The 5 ways that graduates can be using lockdown to develop their careers

Stay Informed, Volunteer, Network, Invest and most importantly, look after yourself.

1.       Stay Informed

As a fresh-faced new graduate, it is easy to think that you lack experience, and in many respects you do. It is important to remember, however, that the previous decade of cohorts entering the workforce that precede you have never directly experienced the effect of an economic downturn in their industry. Being able to anticipate and navigate an economic downturn is a key skill, so ensure that you understand what socio-political issues are at play during this pandemic. Perhaps invest time in reading quality journalistic reviews and opinions (for example The Economist, The FT, The Spectator, The New Yorker, The Atlantic etc..). Do not squander this learning opportunity

2.       Volunteer

You are unlikely to have such an amount of free time coupled with a large societal need for volunteers again. Young people are seemingly least effected by the virus and the call for this generation to do their part is great. Not only will it be fulfilling, you will likely gain some great experience and perhaps useful contacts. Environmental, social and governance (‘ESG’) trends are growing across the private sector and soon, I predict, graduates will have to demonstrate their ESG credentials when applying for their first jobs. It is also a great opportunity to gain inciteful answers to competency questions in future job interviews

3.       Network

Important people are normally busy people. Requests for mentorship, advice or just a friendly chat will often fall on deaf ears. But some senior people may have a more free time on their hands than normal (areas such as marketing, sales, business development, advertising are all likely to be below full capacity). It is always hard to get senior people to invest some of their time into you, but if they ever are going to, now could be the time

4.       Invest

Tumbling valuations, profit warnings, cash constraints, low oil prices and very high levels of government support are creating a lot of volatility in the markets. With volatility there is potential to make money from small scale personal investments. Furthermore, the knowledge you will gain on the dynamics of a financial market, especially under stress, could be valuable experience in the future. If money is tight, then you can invest modest amounts or even open a practice trading account. The discipline of having to track and attempt to read the markets will be very educational  

5.       Look after yourself

Your career is going to be a long torturous journey with many twists and turns. At times it will be demanding, exhausting and stressful and you may lament not having the time to step away from the maelstrom and look after your own wellbeing. It takes, on average, two months to form a new habit. So why not use this time to get fit, eat healthier, catch up on sleep or learn to meditate. You may not have this time again to invest into your own wellbeing and forming healthy habits now could benefit you for the rest of your life. Also do not worry about there being a potential delay to your new career of a few months, over the 50+ years of your working life it will make no difference.