Future Plans Have Changed, Press On

With every unexpected obstacle, there is opportunity to display resiliency, to think creativity, and to re-frame problems in order to achieving educational and career goals. While this is a difficult time, we are going to get through it. When you look back, how will you want to say you responded? If your plans for the summer changed and you are finding yourself wondering what to do, consider the following ideas to make sure you can look back and say that you were resilient, you were adaptable, and you remained positive in the face of adversity.

Expand Your Network – With the current situation, many people are working remotely from their homes. This could mean that they are a bit more accessible and flexible than they normally would be. Look for alumni on LinkedIn who are working in fields you’re interested in and ask them if they would be willing to have a 15 minute phone conversation to answer some industry or company-specific questions.

Build Your Professional Toolbox – Whether you were planning to study abroad, work a summer job, or complete an internship that has been cancelled, you were likely planning to add to your professional toolbox over the coming months by developing new skills. You can still do this! There are a number of free online learning courses and certificates you could take and add to your resume.

  • IU offers a training certificate series online with courses in things like Excel, Design and Media, Coding, Office 365 etc.
  • Visit the Monroe County Library to access Lynda.com. You can also take online assessments through LinkedIn, and if you pass you will be awarded a LinkedIn certificate
  • Develop new skills in data analytics, coding, and computing with THINGS like Cognitive Class, Codecademy, and Google Analytics Academy.
  • Take advantage of free online courses through some of our nation’s top universities like MIT, Stanford, Harvard, and Berkeley. Many of them offer free of charge online courses through edX
  • Download a language application like Duolingo or Babble to learn a new language or refine your skills from beginner to advanced.

Develop Yourself Professionally – Sign up for webinars, watch Ted Talks, read a good self-help book, or find yourself a mentor. If you are considering graduate school or adding credentials like becoming a health or strength and conditioning coach or getting CHES certified, use this time to find study materials and prepare for the exams. You could also dedicate time to researching graduate school programs or compare different companies you might want to be a part of and create a job “wish list” of top companies you’d like to be a part of.

Improve Your Application Materials – The career services office is open and here for support. You can use this time to update your LinkedIn profile, fine-tune resumes and application materials like writing samples and successful projects to include in your LinkedIn portfolio. Discuss how to start and organize your job/internship search, prepare for graduate school, or prepare for a virtual interview.

Volunteer in Your Community – While things are shut down, there are still a number of nonprofits in your local community who need support. Consider these options, but remember your health and safety should come first:

  • Donate/deliver food – Contact your local food banks about how you can support them. Also, consider using Nextdoor to do grocery shopping and no-contact delivery for neighbors who can’t or shouldn’t leave their homes.
  • Donate blood or plasma – With blood drives being cancelled across the country, the American Red Cross has expressed concerns about an upcoming shortage of blood.
  • Offer Tech skills – Organizations are having to transition as much of their services online as they possibly can. Many of these places have never had an online presence before and may be struggling to get up and running in a timely manner.
  • Sew surgical face masks – If you have a knack for sewing or are looking to develop a new useful skill, find an online template and sew surgical face masks for first responders. Many hospitals across the country have requested homemade surgical masks as emergency back-ups for doctors, nurses, and EMT’s.
  • Make emergency relief kits for essential workers – Simple things like snacks, hand sanitizer, and thoughtful cards or inspirational quotes could be the exact thing someone needs to keep going that day. Do a quick search for local organizations organizing the distribution of these kits, or drop them off with friends and family of those you know who are on the “front lines” and still having to work.
  • Offer virtual tutoring  – Many parents are still working and can’t help their student-aged children adapt to the new virtual classroom. Offer your help in some of your stronger subjects.

Remember the Importance of Self-Care – If you have the time and are feeling up to the challenge, go ahead and update your resume or try out some of the suggestions above, but remember it is not expected during these times. These are just suggestions that can help you prepare for your career, make a difference in your community, and support your mental health. Do with them what you will and stay safe!

By Kimberly Ecenbarger
Kimberly Ecenbarger Associate Director of Career Services Kimberly Ecenbarger