My Experience of Graduating in the Pandemic and Starting a First Job
In this blog, Azraa Shaik tells her experience of how graduating in the pandemic changed her life—a story that is also shared by many Gen Z in the past years.
2020 impacted the lives of many around the globe. Who would have thought that something that cannot be seen, would bring the entire world to a standstill? Economies collapsed, the mortality rate skyrocketed, organizations had to quickly adjust to the circumstances, and many people had lost their jobs.
The implications of the COVID-19 pandemic were as such, that no one can truly know what the other has been through unless they have experienced it themselves. And being a graduate during this time had meant that there were many milestones that you missed out on.
Graduating in the pandemic is something that no Gen Z, like me, has ever dreamed of. We are so full of potential and promise as future leaders, yet the unexpected event turned our lives upside down.
How the pandemic changed the lives of graduates
I was fortunate enough to have completed my studies before online learning became the new norm, but there were other instances that the pandemic had affected.
Every graduate dreams of the day that they get to attend their graduation ceremony. Adorning ourselves in that cap and gown, even if it were for a few hours, the feeling of triumph that comes with it was one that I did not get to experience. I did not get to experience what it meant to have your name called out as part of Class of 2020, to walk across the stage to receive my degree, to celebrate that moment with my friends and family, nor did I get to take pictures for “The gram” captioned “The tassel was worth the hassle!”.
I did not get to experience what it meant to have your name called out as part of the Class of 2020, to walk across the stage to receive my degree, to celebrate that moment with my friends and family.
I received my degree in the mail, and at that moment it just felt like a piece of paper and nothing more.
It also became increasingly difficult to start my career. In normal circumstances, the availability of jobs for graduates was quite slim, and the pandemic made it even slimmer. The lockdown meant that I could not go and put myself out there, and actively seek work opportunities. I had to adjust to being asked to do virtual interviews as opposed to in person.
My onboarding was done virtually as well. Instead of going to the office, I was now working from my bedroom office and any interaction that I had with colleagues was done online. And although the physical interaction and connection that would usually occur in an office space were not there, the support and encouragement that I received from my colleagues were tenfold.
Working from home sounds like a dream, but I also had to maintain discipline. It was my responsibility to ensure that my work was up to date, as I did not have a manager to physically check in on me at my desk every hour or so. My resolve to prove myself drove me to always give my best. I was determined to show that I may not have years of experience, but my thirst for knowledge would surpass all.
Although the physical interaction and connection that would usually occur in an office space were not there, the support and encouragement that I received from my colleagues were tenfold.
Despite the difficulties that many young people experience from graduating in the pandemic, they are extremely resilient and want to show that they deserve a place in the corporate world too. Organizations will only reap the benefits of hiring fresh graduates for a younger mindset that brings about innovation and new perspectives.
The pandemic may have caused me to miss a few moments in my life, but it was these experiences that helped me grow and develop over these past 2 years. I hope leaders and organizations will be more open to giving more career opportunities to graduates, for we are the future leaders!
Download our latest whitepaper, Equipping Gen Z to Lead an Unpredictable Future, to learn how you can engage and develop graduates into promising leaders!