“I was one of the lucky ones”
Daniel Bloch, 23, Spain
Daniel Bloch, 23, had always wanted to go to university abroad. He chose Madrid’s IE University because of its dual degree in business administration and international relations as well as the opportunity to learn Spanish. But instead of celebrating the end of his five-year course with classmates, he ended up returning to his native Australia with just 12 hours’ notice ahead of an impending lockdown in March. “It was a rather unceremonious end to what was a very special five-year period of my life,” he says.
One month earlier, he had been offered and had accepted, his dream graduate placement with Airbus, specialising in project management. It was due to start in September 2020 in Bristol, UK, but by May Airbus had delayed the programme by 12 months. “I was one of the lucky ones, not having had my contract cancelled altogether,” Bloch says.
Many of his friends were not so lucky and have been laid off or have had graduate schemes cancelled. “A lot of friends are now considering postgraduate studies when they otherwise may not have because they can’t find work,” he says. “They are then worrying that the additional large investment will go unrewarded by a jobs market that will likely remain somewhat distorted for the foreseeable future.”
Bloch is keen to start his graduate job but knows that given the current state of the aviation industry he has to consider the possibility it might get cancelled altogether. Worrying about that makes him feel “anxious and frustrated”, but he knows it is out of his hands.
In the meantime, Bloch has bypassed temporary work and started his own aviation consultancy business. He began by doing pro-bono work and has so far had clients including airlines, airports and non-specialised consultants. “If the pandemic has taught me anything, it is the value in developing a profile and skill set base that is adaptable, flexible and ready to pivot at a moment’s notice,” he says.
“Am I angry? Yes”
Christiana Bella, 21, Nigeria
Christiana Bella studied banking and finance at the Federal University of Agriculture in Abeokuta, but had always dreamt of working in the media. She graduated in February 2020 and was due to receive her results in April, but a university strike followed by the coronavirus lockdown means she still has not received her grade, putting her entire future on hold. “I now feel stuck and frustrated,” she says.
She was also due to complete a stint in the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), a programme in Nigeria to involve graduates in nation-building and development, but that too has been postponed. “The school won’t release the results. I can’t do NYSC or even apply for jobs,” she says. “I tried applying for graduate internships but unfortunately I’m not even a graduate yet because I don’t have a certificate and I’m not even sure what I graduated with.”
Bella is currently looking for internships or graduate schemes while living at home with her parents but has so far had no luck. “Am I angry? Yes. Is there anything I can do to change that? I don’t think so,” she says.
Despite the setbacks, Bella says she and her friends remain hopeful things will get better, and Covid might even change Nigeria’s tough job market by opening new types of opportunities. “I think Covid has shown a lot of managers and workers that they don’t necessarily have to be in the office to work, so most offices might stay that way,” she says.
What the experts say
Despite the gloomy outlook, there are things graduates can do to help themselves, recruiter Jenkins says. First, adjust your mindset. “Job hunting is going to be a slog… You are going to be rejected but it isn’t personal. You are good enough. Don’t let your internal monologue take over and crush your spirit,” she says. Resilience is key in a tough job market.
Next, get organised. Make sure you have an updated LinkedIn page with a green profile badge that says “open to work” and a good headline title. Make sure your CV is in tip-top condition. “There is no excuse for a bad CV or a single typo,” she says.
It’s also important to spend time building skills as well as job hunting. “Don’t spend 100% of your time job hunting or you will go insane very quickly. Aim to spend 50% of the time on job hunting and 50% on skills building – not only will it make you stay positive, but it also makes you more attractive to employers,” she says.
Another way to be proactive is to make lists of companies you’d like to work for, scour their social media and websites for any jobs and set up Google alerts. Find people who have the job type you would like and ask for a virtual coffee. “Don’t bombard people for the sake of it, take a considered approach and people are usually happy to help out younger folk,” she says.
Source: BBC WORKLIFE