Within one week, I went from admiring the sunset on the beach with my friends to sitting in the aisle seat of a plane headed back home to New Jersey. COVID-19 completely turned everyone’s lives around and nobody saw it coming.
College students are facing the worst job market since the Great Depression, with thousands of internships and job offers being cancelled. Many students who worked their entire school year to land internships are stuck inside with way too much time on their hands. If you find yourself in this boat, you may be wondering: what can I do to improve my resume during the quarantine?
While there are many fun ways to pass time during your quarantine, it’s important to make Summer 2020 as productive as possible. There is so much you can do from the comfort of your bed that can help you further your career. So even though you may be bored in the house because your Summer plans are cancelled, here are 10 ways you can make the most of your Quarantine so you can boost your resume and land your dream internship next Summer!
1. Organize your resume and your brand
Now is the perfect time to finally stop putting off tackling your resume or LinkedIn page. It’s important to always keep your resume up-to-date with all the incredible things you have done in the past year. Everything, from the content to the set-up of your resume is essential to finding a great job or internship. While editing your resume can be super tedious, it can make or break your job search. Make sure that you focus on the skills that you want to showcase to your potential employer.
You can boost your online presence on LinkedIn or Handshake using the content from your resume. Also consider creating a portfolio or Website to showcase your accomplishments. Whether it’s a blog about baking during quarantine or a Wix site to show off your new Photoshop skills, you will be helping your online brand, which will make you more marketable to employers.
2. Take classes at your college
By taking classes, you can free up time to have an Internship during the year in a later Semester. You can complete your classes quicker or even graduate early and save money. Getting rid of some General Education classes could allow you time to add a useful minor or double major as well.
This Summer, I’m taking four online classes to keep my brain active. With the Black Lives Matter movement being in full force, I wanted to educate myself more, so I’m taking an Introduction to Black Studies class. Summer 2020 could be the perfect opportunity for you to take that class you are really interested in.
Another added bonus is that at UCLA and many other colleges, out-of-state tuition is waived in the Summer, which can be a huge financial bonus.
3. Earn free online certifications from other colleges/organizations
Online certificates are super easy to add to your resume in the Skills or Certifications sections and they can even be added to your LinkedIn profile. These certificates demonstrate your motivation and drive to future companies or Graduate schools.
If it’s not financially feasible for you to take classes at your college, many Ivy League universities are offering free short-term classes on Coursera. You can take anything from a Marketing class at Wharton Business School to a class on Buddhism from Harvard.
Another type of certificate you can get can be from an organization targeted toward helping college students. For example, you can get a certificate from the Public Relations Council (PRC) to learn about social media marketing while becoming “Agency-Ready”.
4. Learn new technical skills or brush up on old ones
With all the free time on your hands, you can grow your skills to become a more hireable candidate in the future. It’s always helpful to have basic proficiency in many technical platforms because they can overlap with multiple jobs. The fact that you are using your quarantine to learn new skills will show future employers that you are dedicated to learning more about your career field and self-improving.
There are so many platforms such as LinkedIn Learning, Udemy, Skillshare, Skillshop, or Google Analytics for you to learn practically any skill that could be useful in the future. Whether you want to learn a new Programming language, learn graphic design on Photoshop or learn how to build charts on Excel, now is the perfect time!
5. Learn a new language
Learning a language will not only help your cognitive skills, but it can be a competitive advantage to set you apart from other potential hirees. The demand for bilingual professionals is rising because employers understand that language is very important to communication. Companies with a global presence are especially looking for bilingual people.
My favorite site for learning languages is DuoLingo. It makes learning super easy and you can take it at your own pace whenever you have free time instead of following along with a class and syllabus.
6. Volunteer virtually
If you have a passion for helping others, you can volunteer at a bunch of places. There is so much that you can do from your computer screen: from volunteering for a Presidential Campaign or working for the Census to volunteering to help out the homeless.
As an added bonus, your volunteering will most likely have a title that you can put on your resume to show employers that you kept yourself busy during quarantine. You can also just gain a perspective of the world around you. DoSomething has a list of nine places where you can make an impact as a virtual volunteer, including well-known establishments like the Smithsonian and the United Nations.
7. Conduct informational interviews and network
As a college student, one of the best ways you can learn about new industries and create connections is through networking. You may have heard of informational interviews, which are essentially talking to people about their careers and what advice they can offer you. They are the perfect way to learn about a company or organization. It’s especially important to follow through and keep up the connection you have made with your interviewee.
Networking can be very intimidating so you may be wondering: where do I start? Who should I talk to? The best place to start is LinkedIn or Handshake. Reach out to alumni from your college and people working in companies or fields that interest you. I’m sure more people are eager to help than you realize.
Here is a FREE networking template that you can use if you aren’t sure what to say.
8. Find a research Opportunity
Look into a way that you can research at your college from home. One place to start is to see if your college has an “Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program”, or UROP for short. Researching could be a great opportunity to learn new skills and gain an in-depth perspective of any topic that interests you. Research can also be applied to practically any field and will show employers that you are dedicated.
Research positions are very easy to include on resumes. You could also form a really strong connection with a professor or advisor that could write you a Grad school letter of recommendation. If you aren’t sure where to look, here are 10 steps to get you started with how to research.
9. Help small businesses cope with COVID-19
It’s no secret that thousands of small businesses all over the world are struggling because of the Coronavirus. Maybe you have seen the impact of Coronavirus in your own town: if a local bookstore is thinking of closing or your favorite restaurant is struggling to deliver their food.
Think entrepreneurially and try to find solutions to help local businesses. For example, you can offer to run the social media or advertising for a local boutique or you can encourage people to take virtual fitness classes from your local gym. By helping these small businesses, you can make an impact right in your community. Also, you will likely work with the owner of the company and can form a relationship with them. Maybe they can refer you to a friend or write you a letter of recommendation in the future.
10. Work a low-training job
If you want to use your free time to make money, there are lots of places you can look to find temporary jobs for the upcoming months. Working a job will allow you to learn skills that you may not have had before. You might also gain a new perspective that could help you in future jobs.
Since schools are closed, families in your area may be seeking tutors. Advertise on social media and search for online opportunities. You can work online as a scribe for a medical company or as an online bank teller. There are a bunch of remote job boards you can look at as well.
If you have the ability to work in person, lots of grocery stores or pharmacies are looking for temporary staff to help with delivery or stocking. Companies such as Amazon are offering delivery and warehouse jobs. There are also many grocery and food delivery services you can look into if you have a car like Instacart, Shipt, UberEats, or DoorDash.
Just because your internship or summer plans have been cancelled because of Coronavirus doesn’t mean you have to sulk. There are still plenty of ways you can productively spend your Summer 2020. Following any of these tips will help you revamp your resume this Summer and land your dream job or internship next year.