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Finding a job during a pandemic is possible

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Niambi Landy- Philpott was looking for work when the pandemic hit. 

“A lot of companies began withdrawing job opportunities,” she said. “Then I received an e-mail that companies I’d been applying to were on a hiring freeze because everyone was working remotely during the pandemic. It made it hard to look for full-time employment.” 

Her studies at Acadia University in Nova Scotia, Canada, were paid for in full thanks to several awards: the Association of Bermuda International Companies (ABIC) Educational Scholarship, Belco Educational Award, Conyers Dill and Pearman Leadership Scholarship and the Department of Workforce Development Scholarship. 

She received a bachelor of science degree in mathematics and statistics and business administration in 2019 but with no jobs on offer in Bermuda the 24-year-old did not know what she was going to do. 

And then Ms Landy-Philpott got lucky. A recruiter reached out to her through LinkedIn and lined her up with an interview with Wilton Re. After several meetings she eventually got the offer to join the company as an actuarial analyst. 

“I’m so grateful that happened,” she says. 

While she might have been expecting chats with colleagues around the water cooler and enjoying lunch with her new workmates, things are a little different. 

“Currently, we’re blended. We work from the office some days, but other days work from home,” Ms Landy-Philpott said. “It’s a small office so we don’t have to worry about too many people going in and out and it’s easy to social distance. The main thing we do is wear our masks around the office. When we see each other or pass each other on the way to the washroom we have our masks on and keep six feet apart. We follow all Covid protocol.” 

She wants graduating students to know what to expect in the workplace as the pandemic continues. “It’s very computer-based, and interviews have moved to phone, Skype and video conference calls. A lot of companies are back to hiring graduates because they’ve been able to work out the kinks.” 

Ms Landy-Philpott also has some advice for people looking for a job: “Don’t be afraid to adapt to new situations. Covid has forced a lot of people to find new ways to reach out to students. Make sure to have your online profiles up to date so companies and job recruiters have an easier way to find you.” 

She believes her experience is proof of how, even during a pandemic, things can work out if you put yourself in the best position to succeed. 

Kayleb Butterfield, now working as an actuarial graduate at Legal and General Re, agrees. 

She graduated from the University of Western Ontario in Canada in 2020 with help from the Bermuda Foundation for Insurance Studies AIG scholarship. 

“The transition from student to full-time employee is a big adjustment,” the 22-year-old says, “but having to do it during a pandemic while working from home has been a challenge in itself. The biggest difference for me is that the pandemic has made it a lot harder to get to know my co-workers and become familiar with the office culture given that most people are working from home.” 

She is grateful to BFIS for helping her find a job. 

“BFIS definitely played a major role when it came to distributing my resume and making me aware of potential employment opportunities,” Ms Butterfield said. 

“I would encourage all students who are interested in pursuing a career in the insurance industry to get involved with BFIS. The networking events that they put on have provided me with the opportunity to meet industry professionals and get my name out there.” 

Ms Butterfield has some additional advice for graduating students. 

“If you do not have a LinkedIn profile you should definitely create one. It’s the best way to network, given that due to the pandemic there aren’t as many traditional networking events. If you come across a profile of someone in the field that you are interested in, don’t be afraid to send them a message expressing interest in their career path. Bermuda is very small, so building a network is key to getting your name out there. You never know who you may come across who is aware of an employment opportunity that wasn’t on your radar. Also, being present on LinkedIn makes it a lot easier for recruiters to find you.” 

Although she wishes she had been able to have her diploma presented to her in person she realises just how fortunate she is to have had the university experience she did. 

“I definitely would have preferred to have a traditional graduation and one last celebration with friends from university, but I’m lucky. It’s not easy for current students who are having to go through their university studies entirely online,” says Ms Butterfield. “There’s nothing like that in-person university experience, and I feel for those who are missing out on that.” 

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