A summer of career lessons in COVID-19

By Jayla Johnson

There are a lot of lessons you can take away from a pandemic, especially when it comes to the job market and your career. As students, we always have to remind ourselves that we are in college for jobs especially when the task becomes more challenging. When you go to classes everyday, do homework assignments, battle a pandemic, and go to work, you tend to lose sight of the big picture. 

This summer, I took the time to work on that big picture, and it took some creativity.

With the circumstances of COVID-19, I learned three important things that helped me advance my career plan for this semester. My three takeaways are; open your email and read everything, don’t be afraid to follow up with people, craft your social media. 

At UGA, many students tend to put themselves on listservs for their colleges or other organizations. Over time, I started paying more attention to certain emails than others rather than giving all of them a chance and seeing their worth. One of them happened to be the emails from the Grady College of Journalism. This turned out to be a “hidden gem”. 

Even though the emails were long, they had so many opportunities from online internships, zoom calls with professionals, and more. I listened in on some of them and started to apply some of the tips I received from my summer internship.

My original plan for the summer was being a mentor for Upward Bound students and a news intern for WRBL News 3 in Columbus, Ga. . I couldn’t pursue the Upward Bound program, but I had the opportunity to complete my news internship virtually. From here, I met various industry professionals from the station and beyond with the help of the news director.

I used my social media profiles to connect with the speakers and follow up with them. I acquired countless skills through these interactions and asking questions. 

Most people tend to be afraid to ask questions. I learned that you should never be afraid to ask a well rounded and informed question. People tend to be excited to answer questions when they tell you have done research and are willing to go past the surface level.

In the process of taking advantage of online resources this summer, I decided to develop social media pages dedicated to my journalism craft. This is something that anyone can do for their career field, and I noticed it has become a common self-marketing tool.

In the process of promoting my own content, I worked to generate followers and craft my following to people in the industry. I added guest speakers I encountered, general news accounts for national and local news, and news accounts dedicated to certain subjects. I was able to learn and find ideas for my weekly news stories.

Most people say “Corona ruined everything” or they can’t do something because of COVID-19. This pandemic showed me how to be creative. There are goals to be achieved and jobs to be found, but you have to keep your eye on the prize and challenge yourself.

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