In our culture, time is money, but now quarantine has stopped the world from spinning. With no obligations or classes to attend, it is tempting to spend this time relaxing; however, one question my professors posed this semester was how I would respond to future employers asking, “How did you spend your time during quarantine?”
My desired response to this question set the tone of my time in quarantine. Now is the time for entrepreneurship, unfinished projects and productive endeavors. In the book “How To Land Your Dream Internship,” author Tam Pham stressed that future success hinges on the experience you accumulate prior to graduation. From seniors to freshmen, we have all been given a rare gift: time. Time is one of the most valuable commodities, as college students well know, but time on its own is not worth anything. It is how we apply time that defines its importance.
I have been tempted, as others have, to relax after the end of classes. With so many students required to stay home, it could easily be viewed as a stay-in vacation, and so many will treat it as such. Using this time productively will make you an outlier — a unique example standing out against the thousands of resumes applying to the same position post-graduation.
Many of the internships I was applying to this semester were canceled. This is not a dead end, but merely a redirection. Abandon the conventional methods; this is not a conventional time. Reach out to employers you are interested in working for and ask if there is any work you can do remotely. If you cannot find paid work, volunteer your time in your field of professional interest. Help is often mutual; businesses use your time, and you get professional experience.
Freelancing is another option, and it pairs well with remote work in many fields. As a journalism major with an emphasis in photography, I can independently write pieces for local publications and provide visual coverage of my surrounding area (while following health guidelines, of course). Whether published or not, the networking gained from working independently is invaluable; instead of being introduced to potential employers as a college graduate, be known as a former student with ambition.
If you do not have a digital portfolio, now is the time to make one. Using Wix, Squarespace or various alternatives, create a website compiled of projects and credentials for future business applications. I would encourage anyone who has been dissuaded from projects by the pace of life to pick them up now and finish them. Use this standstill to bolster your resume and experience. Though many internships and jobs are canceled, look for gaps that need filling. Invest your empty time into the success of your future. As American entrepreneur Jim Rohn said, “Time is more valuable than money. You can get more money, but you cannot get more time.”