Written by: Raina DeBrouwer, Co-op Coordinator, Co-operative Education
Networking is an essential part of any job search. For students looking to secure summer 2021 co-ops, internships, or practicas through their own job search, networking is even more critical. The level of self-isolation that the COVID-19 pandemic introduced may make effective networking seem especially challenging, however what we lack in physical proximity, we compensate for in shared experiences. Rather than focusing on the barriers the pandemic has introduced to professional networking, let’s take a look at some of the opportunities.
Ready-made ice breaker
To some degree, COVID-19 has impacted us all. The ability to bond over this shared reality is a new one, and one that opens the door for more genuine connectedness. Whether you’re approaching new connections or latent ones, you can — and should — ask them how they’re doing. This genuine probing will open the door for a more meaningful discussion, while also setting expectations for how much capacity your connection has to give at the moment.
Remote work revolution
When the pandemic hit in 2020, everything and everyone was forced to go digital. From children tuning in to school, to seniors catching up with loved ones — gone are the days when video conferencing was a scary tool to be avoided at all costs. This shift has its advantages in the workforce. That coffee meeting or job that previously would have been unavailable to you due to proximity is now entirely possible. Use the tools at your disposal to strike up a conversation. Your connections are already doing it!
New skillset and resilience
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed us. The mere continuation of day-to-day living has required a level of resilience far beyond what many of us had previously tapped into. The ability to weather a storm of this magnitude, for this duration, speaks to endurance and strength. Whether we asked for them or not, all of these qualities are desirable ones in the eyes of employers.
With these considerations in mind, how can you set yourself up for success while networking during the COVID-19 pandemic?
1. Craft your online identity
Take time the brush up that LinkedIn profile. Right now, your digital self is the only one people are seeing. Ensure that it’s your best self! Check out this LinkedIn for Future Professionals workshop and this 5 Tips for a LinkedIn Profile Mini Makeover article.
2. Take advantage of programs available to you
When the pandemic hit, thousands of organizations were forced to move their events and workshops online. Take advantage of professional development opportunities from the comfort of your home. Sign up for free programs at the Mount, like The Department of Business and Tourism’s Learning Passport Program and Virtual Career Week. Register now for SHIFT: Building Career and Life Resiliency in Uncertain Times, a virtual event on February 8, 2021 designed to support soon-to-be graduates, recent graduates, and all MSVU students for life after university. Also, stay tuned for workshops from Career Services including Job Club 2021: COVID Edition, coming in April 2021.
For co-op and internship students completing their first work term in summer 2021, attend a virtual co-op employer panel on Friday, January 15. To get more information and to RSVP, check your Mount email inbox for emails from firstname.lastname@example.org.
3. Rekindle old connections
It’s never a bad idea to check in on those you care about, but it’s especially important now. Reach out to your old connections to say hello. Start interacting with posts and sharing your own. It may not land you a career opportunity right away, but strengthening your network can only bring you positive opportunities — even if it’s just the chance to connect with someone. Catch up with past connections and forge new ones at events by CPRS-NS, Fusion Halifax, and Halifax Chamber of Commerce.
After a year of unprecedented challenges, the pandemic has armed us with a new level of compassion and resilience. Just remember this as you set out to meet new people: you aren’t the only one looking to connect, and the Co-op Office is here to help you do it! If you decide to complete your own job search for the summer 2021 work term, contact email@example.com to arrange a meeting with a Co-op Coordinator.
For more helpful tips on networking from home during COVID-19, save the date for our Learning Passport eligible Networking from Home During COVID-19 webinar on Thursday, January 21 from 1:30pm to 2:30pm. When the time comes, you can access the webinar here.
Remember that we are always here to help you network from home to land that dream work term. Good luck!