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Finding my feet during Covid-19

In December 2019 I graduated with a Masters in International Development from the University of Manchester.

I was proud of my achievement and grateful for my time there, but I was also worried about what the future held as I hadn’t secured a graduate scheme or job.

I spent time applying for different schemes and opportunities throughout university but never managed to secure anything.

After this I moved into my boyfriend's house in London and we both started working in retail whilst saving to go travelling in 2020. You can guess what happened here!

After only five months of working, the Covid-19 pandemic hit and I was furloughed. As it was my first real job, having focused on voluntary work at University, this felt like a blow. I watched my friends begin graduate schemes whilst I waited to be made redundant in September 2020.

However, I took this as an opportunity to move forward from the retail sector and focus on my career aspirations. I decided I wanted to pursue work in either the charity sector or government. I wanted to make a difference to my community and make a real impact with my work. I ardently committed to completing applications and started to get further into different rounds of interviews. However, days turned into months and at times when companies pulled back on recruitment, I really struggled to get much further.

Therefore, I decided to focus on upskilling and improving myself whilst continuing to apply for jobs. With both my voluntary roles closing down or pausing during the pandemic, I focused on

online courses and language skills. I began learning German on Duolingo whilst undertaking

free courses on the Humanitarian Leadership Academy. This allowed me to round out my

experience as well as giving me an outlet for the energy I had built up since being out of work earlier on in the year. Most of all, it helped me develop confidence as interviews can be quite a challenge for me.

By February 2021 I was losing hope. However, I did secure a voluntary researcher position. It

was here, at Start It Right! I was excited that I secured the role as I was finally able to

make a contribution to my local community whilst gaining useful work experience for my future.This opportunity not only allowed me to learn a lot, especially joining a fairly new

organisation focused on growth, but gave me the confidence to know I was good enough

and that I just had to keep pushing myself. By March 2021, I had one week with three interviews, and whilst I was nervous, the past few months had built a resilience in me to know that I could succeed. One of these interviews ended up being one of my dream jobs that I have just been offered.

The unemployment process is more than just a structural issue, it feeds into every part of

your life and can affect your self-worth and motivation. The uncertainty of the situation

leaves you constantly treading water hoping the next application will be the one, but never

sure where the end actually is. I was lucky to have a home and support network during my

application process, as downhearted I was at times, I always felt safe and secure. Not everyone is in such a privileged position and I am grateful for the fact I had this.

The thing to remember is there is always light at the end of the tunnel. I entered this situation knowing how much I struggled with interviews, however this forced me to confront my anxieties andwork to improve them. I had no option but to work on my weaknesses and round out my skill set. Succeeding at the interview with Start It Right was the beginning of the end to my worries. I had the confidence to know I’d done well in what I saw as my biggest weakness. I carried this with me into other interviews and ended up securing one of my ideal position.

Working for the civil service has long been something I saw as unachievable, so getting to

the interview stage and then somehow succeeding has been my greatest achievement yet.

My best advice is what I always found annoying to hear: just keep going!

It can seem impossible that a job will come but I promise to anyone out there who is looking for their next role, that it will happen. Whilst you are applying, if you have time to volunteer or

learn a new skill, I strongly recommend this. Often you will not just be helping yourself but others as well.

Many of my voluntary experiences have provided great examples in interviews as well as helped me to secure my new role. At the same time I have also been able to give

back to my community and enact positive change.

It is likely we will all be unemployed at some point, often with things like Covid-19 you feel like you lack control over the situation, but in my experience you can control your response to the situation and this feeds positively into the application process.

Best of luck to everyone job searching!


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