College is the optimal time for starting the network that you will leverage to grow your career, but what happens when you are going to college in the midst of a pandemic? Students today have a lot of challenges ahead of them, not the least of which is figuring out how to navigate networking, internships, and graduating into a difficult job market. Students need to prepare now for their future careers, and that is going to look a little different than it has for students in previous years.
As employers, there are several things that can help students and recent grads affected by the pandemic make a better start of their careers. First and foremost, not questioning why there has been a job loss or gap in education is critical because everyone already knows it was the pandemic.
Next, continuing to support internship opportunities can help students continue their education with as little interruption as possible. Intern positions are an opportunity to give back to the community and should not stop if at all possible. Finally, as employers we can help our interns and recent grad hires with building their professional networks.
But the social networking still starts in college, and current students would do well to make an effort toward this end. LinkedIn is a great place to start here. For students who don’t have a LinkedIn profile yet, making one should be a top priority before school starts back in the fall.
With every group project and class discussion, students should be adding their peers on LinkedIn to keep up with them after the class is over. Students are missing vital Greek and extracurricular activities, key activities for meeting lifelong colleagues, so figuring out a virtual replacement for such networking opportunities is going to be crucial for students this year.
Even though face-to-face interactions may be scarce when school starts back in the fall, students can still create opportunities for social interaction through virtual means or socially distanced with masks. It’s not going to be easy, traditional, or natural – students will have to go out of their way to make opportunities for social interaction and networking. But it has to be done in order to have the ability to jumpstart your career, which will be your next post-pandemic challenge.
How will starting a career look different in the next few years? Are students ready for the challenges that lie ahead? Learn more about challenges to college during the coronavirus pandemic from the infographic below.