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An international student's perspective in lockdown

Employability Service

Category: Student support services

16 June 2020

Merika writes from her childhood home in Washington, USA, where she will be until her return to Cambridge for the final year of her degree study. She gives her thoughts on self-care while living away from ARU during these COVID-19 times.

ARU student Merika

If you’re anything like me, this semester may have included rushed last-minute packing without knowing when you’d be back, frantically deciding what library books you absolutely need, and expensive tickets in a desperate need to get home not knowing when and if your borders will close. Maybe you’re back home with your parents. Maybe you’ve ended up couch surfing. Maybe you’re still in the UK feeling like the only one who isn’t back home. We’re all living in a situation that isn’t ideal; being split between countries is a unique and challenging issue not everyone can understand, but it doesn’t mean we can’t make it work for us. Now that you’re – hopefully – settled back into your home country, you have options.

It’s a frustrating transition as the world moves online, but don’t let the pandemic limit your job prospects. In your search, expand your vision of the employment you’re seeking. You may need to get creative with your skill set, but you have an opportunity to think thoroughly into the classes you’ve taken to expand yourself and job prospects. Don’t forget to use your visa as another resource! Your restrictions will be printed on the card or in the paperwork; some will allow you to work in the UK remotely. If you’re not limited by restrictions, you have multiple countries which provide different experiences to choose between. Just make sure you let them know where you’re living.

If you’re unsure what you want to do – that's okay – pick a job that makes you smile. There is no shame in going back to your old job you quit to go off to the UK; familiarity may be comforting right now. Just remember that you need to leave again; don’t get stuck in the familiar and let the pandemic discourage you. If you’re able to stay home, don’t let anybody make you feel inadequate about that or coming home. Use the time to improve yourself, evaluate your dreams, and practise self-care.

Portion of a world map with North America seen and person pointing to the UK

Utilize your resources

No matter what your work or living situation, there is always something you can do to improve your career path.

Our Employability team is online, but still around; schedule a video meeting.

Utilize your Personal Career Development Plan to help pinpoint your work style, strengths, and weaknesses. It doesn’t matter what job you have; you can find ways to improve yourself and skills.

Take your time building a solid CV. Start with CV360 to format and improve it, then reach out to the team to help you tighten the details and create something that represents you properly.

Build your social media (if applicable). Get in posting habits, follow similar pages to inspire you, and push yourself to elevate your brand, content, and hashtags. You’ll stand out against other applicants who haven’t.

Join LinkedIn; take a day and just finally do it. It’s a useful resource in the digital age. If employers are searching for personnel, it’s one of the main locations they start.

Don’t forget about internships. Businesses don’t want to close, if they can move online, they will. You may have greater access than when you were limited by location. Use the pandemic to prove your adaptability.

Student advice

If you’ve just finished, think through each class you’ve taken. Remember what ones you enjoyed and which ones you wish you could forget. Pick out what brought you joy about that class and how it connects to your degree. Use those classes as a basis for your job search.

If you’re going into third year, start your dissertation if you can. If you have a topic planned out, look for employment and internships that enhance that knowledge. Use the extended break to get ahead.

If you’re going into second year, help yourself and start your reading lists. I don’t know why, but almost every student says second year is the hardest, heaviest, and has the most reading. If there was a class you loved first year, seek employment or internships to explore it.

Whether you’ve thriving in the lockdown, just trying to survive it, or somewhere in between; you have resources and options. Above all, do not compare yourself to anyone else, especially right now.

By Merika Tencati, Student Employability Activator


The views expressed here are those of the individual and do not necessarily represent the views of Anglia Ruskin University. If you've got any concerns please contact us.