Graduating and Starting a New Job Amid a Pandemic

By Sheerah Gebhardnew grad graphic

To put it lightly, graduating in mid-pandemic 2020 was nothing short of terrifying. 

During my last semester, I had been hearing a lot about cases of COVID-19 from everyone around me. Who heard this? Who heard that? What about this? What about that? There was fear and trepidation about the unknown future. 

Fast forward to the U.S. shut down and I was back at my parent’s house. I hadn’t wanted to spend the quarantine in an old college house by myself, so I had moved home early to finish out my senior year, like everyone else … at my desk, in my room. 

After my 2020 virtual graduation, I asked myself “What now?” The world was in lockdown, people were losing their jobs, I had student debt and no one was hiring. I had been pushing out application after application with no end in sight before and after graduation I had to continue my full-time job search whether the positions were in my desired field or not. 

Fast forward again four more months and I had applied to over 300 positions, heard back from less than five, interviewed for two, and had zero jobs. I was losing hope.

Eventually, I found a temporary position and lived frugally for months until a woman, whom I had met when she came and spoke at one of my marketing classes, messaged me on LinkedIn asking if I would be interested in a position at Swim Creative.

I had known this company well in college and had been impressed with their commitment to being creative, fun, inspiring and at their ability to produce some of the best content I had ever seen. So I had established a relationship with them and stayed in touch over the course of the pandemic. 

After I interviewed, I was offered the job and I started the very next week.

Being the first hire to be starting in a fully remote position, I was in the Twin Cities while the office was in Duluth. Until I could move up there I was working from home and driving up every few weeks. But, there wasn’t any rush for me to move up, for which I was grateful. My bosses were very supportive about working from home and taking the time I needed to find a good place to live in Duluth.

Speaking of working from home, it wasn’t quite the culture shock that I was expecting. With the use of Google Meet, Slack and Basecamp, it was almost like working from an office, a very far removed from everyday life kind of office. But then again, the whole pandemic felt like that. 

There were some extremely surprising positive effects of this work environment. First, using Google Meet, my coworkers would share their screen with me. Being able to look directly at the screen instead of over someone’s shoulder was amazingly helpful and I learned twice as fast being in that kind of training format. 

You may already know this, but the hardest part of working from home is getting to know your comrades on a one-on-one basis. If you’re lucky like I was, your coworkers will reach out to you on Slack and chit-chat with you all throughout the day. They asked how I was doing, what I was doing, what I was struggling with, what they could do to help and if I had any questions. It was supportive and encouraging to see that their work environment was so upbeat and collaborative even through a computer.

The biggest perks of working from home were being able to wake up and simply walk down the hall for work, being able to make a fresh lunch every day and being able to push myself to learn more. I wanted to be productive and I found myself working hard to self-improve and to support and help my new coworkers and company. 

There were some things that were harder than expected; sometimes I had a lack of motivation and didn’t always know what was going on with the office or where I would stand with my coworkers, just to name a few. My new managers knew that if they invested in me, taught me, and gave me the time to adjust, that I would figure it all out. And because they provided praise and positive feedback, I knew I wanted to commit back that loyalty to the company. 

So, from graduating at the beginning of a pandemic, applying to hundreds of positions to finally starting a remote position at a highly respected ad agency, I have experienced both highs and lows throughout COVID-19 and 2020. 

Let me leave you with this encouragement. As you are searching for your ideal job, know that hard work and perseverance pay off. Keep applying, keep networking, keep moving forward. There is a place out there for you. 

With the pandemic still affecting how we work and connect, go to https://swimcreative.com/zoom-etiquette/ to learn a few tips that helped me with the job hunt and interview process.

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