Navigating the Business World Amidst COVID-19: An Editorial Discussion
Editor’s Note: The effects of the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis extend to all areas of life, including the business world. In this article, our Business editors discuss and analyze these developments.
In the wake of this pandemic, and the extra time afforded to students, how can students make the most out of their time to prepare for their future careers?
Eitan Lavian: Personally, I have been learning how to use Microsoft Excel. The career in finance I am on track to go into uses this application, and I have been using online courses to master it. In addition to that, I think students can use this free time to learn more about the career they plan to go into. Although they may have an idea of what it entails, reaching out to individuals within the career or reading books about it can always add more insight.
Eli Frishman: Echoing that, extra skills don’t have to be completely connected to your career. You can read books you actually enjoy that will make you more knowledgeable and perhaps more appealing to recruiters. Also, you don’t necessarily have to focus on your career. The stress of all this means it's okay to binge some T.V. shows, explore your new-found culinary interests, or get into a good fitness habit. Additionally, now is a great time to learn how to have a structured schedule despite the stress.
Recent news has come out that many internships have been getting canceled? How would you respond to this?
EL: Thankfully, my internship has not been canceled. However, I recently saw a post from a recruiter on LinkedIn that noted they would sympathize with a candidate if they saw their internship was canceled due to COVID-19. At the end of the day, that person worked hard and qualified for the internship, and I also agree that credit should be given to them. I personally would also try to maintain a relationship with the employer. Frequently touching base with them can help with future internships, whether they provide you with another one or they recommend you to a friend. For this summer, I think it is worth a try to reach out to the employer, thank them again for the job, and note that you are currently home and would love to remotely help. They will certainly appreciate the note and might even offer employment.
EF: I was informed recently that my internship was postponed until July. At first, the news was disappointing but then I figured if the situation calms down in June, I could spend that time with friends I haven’t seen in a while. Which is a much broader point: there’s a positive to all of this. True, COVID-19 is upending just about everything, but analysts are talking about a surge in American manufacturing, the expansion of in-home services and major changes in the medical industry, to name a few. If your internship has fallen through, perhaps these types of industries interest you and this might be a very opportune time to explore them. Although it sounds clique, this situation is really what you decide to make of it.
There’s been talk about certain businesses and industries closing or filing for bankruptcy. Should this affect the careers we're considering?
EL: No. Things will definitely be different, but the fear of uncertainty should not stop you from going into a career you are passionate about. The pandemic is terrible and many companies are preparing for the worst; however, unlike the financial crisis, we know that with the help of a vaccine, companies can return to a normal state. Back then, we were unsure of whether or not the banking system would exist.
EF: Very true. Companies still require people to operate regardless of how well they are doing. But if your job is affected, it might be a good idea to think about pursuing a master's degree in the interim, and when the economy gets back to normal, you’ll have an edge over other candidates. There’s no denying you might have to wait a little longer for your dream job to come along, but don’t give up hope; just be patient.
The recruiting cycle seems to be uncertain, is it worth my time to network with a looming recession?
EF: It’s always a good idea to network and build connections, and perhaps even more so now. Expanding your list of prospective job leads is a great idea in case your original plans fall through and if it doesn’t lead to an immediate job, it can still sharpen your interpersonal skills. The Career Center is still operating remotely and hosting virtual job fairs. Since there's no real timeline for when things will go back to the way they were, this might become the new norm for a while and you could certainly benefit by getting your feet wet at virtual recruiting.
EL: Building off of that, many may look at this time as a break from recruiting, and they become lazy. People should recognize this and use that to their advantage — especially with all of the time on our hands. Now with people working at home, they might be more responsive to your emails. More calls are more people who can potentially help.
At the end of the day, we are all human and need to do other things besides studying. What have you guys been doing?
EF: I’d love to say I’ve had a consistent school routine and that my focus on tests and jobs hasn’t changed, but that simply isn’t true. I've yet to watch Tiger King so that's obviously next on my list. But we’ve been spending a ton of time indoors in front screens so I’ve tried to make it a priority to get some fresh air and exercise every day. Also, I’ve compiled a list of all the books I want to read by the end of quarantine and these long Shabbats have been great for that.
EL: Send that list my way! I have tried my best to work off of a schedule, but we are humans and that always is not the easiest thing to do. I have tried to do everything mentioned, but I have also made sure to stay active and, of course, have watched a lot of television.
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