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Graduation to New Career: Succeed While Working from Home

This year, graduation season isn’t what any of us expected. The COVID-19 crisis replaced stadiums full of graduates and their families with Zoom-based ceremonies, parades of decorated cars, and lawn signs congratulating the class of 2020. With no clear end to the pandemic in sight, many of those graduates have not only completed their degrees in isolation but will also be embarking on their careers without ever setting foot in a formal workplace.

For some, this will fit perfectly. But what of those students who wanted the campus experience and couldn’t wait to go to their first office? Students in Loyola’s Master of Arts in Emerging Media program are communicators and connectors who often thrive on contact with others. It’s challenging enough to take your first steps into a career and a new job; without the in-person social contact of a workplace, it can feel even lonelier.

Fortunately, there are many ways that you can set yourself up for success if you’re interviewing for jobs and working remotely, and many resources available to help you navigate this pivotal point in your life.

Loyola’s Commitment to Your Emerging Media Career

Your relationship to Loyola University doesn’t end when you toss your cap in the air! Our values include the strength of community, and many of the career services available to students in the Emerging Media program extend beyond graduation to help our new alumni get a successful start to their professional lives.

This post itself is a reflection of that commitment to our community. We saw an opportunity to compile self-assessment questions, links to resources, and tips for successful work-from-home into an article that’s publicly available for alumni, students, prospective students, and young professionals alike.

For our Emerging Media community in particular, we saw this as an opportunity for our students and alumni to experience at a personal level the difference that emerging media and technology can make in not just surviving but thriving as a young professional working online.

How Are You Thriving with Online Learning and Working So Far?

For some of you, campus closures and statewide shut-downs were a major upheaval to every area of your lives. While Loyola leads the way in hybrid and distance learning, we still have many students who preferred the classroom experience. If you weren’t used to working and learning at home, the sudden change may have been a struggle for you. Now that you’ve had a couple of months to adapt, check in with yourself to see how well you’re managing and where you might need help.

  • Have you established consistent times for yourself to do your classwork? Was it difficult to get privacy and quiet during those times?
  • Did you feel like you understood how to use the digital tools and resources given to you to manage your work?
  • How was your level of interaction with professors and classmates? Did you struggle with having less, or different, connection with them?Were you able to complete work on time, or was it difficult to give yourself structure?
  • Was your study/class environment at home comfortable and free of distractions?
  • What was happening during the times when you were most focused and productive? Least?
  • What are the top 3 challenges you had with learning and working remotely?

Make notes about where you’re struggling the most, and don’t be afraid to seek out help. You don’t have to figure everything out by yourself—or go it alone. Besides making use of resources to improve on your own, consider seeking out or starting co-working groups, asking someone to mentor you, hiring a coach or tutor, or joining social/support groups for teleworkers in order to get the guidance and company you need for success.

You’re not in this Alone: Resources for Networking and Job-Hunting Online

As you’re transitioning from graduation day to the world of job-hunting or to graduate school, turn to Loyola’s Career Services to help you with everything from crafting your resume or CV, to refining your interview skills, to networking within your field, to finding job openings that are perfect for you.

  • All Loyola students (both undergrad and graduate) and alumni are eligible to join Handshake, a job posting service developed for college students, and a partner with Loyola. You’ll be able to not only talk with recruiters and apply for jobs, but read student reviews of employers and message other users about their jobs.
  • Take advantage of Loyola’s extensive professional community when you join Loyola Connect, a networking service for students, alumni, parents, and friends of the university to help each other succeed.
  • You can get a free LinkedIn Learning account through Loyola, which gives you access to a library of videos on a range of career topics.
  • Loyola also partners with Big Interview to offer you online coaching in every aspect of job interviewing, including mock interviews to practice your skills.
  • Many of the Career Center’s additional services, including workshops and meetings with career counselors, have transitioned to an online format for the duration of the coronavirus closures.

The changes we’ve all made to our work and school lives as a result of the pandemic are uncharted waters for people of all ages, even people with experience teleworking or taking classes online. Using all the resources at your disposal to connect with colleagues, mentors, and classmates in order to share your experiences and help each other thrive is even more important now while we’re physically isolated. Explore what Loyola has to offer you, and find the community that will help you succeed.

How to Succeed at Interviewing and Working Remotely

There are a number of ways that you can get started right away with a productive work environment and plan for yourself, whether you’re already working in a job, starting out with applications and interviews, or beginning your graduate program coursework.

  • Create a neat, professional-looking video call area for yourself—someplace comfortable, private, well-lit, and with a neutral background. If you need to, you can curtain off a corner and place a couple of extra lamps nearby.
  • Form a “study group” with friends, classmates, or fellow job-hunters. Establish times to work virtually together, and at the start of those times, do a quick video or voice check-in for everyone to state their goals for that period. Check in at breaks to cheer each other’s progress, then wrap with one more accountability check-in to see how close you got to your goals.
  • Take some time to become a wiz with remote working tools you’re likely to encounter: Zoom, Slack, Basecamp, Asana, Trello, Dropbox, Zapier, and G Suite, to name a few. You’ll make yourself more attractive to employers if you’re ready to hit the ground running.
  • Consider investing in cloud-based backups for your computer, and/or do manual backups to a physical hard drive. Without the benefit of an in-house IT department, it’s up to you to make sure your data is secure.
  • Treat your job hunt and/or classes like the job that it is—set specific hours and goals for yourself, hold yourself accountable to deadlines and deliverables, and negotiate with roommates or family to keep that time uninterrupted.
  • Make use of your emerging media skills in your job hunt. Network and interact with potential colleagues and employers on social media. Take advantage of free webinars and workshops, or MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) related to your industry. Craft your image online through profiles, videos, blogs, Medium articles, presentation decks, and even your own website.
  • Once you’re employed, establish clear guidelines with your supervisors for daily communication and check-ins as well as informal meetings.
  • Likewise, make sure you understand the deadlines and expectations in your grad school courses, and take advantage of virtual office hours to talk with your professors about your progress and any difficulties you’re having.
  • Take advantage of online happy hours and other non-work events with your coworkers and classmates to build the good relations and camaraderie that you would normally get in an office.

Need More Help?

At Loyola, we know that starting a career is never one-size-fits-all. Our Career Services department operates on a unique 4-phase process of Self-Discovery>Exploration>Preparation>Active Pursuit to help you reach your full potential and build the skills and self-knowledge you need to thrive in your ideal career. Contact Career Services for more information about what we can do to help you, and move forward confident in the knowledge that you’ve got the entire Loyola Community by your side.