2020 has been my worst year yet! I am a recent college graduate with a degree in English and was hoping to go on to do a Masters degree. I have not been able to find work to save money towards going back to University. The pandemic has put my life on hold and I am not feeling optimistic about the future. Do you have any words of wisdom for me?
Feeling Hopeless in Halton Hills
Dear Feeling Hopeless:
I certainly agree that 2020 is a year that will go down in history books. While, It does feel like the world has been put in a holding pattern this is not the first time in history that people have experienced the world shutting down.
Looking back in history we can see that there have been many instances of great uncertainty in the world order through either war or pandemics. I recently was going through the government archives (archives.gov) and there are many letters and recollections that young people wrote to each other expressing fear about the future during the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic. One can also refer back to writings during the Second World War. There were young men going off to war with their studies interrupted along with women going into the work place for the first time.
What can we learn from this? Great events bring about great change. The Spanish Flu pandemic forced advances in workers rights because, as we are seeing today, the importance of essential workers cannot be easily dismissed. Due to the losses of working age men from both World War 1 and the Spanish Flu more women than ever entered the workforce. This lead to changes both economically, and eventually, politically for women. At the same time, education and business life shifted dramatically during both the Spanish Flu pandemic and World War 11.
I wish I had a crystal ball to tell you when but I don’t have one. I believe that we are in this for at least another two years. We need a vaccine and then we need to roll out a vaccine. Not just nationally but internationally for trade to get back to a “new” normal.
What can job seekers do in the meantime? Remember, you are not alone. This current economic situation is affecting everyone so don’t take it personally. Employers won’t. In the meantime, use this time to look at upgrading as many skills as you possibly can. There is a vast selection of online courses you can access. Look at upgrading any software or technology programs you might want to add to your resume. (Check out Alison.com) I would also highly recommend taking free Health and Safety courses online. One that I have found is CCOHS.CA (Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety). They even offer free Coronavirus safety programs and Pandemic planning. Adding this to your resume can reassure your future employer that you are serious about ensuring a safe workplace for all.
Don’t dismiss retail and customer service positions. Although these jobs may not be on your “dream job” list, there is a lot to gain by being in the workplace. Look for opportunities, when possible, to take on leadership roles to show what you can do.
Remember, this too shall pass. In the meantime, stay safe, wear a mask and practice social (but not emotional) distancing.
Dear ELCEE is written by Deborah Noel, firstname.lastname@example.org
Send her your questions.