What’s Next for Final Year Students – Graduating during a Pandemic

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Written by Samantha Oates-Miller, Career Insights and Graduate Support Assistant

I completed my master’s degree in December 2020 at The University of Manchester, and I am now working in the Careers Service.  Here are my experiences of finishing university and getting a job during the pandemic. 

If you need support with your job search, or any other aspect of you career, you can fill out the careers What Next? survey now to get tailored careers advice by email. 

Completing my degree during the pandemic was a strange experience. Everything changed suddenly. One minute I was attending lectures and socialising with friends, the next I was completing my dissertation is isolation; unable to look at books I needed from the library and separated from my course mates. Adapting to outdoor activities and virtual get togethers was difficult to start with, but it now seems normal; I ring my friends and colleagues for a chat and a cup of tea all the time!

Once I finished my course, job hunting was equally strange. I used eight main strategies in my job search to help me to manage my time and stop me from getting deflated when I didn’t see immediate results. Although I had previously applied for jobs online, because my socialising was virtual too, it felt like my whole world was online. 

For one of the jobs I applied to, the interview was recorded; the questions appeared on screen and there were no actual interviewers. It was slightly unnerving relying on technology – I had no way of knowing whether my answers had been submitted properly. For a second application, I had pre-tasks to do that I then emailed to the interviewers, followed by an interview over Zoom. It was strange not meeting the interviewers in person or shaking hands, but I also found I felt more calm than usual because I could have a cup of tea and wear comfortable clothes. Additionally, I used to practice my interview skills beforehand. 

After many, many applications, I was offered a job as part of Manchester Graduate Talent (MGT) at The University of Manchester. I now work as the Career Insights and Graduate Support Assistant within the Careers Service. So far, this has been entirely remote: I work from home, have never met my colleagues in real life and spend far too much time on Zoom! Starting a new job remotely has pros and cons; it can be slow to get in touch with people via email and I often don’t move from my chair all day. However, I also spend less money on food and commuting, and I have more time to spend with my family. 

Throughout the pandemic, from the end of my degree and job searching, to applying and starting my new role, the Careers Service has supported me. Attending university and finding jobs during the pandemic is challenging, and the Careers Service recognises that you may need extra support as you plan your next steps after your degree. We have a team of experts on hand to help you feel more confident about life after university: fill out the What Next? survey now to get tailored advice straight to your inbox. Whether you know exactly what you want to do, have no idea, or feel overwhelmed when you think about the future, the Careers Service is here to help. Don’t forget, you can use the Careers Service and CareerConnect for up to two years after finishing your degree too.