Xilian Sansoucy is a student at Northeastern University and former Cengage intern
The reality of working from home has changed how some students view work or the type of work they want to pursue. Being a Northeastern student during the pandemic, I have experienced the migration to working from home while on co-op. One semester later, I experienced the transition to online learning.
Wearing both the “student” and “employee” hats during the pandemic has given me a unique perspective into the migration of both learning and working to a home setting. It has solidified my goals to work in the education technology space, an industry where the pandemic has revealed the importance of integrating technology within education.
So how has the pandemic changed my career path as a student about to graduate?
My Exploration of Career Plans Before COVID
Before COVID, I always had an interest in the education technology space—I just didn’t know how important technology was in education until the pandemic hit. By May 2020, it seemed as though almost overnight, students went from hitting the books to hitting their laptops.
Co-oping at an education technology company throughout the pandemic was an educational experience within itself. I was able to see how drastic the higher education space changed, and what companies like mine were doing to help both instructors and students who were anxious about migrating to remote class formats. Taking online courses at Northeastern after my co-op allowed me to dive into the education technology space as a user, understanding the importance of quality online education on a personal level.
This all led me to where I am heading now: pursuing a larger goal of making an impact on education through technology. However, as a student about to graduate, I’ve learned how certain things I took for granted in my career exploration before COVID may have changed.
5 Ways COVID-19 Affected My Career Plans
1. Travel for work may not be as common or necessary, especially international travel
Business is, without a doubt, being conducted differently. Teams learned how to handle important business calls originally conducted overseas, online. Although events will still likely be in person after the pandemic, other types of meetings have proven to be almost or just as efficient over Zoom, without the cost and time of travel. As an international business major, I had career plans to travel internationally for work. This may not be as likely now.
2. Many teams may be remote… permanently
Although many companies have started to invite employees back into the office, many have chosen to continue to work from home, at least to some extent. Some team members may meet physically while others work remotely, and many companies have been hiring remote employees who live far from their physical offices. This doesn’t allow for the face-to-face communication many students expect at the start of their careers. Luckily, some students have already gotten a glimpse of what it’s like to work remotely through class projects and internships during the pandemic.
3. Changing landscapes within industries
Many industries (think: travel, restaurant, education) have permanently changed employee pathways after COVID. Given that I want to work in the education space, I must think about how that space has shifted due to the pandemic. EdTech has boomed since the pandemic, and fortunately, some EdTech companies are rigorously hiring recent graduates to fill the void from the growth in demand for EdTech products.
4. No need to live near the office
Pre-pandemic, I’ve been asked about where in the world I would like to get a job. This question may not be as relevant now, as I may be able to work from a different region in the world than where the company is located. This was something almost unheard of for entry-level roles pre-pandemic since working remotely was a perk vs. a method for corporate survival.
5. Many are actively seeking employers with hybrid remote working models
After working from home for almost two years, people have become accustomed to their home offices, more quality time with loved ones, and more flexibility to work from anywhere that isn’t, well—home. Many co-workers whom I’ve spoken to swear that they will never go back to working five days a week in the office like they used to. This makes the job application space more competitive because more companies hiring remote employees leads to more competition for certain positions. On the bright side, it also means that college graduates can start applying for positions in places other than where they live.
So, What’s The Verdict?
There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic impacted jobs for individuals and companies alike. However, I have realized that some of these changes I mentioned above have yielded positive outcomes.
The pandemic has shown companies’ true colors; how they adapt or don’t. It has also shown students’ true colors as prospective employees, and how flexible we are willing to be when looking for jobs. I have accepted that it is normal to feel that COVID has affected my mindset about what kind of work I want to do in my career.
As a student about to graduate, I have been prone to self-inflicted pressure to pick the “perfect” job after graduation. The pandemic has taught me how to be resilient and open to change, as these previously mentioned trends affect many employees and potential employees globally.
One recent trend, for example, is the increased value placed on work-life balance now more than ever. I’m not alone either—in addition to questioning their dream jobs, students have changed career paths post-pandemic. In fact, I would argue that it is probably healthy that COVID turned our gears, giving many students like me a reality check on what they really want to do after graduation.
The pandemic has showcased the long-lasting effects of education on multiple stakeholders like students, parents, faculty, administrators, business decision-makers, and governmental figures. COVID has accelerated the high demand for educational products that can help instructors teach their students more effectively, whether that is in-person or remotely. With the pandemic taking a toll on employment and the world recovering from a devastating recession, to me, there is no better time to join the education movement than now.
To learn how students feel about their education and its contribution to their career readiness, check out our 2021 Graduate Employability Report infographic.