Thursday, June 11th would have been my convocation day.
Living through a pandemic on its own is quite interesting to think about if you consider we are living through a history textbook that our future children, grandchildren, etc. will read. However, GRADUATING into a pandemic during an increasingly difficult step in a young person’s life? Even more terrifying. Furthermore, a virtual graduation ceremony is being hosted while we all still hope for the possibility of a real convocation, like years past got to experience. Life can change in an instant.
During my studies, I found myself constantly busy with activities within the Ryerson community through my career boost student position with Alumni Relations and volunteering within my program for various events, among other things. Since March 13th however, I have started losing track of days, the number of jobs I have applied for, and have found myself sitting still for the first time in years. Leaving me with nothing but my thoughts, and a community filled with people who are facing the same dilemma.
On March 29th I received my first response from a company. I remember seeing the email and being extremely nervous about the subject title “An update on your application”. Little did I know, this would be the first of many emails from companies stating: “Due to circumstances beyond our control, we have decided to remove this job posting” among other similar sentences. On the plus side, reaching out to friends and peers has shown me that I wasn’t alone, and other new grads were having similar experiences as well. This has left a whole graduating class a little disappointed in the future we had planned out for ourselves, and the excitement we had to be onto the next chapters of our lives. It was time to get to work on making resumes and cover letters even more pristine than before.
As I sit here and type this in my childhood bedroom, I find myself feeling nostalgic on my time spent with Ryerson. My experiences here filled me with so much pride and encouragement in the topics that I had been learning about, and the obstacles I had been ready for. Nothing could have prepared anyone for this. I have never had to experience fear of the unknown and fear of the “what’s next” but I find myself turning on notifications for LinkedIn job postings and keeping a browser window open with companies’ career pages so I can refresh them daily. I quickly started to notice a sharp decline in daily postings.
A few weeks ago, while browsing through LinkedIn, there were roughly 10 positions posted during that week, one of which I felt fit my goals and experience level, but also had a few thousand applicants. Would I hear back? Would the company choose applicants at random to interview? Would I be one of the lucky people to be drawn from a hat? These questions run through my mind often, but as my father always says: “Apply anyway. The least they can do is say no.” So, I did.
While discussing plans with fellow new grads from not just Ryerson but many other post-secondary institutions, I have concluded that more people than I originally realized have been seeing a decline in job postings and a decline in salaries in their respective fields. Making this not just a pandemic we are living, but unemployment and potential poverty as well. Unfortunately, it is difficult to tell when either will loosen their grip.
Thus far during my time social distancing, I have come to realize a few things:
- Turn on LinkedIn job notifications. Be one of the first to apply
- If you can’t get a job, look into furthering your education
- Take time to thank the people around you
- Have faith in yourself
- Be proud of everything you have accomplished
- You are not alone
I hope for all of my fellow new grads; or even those who may have lost their jobs, that we all find something shortly, so we can continue our life plans. I know we will.
Congratulations to the class of 2020! “We did it”, but we are not done yet. Go make your mark in the world.
Kayla Thomson is a recent graduate of Ryerson’s New Media program. Over the course of her degree, she has concentrated her studies on social media and innovative marketing techniques from design, implementation, and analytics, to marketing management. She has excelled in leadership within volunteering and holding positions with various organizations in social media management and fundraising efforts.