On July 9th, 2020 I had the opportunity to attend a webinar entitled Economic Impacts of COVID-19 on Youth Employment. This event was hosted by TakingITGlobal and the United Nations Association of Canada. The webinar focused on the potential impacts that COVID-19 will have on youth seeking employment in the near future, as and offered tangible and accessible tips to stand out in a job application.

Dr. Alina Turner, the co-founder and CEO of HelpSeeker, explains that due to COVID-19, there has been an “increase in demand for mental health support but the inability to always meet such demands”. As such, many youth seeking employment, as well as those already holding steady jobs, find it increasingly difficult to obtain the mental health support that is needed. COVID-19 has presented a unique set of challenges and difficulties which has increased the need for mental health resources and support. However, there has simultaneously been a push to move mental health to the backburner as physical health concerns have grown. Dr. Turner explains that such mental health challenges have made it even more difficult for youth to find employment.

Despite the challenges that have formed as a result of the pandemic, youth continue to display resilience and motivation in the face of disruption. While it is not easy to enter the job market with an uncertain economy or a lack of mental health support, many youth continue to demonstrate resilience and strength despite it all. Dr. Turner admits that the job hunt in the time of a pandemic and economic uncertainty is not easy but that youth are innovative and are “finding ways to support adaptation to destruction”. As such, youth continue to advocate for one another and are sharing their resilience with the world.

Image: Prexels

Although there are countless negatives of COVID-19, Kylie Hurst, a manager of You.i TV and an employment branding specialist, shares some of the positive workplace changes that have resulted due to COVID-19. These positive changes include:

– Diversity and inclusion call-out

– Location barriers removed with the increase in remote jobs and education

– Personal barriers removed with the increase in remote jobs and education (childcare, time of day, cost)

– Embracing individuality

These changes are all important and allow for increased access to employment, inclusion, and involvement that may have been lacking prior to COVID-19. With the rise of ZOOM meetings and online classes, education and employment are becoming more accessible to more individuals across the country.

In addition to the positive changes that may help youth in regards to employment, Hurst also shares some tips on how to standout in the job market. These tips include:

– Everything is an online business card, so make your online presence accessible and engaging (Portfolio, LinkedIn, etc.)

– Looking for a job is a full-time job: make a plan, organize, track, and update regularly

– Socialize on social: use social media platforms to connect with individuals who may help you (alumni networks, virtual events, etc.)

–  Build your resume: If you are fortunate and have been given additional free time as a result of COVID-19, use that time wisely to gain new credentials and experiences

Searching for a job can be intimidating and challenging, particularly with the lack of mental health support, the uncertainty of the economy, and for youth just entering the workforce. However, these tips should help to point you in the right direction. Resiliency is critical when searching for employment and embracing your individuality will set you on the right path for your future career.

By Sophia Tran

“You know what I got out of that internship? Terror. Absolute fear of spending the rest of my life looking like the people at the company.” I sat shocked at this admission as I listened to my friend share their working experience with me. 

  In the past year I have started to take notice of the relationships in the workplace. As an intern myself, I am incredibly appreciative of the opportunity to develop my professional experience while still in school. As I listened to my peers share their own experiences as interns, I realized that there seems to be a strong disconnect of corporate engagement and culture between interns and working professionals. Many seemed to be disillusioned by their experiences and often it brings a sense of despair and fear of the reality after leaving school. 

The result? Many are rejecting incredible job offers at these companies and are either choosing to continue pursuing graduate degrees or taking job positions that have fewer financial benefits but bring more sense of purpose and joy. In the U.S the number of graduate students have tripled since the 1970s and according to some estimates, 27% of employers now require master’s degrees for roles in which historically undergraduate degrees sufficed (HBR). 

The problem is that it might not be at no fault of each generation but of the situational circumstances that each era experiences in their own lifetime. Likewise, it seemed that many of the older working professionals  (baby boomers and Gen X) that I speak with are struggling to adapt and understand the millennial generation who are slowly growing in numbers in their company. 

I believe that companies have the principles and values that the millennial workforce are looking for yet fall short of recognizing and presenting the importance of the purpose in their work as well as the company’s care to continue to cultivate their employee’s success in a way that would energize and engage them.  Similarly, the millennial generation is incredibly sharp with the potential to persevere and add value to these companies, yet again fall short of displaying it. What can we do? How can we learn to find the excitement and joy in our working experiences while putting our best foot forward in these companies, showing them our fullest potential without feeling that our shortcomings are due to the lack of a graduate degree?

“Seek first to understand, then to be understood” – Stephen Covey

What we can do as the millennial generation  is to take that step forward and learn to understand ourselves better as a person in order to better communicate between generations in a way for others to see our potential and overall enhance our experience with others. In my next posts over the following weeks, I’ll be going through Harvard Business Review’s 10 Must Reads On Managing Yourself, which compiles articles focused on providing you the resources to tap into yourself to develop the habits of success and navigate your own personal life and avoiding decisions that undermine your goals in life. Learning how to self-manage yourself is an incredible tool to use (especially in this pandemic) to advance your growth and learn about the business environment. The book will cover how you can create positive influences on others, overcoming tough obstacles, leading a balanced life and much more.

 Sometimes one of the most difficult things about life is finding our purpose and the things that make us happy in our career, sometimes it just takes a little nudge to get us started on the right path. Everyone wants to lead a happy and fulfilling life, yet many do not reach that point in their career or cannot seem to maintain that balance. How will YOU fill out in your “Happiness is when…”? 

When you’re a kid, you probably don’t realize the value of a dollar. My parents weren’t rich, but they were comfortable enough so that I didn’t have to work to get most of what I wanted. Even when my mom lost her job, she was able to bounce back into another completely different field. She ended up quitting that and now works in sales and makes more than we ever have before. I watched her struggle but didn’t really have to experience it. I felt bad at times when I’d watch my stepsisters juggle school and work because their mom is a teacher and couldn’t afford to give them a lot of money. If they wanted money, they earned it. I never realized that my life wasn’t like that when I was younger. 

When I got to college, things changed a bit. I finally decided I wanted to work because I had my schedule and I felt like I was ready for the next step. I had wanted to work in high school but hadn’t had a lot of luck, which ironically was a trend for my older brother and I. We were both interested in working but it just didn’t work out due to a lack of time, and my brother never heard back from the job he applied to. 

I applied for a job at a grocery store and got it. I didn’t really know how to start; I wasn’t used to working, or constant discipline. I was horrible back then and sometimes I hated myself for not getting work right away. There was pressure to be good at the job, and even though I tried to give myself credit for being new, it was difficult for a while. However, I got better over time and eventually decided to work for my friends’ parents’ yogurt shop in the same plaza. This is where I feel like I started learning the value of a dollar. I saw my money slipping away because I didn’t know how to manage my money. After I left the grocery job, I stayed with the yogurt shop for a few more months. I was able to keep my routine of trying to save money, and though it wasn’t perfect, I stopped wasting a lot of money on stuff I didn’t need. I was able to save my money and prepare for an emergency.

When I had planned to start at UCSB, thyroid cancer caused me to go into treatment and defer a quarter. I didn’t work during that time or during my first UCSB quarter. To be honest, I hated it. I was bored and hated asking my parents for money. When I got a new job as a cashier I became happier; I craved the independence of working, as making my own money is so rewarding to me. I worked two jobs again for a while until I left the cashier job to focus on school and other commitments. Recently, I found out they were laying off my department at my job at the mall because the mall closed. I was already home but fully expecting to go back and it threw a wrench in my plans, making coming back to UCSB almost unnecessary. 

I didn’t know what to do. I was back home and had no money coming in. I only had school to look forward to. I’m glad I don’t work now because I wouldn’t have the time, but a few weeks ago it was a hard adjustment. I was used to working. I filed for unemployment and was luckily approved, and although I was grateful for the government help, I miss the independence that comes with leaving the house and going to work, talking with people, making friends you wouldn’t know otherwise, and being able to learn new things about the workforce. For me, the ability to work equals the ability to have independence. You can make new friends and people rely on you for something, but you can decide what sort of job you do. Also, when you make your own money, people can’t tell you how to spend it.

One thing I noticed is that I’ve actually been pretty good with my money. Ironically, I’m trying to be careful because I don’t get a stimulus check and I want to prepare for an emergency. I have a lot saved and am trying to not spend too much, save what I spent for my laptop which was a necessity. I’m shocked at how well I’m doing. When I least expect it, I’m dealing with money pretty well and I’m as ready as I can be if an emergency arises. I hope I can keep going when this is all over. 

How fortunate is it that I am still allowed to go to work during this pandemic? I am deemed an ‘essential employee’ – laughs – in this time of crisis, though I am nothing more than a barista at my local drive-thru only coffee shop. Fortunately, my risk of exposure to COVID-19 is very low. I get to come to work and see my friends, talk with my favorite customers, share a cup of joe with those who need it most, and fill my day with smiles, laughs and, most importantly, caffeine.  

If I am so fortunate, though, why do I feel so cheated by the CERB?  

The Canadian Emergency Response Benefit, or CERB, is absolutely necessary during COVID-19. $2000 every four weeks will help Canadians pay for the necessities of life and will lead to a faster economic recovery once the pandemic settles down. The importance of this plan cannot be understated, and the speed and efficiency that the CERB has been implemented is remarkable. However, for essential employees who continue to put themselves in harm’s way during this pandemic, the lack of benefits received is truly unfortunate. 

                       

Take grocery store workers. The tireless work of these employees has been a sight to behold since the pandemic started, and how important they are to the community has been exposed in full. Heaps of praise for their hard work has been rightfully given, but the fact remains that they are overworked and overexposed to COVID-19. They are in desperate need of more help, as ads plastered over social media social-media saying “Join Our Team” indicate, but ask yourself this: would you really want to work for $2500 a month while risking serious exposure to a terrible disease when you could stay home and earn $2000 a month? Countless Canadians are currently at home, able to work, but the risk of exposure to COVID-19 can hardly justify earning an extra $500 a month. There may be those who disagree, and that is entirely their judgement call to make, but I know personally that such an offer would not entice me towards applying.

These are essential employees, among countless others, who are facing the pandemic head-on and providing the best services they can at the time when we need them the most. And while praise and thanks are absolutely necessary (and thankfully being given out by millions of gracious Canadians), these people deserve more. 

Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh has proposed that the eligibility criteria be dropped for those applying to the CERB so that everyone who needs help will get access to the CERB (Campbell, 2020). His proposal included recently-graduated students, previously unemployed Canadians and people who earned less than the $5000 application minimum over the previous 12 months (Campbell, 2020). While I agree with all these above, I also believe that the CERB should be available to those who are still working. I think it is safe to say that those who are putting themselves on the frontlines of this pandemic everyday deserve more than just heartfelt thanks from Canadians; they deserve financial support during this time. Allowing a universal application for the CERB would provide every Canadian a hand up in this trying time while providing a financial incentive for those of us who are fortunate enough to continue being employed. Every Canadian would stay financially afloat, and those who can work would be incentivized to do so. While unquestionably costly to the Canadian government, it is a cost that would keep the economy going, help to build a stronger foundation for the post-COVID recovery and, most importantly, would help those who deserve it the most. 

Reference: 

Campbell, C. (April 11, 2020). Burnaby’s Jagmeet Singh demands Trudeau ‘scrap’ CERB criteria. Burnabynow. https://www.burnabynow.com/news/burnaby-s-jagmeet-singh-demands-trudeau-scrap-cerb-criteria-1.24116538

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