By Marissa Armistead, Career Ambassador & Graduating Senior
Like many graduating seniors, I spent my high school summers working one, sometimes two, jobs to save for college. I invested countless hours into writing and revising scholarship applications, hoping I could make ends meet. Once in school, the workload didn’t lighten. I took on part-time jobs, worked hard to maintain a high GPA, and spent significant time and energy exploring who I wanted to become professionally.
One of the only things that got me through the late-night shifts, frustrating applications, challenging coursework, and general uncertainty of my future was the hope of walking across the stage, holding my degree. To have that pinnacle moment taken away because of COVID-19 right now is difficult, to say the least, but it doesn’t mean all celebration and progress has to be put on hold.
While some important elements of graduating simply can’t be replaced – like cancelled commencements, physical gatherings, in-person interviews, or international internships – here’s a list of ways to make the most of your COVID-19 college graduation experience.
1. Get Creative
If you’d planned to party before COVID-19 hit, keep your plans rolling! Find a creative way to chat with friends and family, such as by hosting a live dance party or game night via video apps! You might also consider sending hand-written thank you cards or calling people you’d planned to invite to let them know how instrumental they were in your success.
2. Crank Up Your Productivity
Chances are you have been less motivated lately to make progress towards your next steps—me too. Although difficult, goal setting and achieving is more important now than ever! Use your time to apply for new opportunities, update your resume, and connect with professionals in your field! There are many factors you don’t have control over right now, but you can control how you spend your time.
3. Take Time to Appreciate
While the world seems to be flipped upside down, there are countless things for which to be grateful. Try finding one thing to be thankful for every day. Maybe it’s the fact that you can still work remotely, you get to spend more time with your dog, or that you have enough toilet paper for the rest of the year. Find a reason to pause and appreciate something and its unique contribution to your life!
4. Recognize that Not-Being Okay for a Bit is Okay
Know that there will be times when you might feel down, worried, or uncertain. This is normal while (and after!) experiencing a pandemic! Reach out to those you trust and seek professional help, if necessary. Everyone deals with change and uncertainty in different ways. Do what you need to do to support yourself.
Finally, graduates of 2020, take a moment to pause and be proud of the years of work you have dedicated to get to where you are today. Be proud of the person you have been and are becoming, because that’s definitely something worth celebrating.