THERE ARE STILL WAYS TO GET AHEAD
BY ERIN SILVER
According to Nikkita Scott, there are still many ways students can get ahead.
She admits that anyone who had their heart set on an internship may be disappointed at the moment. Whereas some overseas companies have been able to switch to digital internships, the same changes have not yet been seen in Bermuda. However Ms Scott, the director of Counselling and Student Activities and Financial Support Services at Bermuda College, says there are plenty of things students can do despite the difficult environment.
“Earning money is a challenge, particularly depending on your age,” she said. “Some students have put on their entrepreneurial hat and started a business. If you have a business idea, this may be the time to pilot it because standard jobs are still difficult to come by.” Even if the effort does not amount to much money, starting a business is great way for students to set themselves apart and gain valuable leadership and organisational skills which will put them in a good spot for future scholarship applications.
Students looking for more traditional job opportunities will find that some companies are hiring. “Grocery chains and food delivery services are expanding. They have reached out to the college and asked us to put the word out,” says Ms Scott. “Many more students are employed in this industry than previously because Covid has increased the need for shift work and meal delivery services.”
If earning an income is not the primary motivator, and students want to develop a certain business skill set, they might want to try reaching out to specific companies to ask if they can help out remotely. There may be some things students can do to gain experience, even if the work is virtual and unpaid. “The reality is finding a job is a challenge and opportunities are limited, but I would encourage students to use all channels to keep informed of opportunities,” Ms Scott advises.
She adds that this includes being aware of any skill development workshops and networking opportunities that your school and other organisations may be offering. “The time to develop your resume is before opportunities arise. Especially if you have limited work experience, it’s important to develop a resume that best reflects how you can add value to an organisation during this highly competitive period,” says Ms Scott.
It is also a great time for students to explore what they are passionate about and discover how they can pursue meaningful volunteer opportunities. “I would encourage students to think about their passions and skill sets and show initiative by reaching out to organisations to ask how they can help,” says Ms Scott. “There is a lot of need during a pandemic.”
She points out how some volunteers have put together food baskets that they delivered to families who were hungry and made accessible to people who were homeless. “Even if you organise food baskets and give them to the charity to deliver, there are ways to help others,” says Ms Scott. She added: “Volunteering may even feel more authentic for some right now because you’ve given real thought to how you’d like to give, what your skills are and find a way to help, rather than just checking a box.”
Most important now is that students focus on school and how to maintain good grades; many scholarships consider academics when choosing recipients. It’s also a good opportunity to practise scholarship interview skills online. While some students may already have experience with in-person interviews, talking to a scholarship panel online can be tricky. Ms Scott suggests practising with someone remotely. Students should get comfortable talking about themselves without having to look down at their notes. They should also practise looking into the camera, rather than at the person on the screen, to mimic making eye contact. This strategy is more engaging and it might be new to students who have never practised the art of the online interview.
She also tells students to keep their eyes open for information or opportunities put out by schools. Many will e-mail with information on job opportunities, upcoming workshops or even virtual networking events. “It’s important to make sure you’re accessing information and checking your e-mail so when opportunities arise you can jump on them,” says Ms Scott. “It’s not the time for you to wait for someone to tell you about it; it’s the time for you to look. Opportunities will go quickly, so you may miss out if you’re not in tune.”
School counselling centres may offer resume-building workshops, networking events or other invaluable sessions for students. “All of this is part of the job searching process,” says Ms Scott. “Stay connected to information offered by your school so when opportunities come you’re ready.”