Friday, 21 August 2020

Lockdown Blues – Getting Your Mojo Back for the Next Academic Year

Jack Trethewey, Cohort 2018

As we rattle our way briskly through August, the start of the next academic year looms ever closer, mired with a complex feeling of uncertainty and excitement. I personally have found myself so engrossed in my new lockdown life, that I find it hard to imagine a time where I didn’t wile away the hours baking bread, ferociously cleaning my kitchen and rearranging my sock drawer. In fact, as June approached, I managed to get myself into a slump. I had recently learned that three placement offers I had secured had been cancelled. In an instant, my summer plans were blown wide open. At the time, I felt this loathsome feeling of self-pity, as if I was being personally targeted by this pandemic and that COVID-19 had made it its mission to derail my life.

However, after days of rhetorically asking “Why me?”, I quickly realised that in the grand scheme of things, my life had barely been affected by COVID-19. In fact, on a scale between one and ten, where one is defined as lockdown having no noticeable effect on my life and ten being defined as every aspect of my life being negatively impacted, I realised I could realistically score myself a 2.5. I still had my health, my friends, a supportive family and many sources of entertainment. Upon realising this, I decided to spend my time being as productive as possible, ensuring I was ready to hit the ground running for that fast-approaching September start. So here are three tips to get your academic-self into shape in time for this new term.

1. Check that CV!

Yes I know, at first this seems slightly pointless given the months of inactivity we have had to endure. However, nobody knows what the economy or jobs market is going to look like post-pandemic. And with unemployment levels reaching record highs in various parts of the world, competition will arguably be fiercer than it has ever been before. Employers will have their pick of CVs to look through, spoilt for choice and able to reject at their leisure. Hence standing out is more crucial than ever. If you’re struggling for ideas, think about how you have adjusted to lockdown. What skills did this require? Perhaps you had to transfer a project online, maybe you learned how to work effectively over Zoom or you may have had to adapt to a brand new routine. All of these changes demonstrate a desirable level of flexibility which, when considered with your impressive qualifications, is bound to give you an edge over the competition.

2. Polish your LinkedIn Profile!

I imagine that like me, many of you have left your LinkedIn profiles to collect dust over the past few months. However, updating your LinkedIn profile now is more crucial than ever. It is clear that working from home has become a necessity for most, with the Internet serving as a crucial tool to make this viable. Hence employment agencies and potential colleagues are likely to look at your profile. Take this period of low activity to  make your profile shine. Ensure your employment and education history is up to date and follow all the people and companies that interest you. If there is something you’re passionate about, write a post about it! Use LinkedIn as an opportunity to get to know like-minded people. You never know where the next employment opportunity could come from.

3. Sort through those administrative tasks you’ve been putting off!

If ever there was a time to sort through that expanding pile of paperwork on your desk, it would be now. And whilst you may think you are completely ready for the new year, ask yourself these questions. If you’re able to, have you registered to vote at your new house? Have you sorted out your student finance? Have you arranged any outstanding bills with your new housemates? Have you prepared your folders for the new modules you’ll be taking? Is your pencil case sufficiently stocked? Have you read the new safety precautions the University is implementing? Do you know how your course is likely to change this year? When was the last time you checked in with your friends? Is there anybody you’ve forgotten about?

So, what now?

I know it’s frustrating to be stuck in this quagmire of unproductivity, especially when we have had it drilled into us that hard-work, proactiveness and a strong drive are important for a successful career. However if you are one to get itchy feet at the thought of continuous inactivity, I hope this post shows you that there is plenty to be getting on with.

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