Picture this: you are in your senior year of college learning that Spring Break just got extended an extra week. While this sounds like great news to any college student, little did we know that our day-to-day lives were about to change. With COVID-19 taking over, that extra week turned into months quicker than we were able to wrap our heads around. Being a senior in college in the beginning months of quarantine was a quite the challenge. Being isolated from our friends in this way after spending 3.5 years of being together every day was a major reality check. We went from spending all day on campus, in the library, and eating in the dining halls – to spending all day in our homes, attending online class from our bedrooms, and getting our groceries delivered.
Slowly, the realizations of what was happening started to set in. As the remaining weeks of our senior year unfolded, it became clear exactly how we would be finishing out our college careers. As May rolled around just three months later, my friends and I had come to the grim conclusion that we would not be celebrating our college graduation the way we had dreamt of. Although sitting on a lawn in black cap and gowns for four hours in the 90-degree heat was not something that sounded so enticing – the thought of not being able to walk across a stage, shake our University Professor’s hand, surrounded by our classmates, friends, and family made us feel like we were being robbed of an experience every college student waits four years for.
Next thing we knew, we were being thrown head-first into the workforce. Navigating the switch from a college student mentality to a brand-new job and taking on a new role and responsibilities that we never had before. Suddenly, we all felt this overwhelming feeling of unpreparedness for life, accompanied by the fact that there were a lot of goodbyes we did not get a chance to say.
Graduating into the workforce during a pandemic really did force us to think hard about the lessons we’ve learned, and how we can grow forward. I hadn’t realized just how important networking was and how useful it would be in life after college. I grossly underestimated the power of human connection and the impact it has. In a world where we cannot currently network in person – tools like LinkedIn, and online seminars (webinars) will be our best friend. No longer having college professors at my disposal made me realize that I would need to find other ways to grow my knowledge. In the age of technology, the internet is a great place to find loads of information and free online courses to continue the expansion of our ever-growing library of knowledge in our minds.
I think the most important lesson that I’ve learned through my transition from college to the workforce – is that although it was not how I imagined, I would not change my experience. We all have unique stories to share as we navigate through the pandemic, but I take comfort in learning that I have a community of fellow Gen Z’ers that have similar stories to mine. It is these similarities have made me realize that the sense of community and togetherness I’ve been a part of is key factor in growing forward.
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