As a student at the School of Communication, I would naturally love to further my career in this field. The past 13-months have taken a turn no one could have ever predicted. With the new virus taking over the world, people have gone into panic and are scared for their lives and the lives of others. People have had an unprecedented amount of new stress to deal with, and it seems the virus has touched every family in some way or someone who knows someone. It is no surprise that this pandemic has had a massive effect on recruitment and redundancy in negative ways. I’m sure there are other final year students out there who are also worried about the current job market and how difficult it may be to find a job, graduate scheme, or start a business. Which leads me to think, how will the virus affect our industry?

I said before that the virus had touched many families – mine was most certainly one of them. I contracted the virus in September, and it wasn’t an easy road. During this time, we were allowed to meet members of our family and friends outside. My boyfriend had gone for dinner with his friends, one of which unknowingly had the virus at the time and spread it to him and then him to me. It took a few days for it to come to light, as no one from the dinner started to show symptoms for around three days. Once the news came out after everyone had been tested because of their symptoms, I started my isolation period. I began to develop symptoms around day 5. I lost my sense of taste and smell and experienced extreme fatigue; luckily, I did not have any severe symptoms. Even luckier, I did not pass it to anyone who I came into contact with before isolation. I had a test sent to my house, and sure enough, it was positive. I was very fortunate that I had already started to work from home and was still able to attend Zoom meetings and complete work. However, the mental toll it takes can be severe. I was lucky enough to have family around me that would bring me food and leave it at my door, and I used an upstairs bathroom that no one else used to minimise any chance of my family contracting the virus. If I didn’t have the support of my family during those 14 days, just like a lot of people don’t, I know it could’ve been a completely different experience.

For a career in any field, it’s essential to network and link with others in your industry to make valuable connections and broaden your contacts. The virus has made this more difficult, with events now being limited and seminars having moved online, which takes away from the face to face interaction we all love. LinkedIn has become as powerful as ever. I have found myself getting more submerged in my news feed and looking through potential connections. This has proved valuable to many people as it can be a great way to find new connections, and as everyone is in the same boat, it will be much less daunting!

Thinking about how to navigate your career during this time will be tough. I think it’s comforting to believe that everyone is in the same boat. I have even seen a few changes on LinkedIn. I notice many professionals are changing their profile pictures to less formal ones to reflect their current reality of working from home. I think this is a great way to humanise the platform and show others that they’re not alone in this situation.

I believe post-Covid-19 will undoubtedly have its challenges for everyone. I think it’s essential for us to stay as resilient and look to the future positively because everything will go back to normal someday. To me, a career in Communications is a career of communicating effectively. I think this should spill into our personal lives, whereby we check on each other and ensure no one feels alone or lost. The effects of this second lockdown could be catastrophic to people’s mental health. The impacts of self-isolation on top of that are also hard to deal with.

There are many mental health websites and blogs that advise on how you can best keep your mind healthy.

Lauren Simmons is a final year student studying BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at LinkedIn

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