What Will A Career In Communications Look Like Post Covid-19?

What Will A Career In Communications Look Like Post Covid-19?

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

Is Freelancing the Answer? This is My Journey.

Is Freelancing the Answer? This is My Journey.

On the 27th Of August, I finished my placement year at Invest Northern Ireland. I was a Communications Assistant in the Communications Team and did various work for the team’s different divisions. During the first six months, my work mostly consisted of building, writing stories, and publishing for the internal newsletter, Newsweekly. I also did some work for the PR team writing press releases and Twitter posts. In the final six months of my placement, I was given control over the Innovation Accreditation Twitter account and learned how to manage a corporate social media platform fully. I was delighted for this project to land on my desk because I knew it was a precious experience that could put me in good stead for the future.

My placement was filled with both exciting and challenging times. Covid-19 hit during the seven-month mark of my placement, and I was lucky enough that Invest NI had a plan set in place to allow employees to continue their work from home. This worked out perfectly for me as I was able to visit my boyfriend in Manchester and stay for much more extended periods. I was in Manchester when the travel ban hit, so suddenly, I lived permanently with him and his family during a pandemic. It was a scary time because I didn’t know how long I would be over for and integrate well into the household. Thankfully, there was nothing to worry about as everything went super smoothly!

The end of my placement was fast approaching, and I was worried about what I would do to earn an income to cover my bills. My friends and I signed for a house in Belfast, and the rent was coming out every month, eating away at my overdraft – so I needed to find something quick!

I looked at what my friends were doing, and many of them were working in bars or doing home care. I couldn’t drive, so home care was out. And the thought of drunk people shouting at me was a scary thought, so I had a sit down to look at some options. I thought, why not have a go at freelancing and put the skills I learned at placement to fair use? I spent about twenty minutes looking through freelancing websites and tried one called Upwork, which promised to be the best out there. I joined and applied to every job I seen that I was qualified for. After one week of consistently applying to jobs on Upwork, I won zero. I then took a step back and looked at my second option, a website called Peopleperhour. I set up an account and applied to my first job, which required one 800 word article to be written for £10. Within about half an hour, I heard back from the client that they had accepted my proposal. The excitement this brought me was crazy; although I wasn’t making much money for the time I would spend on the article, the fact I had gained work on my own gave me such a buzz.

Since then, the relationship with the client continued and turned into more orders. They even helped me out with my pricing and gave me some great business advice! I applied to a few more jobs on Peopleperhour, I won some and I lost some. I loved the freedom this website gave me and the opportunities to connect with people all over the country.

The most significant turning point in my journey was when I made a LinkedIn post recommending the website to anyone who was in the same position as me and I did a little shameless self-promo. The response was something I could never have expected. I had people messaging me about my freelancing!!! I couldn’t believe it; I managed to schedule calls with four business owners. This has to be the most daunting thing I have ever done, but I got through it, and each business owner converted into a paying client!

I was now fully working for myself, doing what I love, and helping SME businesses in the process. If there is one thing I have learned during the process, it would be to slip in what you do everywhere you can to everyone you can. A quick example of this is when I was recently chatting during a new instructor’s driving lesson. I dropped in that I was Managing a few social media accounts for SMEs alongside my final year at University. The driving instructor immediately explained how he had needed someone to get his social media off the ground as his school is rapidly growing. I suggested we have a chat about what I could do for him, and we have agreed to schedule a call.

I hope to continue freelancing alongside my degree and sign more clients when I graduate. If you’re thinking of putting the skills you’ve learned during placement or your course into practise and want to dive into working for yourself, then I couldn’t recommend it more – why not go for it? If I can do it, I promise, you can too.

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