I wrote this post last week in hopes of helping everyone that had already lost their internship or job because of COVID-19. About an hour ago, I received the same email many others have already received. My summer internship had been canceled too.
I can be a total worrywart, and not knowing what's going to happen now absolutely terrifies me. This internship was going to be a way for me to gain the experience that I'll need to get a full-time job once I graduate (oh, and you know, make some money).
Although it's not an ideal situation, I am already prepared to find an alternative. I know that I can either complain about this pandemic screwing up my plans and feel bad for myself, or I can make opportunities happen.
We all have to realize that internships, jobs, experience, and money are never going to just fall in our laps. I'm preparing to spend about a week sending out countless emails and phone calls trying to find something else to do to get some experience.
I understand times are really tough. I mean I'm going into the event industry right now. Perfect timing, right? But that doesn't mean you should just throw in the towel and give up.
So what CAN you do if you've lost your internship or job?
You've got two options. You can sit around, watch Netflix, and try to draw unemployment, or you can get creative, gain real experience, and make money finding a plan B.
I'm here to help you with the latter option. This is a perfect time to dive into some talent you have and give future employers a reason to think you're a great problem solver and know how to handle a real dilemma.
Let's go through a few different things we can do that don't involve making Tik Toks, baking bread, or sitting on the couch doing nothing.
1. Make your talents + expertise VIRTUAL.
Not many people are hiring for jobs in-person in right; however, most people have had to quickly move their businesses online. Take whatever position you had and find a way it can be moved online. It might not be the exact same position, but you will still be getting your foot in the door with an organization and getting some experience.
For example, let's say you had an internship at a marketing firm. 95% of organizations' marketing has moved online. Most 20-year-olds are pretty savvy with social media. Present yourself as a social media manager or even a consultant if you feel like you already have experience in this. Now you can work from home running a company's social media instead of having to go into an office every day.
There are so many websites out there that even let you do this virtual work as a freelancer. Use your talents and work for different people. It might not be the corporate job for which you were hoping, but you might get even more experience doing this. People post jobs of every kind they need to get done, and you can go to them to do it. upwork.com is one of my favorite sites for freelance work. Fiverr.com is also a great site!
2. Reach out to small businesses.
Most larger companies already have systems and employees ready for situations like this. Smaller businesses are the ones scrambling and trying to find ways to survive this crisis. Most of them don't have as many employees and are probably trying to juggle things themselves.
Reach out to these smaller businesses. They are the ones that might need your help.
Let's go back to our marketing internship example. You've decided to try to find an online job that deals with social media. Large companies probably already have multiple employees in charge of their social media, but smaller businesses might not have anyone in charge of their social media. The owner would probably love to have someone to take that job off their plate.
When you reach out, you will need to explain what specific value you could bring to them during this time. Remember to be very kind and respectful. Many of these owners are going through very troubling times. The last thing they need is a pesty college kid demanding a job and explaining what they're doing wrong as a business.
Get creative with the small businesses you reach out to. Restaurants, clothing stores, photographers, gyms, and coffee shops are a few great places to start.
3. Find a problem + make a solution.
People's worlds have been turned completely upside down. Each person is probably facing 3,952 problems that they never could have imagined happening.
Get creative and find a solution to a common problem.
For example, let's say you have several older people who live on your block that don't have family living nearby. You know it is still pretty unsafe for them to constantly be going out and getting necessities. Make yourself a socially distant assistant. See if any of them would like you to go buy their groceries or pick up their prescriptions. Run their errands for them for a small fee.
Find a problem many people are facing and see if there is anything YOU can do to fix it.
This might not give you the most professional experience, but it's putting some dough in your pocket and giving you something to do.
Make sure you're up to date on your state's policies and are confident you are following the rules. Also, be aware that some people might be struggling financially and cannot offer you a lot of money for your services.
4. Use this time to improve yourself professionally.
Let's say you've tried a couple of these options and nothing seems to be working. What else can you do? Even though you can't find a job right now, that doesn't mean you should just let this precious free time go to waste.
Use this time to find ways to make yourself a great candidate for a job when things go back to normal.
Update your resume, create a LinkedIn profile, take a free course about the industry you're wanting to go into, see if there are any online certifications you could get, figure out how to use a new program like Excel or Photoshop.
The job force is going to be more competitive than ever when this is over. Don't waste this time and expect to find a job afterward. Don't just hope to land a good position in the future. Do some dirty work and make yourself the best you can be.
If you're serious about your future and have high expectations for yourself, use this time wisely. Many people won't, and that can actually be a good thing for you.
I feel for every person out there struggling because of COVID-19. I just encourage you to try to overcome it. It's okay to be frustrated and upset, but this is real life. You have to find ways to make something work.
Find ways to make some money, get some experience, and make yourself better for your future. Sitting at home and whining about the situation will get you absolutely nowhere.