Around May of 2019, I had just finished my undergraduate degree, graduated, and was looking forward to yet another graduation the following year at Duke.

Once starting the MMS program in July 2019, I knew I had to begin working on my post-graduation plans because this time I would be gearing up for the workforce. After many career events arranged by Fuqua’s Career Management Center, I began editing my resume and creating my pitch, knowing that the road to employment would take an effort to navigate. I braced myself for the impending job search and got a head start and gained some trial experiences early during the fall terms.

However, I never imagined that I would complete the program virtually and that the world would drastically change so quickly due to an unexpected virus.

The global predicament left many in my class with the seemingly impossible task of finding a job during a pandemic. The unprecedented events these past months have caused companies to scramble as well. Internships have gone online, many firms have implemented hiring pauses, and others are now fully conducting the interview process remotely.

During these difficult times, it’s important to stay hopeful and push through our current challenges. The MMS Class of 2020 never expected to enter the workforce in such a critical moment, and it has been reflected in the conversations I had with my peers on the job hunt.

Here are some tips that I found to be helpful, and how I personally approached jobhunting during the pandemic.

1. Take the situation day-by-day.

Creating a schedule is incredibly important in keeping a steady mindset. Set up a daily schedule, but also give yourself room to breathe. Having a more structured schedule personally kept me accountable, and allowed me to set aside dedicated time for the job search. My personal goals were to apply to at least three jobs daily, making sure my resume is tailored for each application, and connecting with at least one relevant contact including Fuqua alumni. Other individual’s goals may have looked different, but allocating time and formulating a task plan was essential in remaining steadfast.

2. Take this time to develop skills that will help further your professional goals.

For example, making connections has remained crucial, and I spent this time working on my networking skills. Scheduling informational interviews with professionals that are working in the fields and positions in which I’m interested gave me an invaluable perspective on the job hunt. Through this process, I learned that companies have had to adjust their schedules, timelines, and expectations as well. Take time to understand the elements you’re lacking in, and work hard to improve on them. 

3. Look into taking development classes either for the workforce or out of personal interest.

Many online learning sites are currently free due to COVID-19, and taking advantage of these classes can give you an edge. Additionally, you can take classes just for fun. Knowledge is enriching and can help keep you engaged while at home. I’m personally brushing up on my Korean language skills which is a personal hobby of mine.

4. Don’t forget to appreciate yourself and know that you are trying your best in hard circumstances.

Last, but certainly not least, finding silver-linings and small victories kept my morale going, and motivated me to not give up on the pursuit. It’s important to recognize that even if your current predicament is tough, if you work hard, keep smart, and be consistent, things will improve. Remember to reward your accomplishments, even if they may be smaller than you expected. Stay committed, keep constantly improving and learning, and remain grateful for the opportunities you have gotten. Remember, we are all in this together.

I learned that by making the most of this time I not only advanced myself but also better prepared for the workforce. As of the publication of this blog, I am happy to report that I received and accepted an offer as a strategy and ops analyst for Cisco!