Class of 2020: Making the best of it

Words by Beth Gardner

Finishing University at the best of times can be challenging, daunting and uncertain. The addition of a global pandemic has obviously not made matters any easier for the Class of 2020.

My name is Beth and, having just finished my degree in English Language and Literature at Cardiff University, I have been starting my journey of pursuing a career in digital marketing. As I’m sure many others will relate to, I definitely caught myself halfway through my final assessment period thinking well, what next? A couple of months later, I have actually found that the abundance of time lockdown has given me has been an amazing tool in helping me find my feet in the world of work.

The first thing I made sure to do was take advantage of the Careers Advice services that my University had to offer. I had several over-the-phone appointments with an amazing advisor, who really helped me know where to start in terms of my current options. She guided me through polishing up my CV, showed me how to make the most of cover letters, and pointed me in the direction of some unpaid work placements that would provide me with some valuable experience in digital marketing.

After successfully landing a placement for a wedding venue coordinator, I began to think of other ways that my time could be well spent learning as much as possible about the world of digital marketing. For example, I found some inexpensive courses online for social media marketing and freelance work – there are a tonne of courses out there for a range of career options – and invested my time into a great deal of research on my chosen aspiration. Getting CV-boosting knowledge, all whilst sitting at my desk at home, will hopefully come in really handy in a post-lockdown work environment! 

I’ve also been having a lot of fun networking with other people in similar positions to myself. Recently, I set up a dedicated Instagram page and was quickly able to find other women who are aiming for a marketing career. Women supporting other women has always been really important to me, so to find myself part of a network that also coincides with the job I’m passionate about has been great! Encouraging other ex-students and small female businesses in similar positions to myself has been so important to me in such strange times, and seeing the community really pull together on this platform has been so empowering.

Furthering my writing skills and flexing my creative muscles a bit more has also been a priority for me since finishing my degree. Not only has starting a blog and experimenting with graphics on Canva been a useful practice of marketing skills, but it’s also given me an outlet to discuss issues that are important to me and, crucially, keep me busy now University is over! Finding productive ways to spend these last few months has been so rewarding, as I know that I’ve made many steps career-wise that I wouldn’t have taken the initiative with in a usually busy graduate context. 

Missing out on celebrating my final deadlines and results with friends from University has been undeniably hard, and the abrupt end to the last three years of hard work has been (I’m sure many of you will agree here) seriously anticlimactic. It’s taken some time to adjust to the reality of graduating in a world in lockdown, and some days can still be pretty tough. It’s completely fine to feel robbed of the full student experience after years of effort. However, when life starts looking normal again, I want to feel like I’ve really made the best of this time where I’ve been left to my own devices. 

Though I planned to pursue digital marketing either way, I can’t honestly say I’d have engrossed myself so thoroughly in developing my skills and establishing my own personal brand. With other things in my life to have focused on within a normal daily routine, I would almost definitely not have had chance to put 110% into my future career prospects. In that sense, ending my University journey in quarantine has actually been really beneficial to me! I hope reading this reassures you that there are positives to be found in such overwhelming times. It just goes to show that nothing should be able to stand in the way of your goals, and as cheesy as that sounds, I completely believe it!

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