2020 was always set to be a year of changes for me, but not for the same reasons it is turning out to be. This was the final year of my degree at Birkbeck University of London, that didn’t change. The amount of time I spent at University, how I finished my course and the time with my friends is what changed dramatically.
The disruption started with the welcome early return of Nathan from his Yacht-master fast track course. The un-house trained nature of the other candidates on the course finally beat him. After spending two weeks solid in a small floating caravan with them he took the tough decision to walk away with his Coastal Skipper qualification and come home. That is another story completely and not mine to tell.
Soon after Nathan’s return from Gibraltar in late January the real interruption to my final year began. The lecturers, for the second time in my three year course, went on strike. The strike effectively stripped out all but the last two weeks of classes. Those, too, were destined to be cancelled by something far more destructive than a strike. Coronavirus. For me, like almost everyone in the world, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has meant staying at home. As a final year student most of my academic needs should have been served by the library, meetings with my study groups, project supervisors and lecturers. None of that really happened; the library was closed, no one travelled into London and the few online sessions we had were plagued by poor IT set ups. I can’t complain though. Unlike a number of my student friends I am blessed with a peaceful house, supportive husband and fab garden. I managed to get all my final pieces of coursework in and polished without having to invoke the universities ‘no-detriment’ policy – which effectively guarantees a pass at the level you have been performing at, so long as you submit something. Great for those struggling to cope with the worldwide changes.
Having been blessed with my surroundings and supportive family I have achieved what I have always thought impossible: a first class honours degree.
Now some twenty plus weeks into lock-down and twelve weeks since final submissions I am pottering around my blessed surroundings, tending to homegrown fruit and veg and searching LinkedIn daily for any glimmer of my entry point back into professional life.
I knew when I took the decision to go back to studying that it might be difficult to re-enter the work force, but searching for the right job in this climate is proving harder than I could ever have imagined. The opportunities are out there, but they are few and far between. Aside from a very small handful of roles which I immediately get excited about applying for I find myself considering roles which I just know I can do. They are not the roles I went to university to be able to compete for and I am not even getting invited for interview for them. Some just disappear into the ether, others are withdrawn and the rest are so fiercely competed I am filtered out before the first round.
There are sparks of light: one of the exciting roles did result in a first round interview just this morning.
I know I will find the role I am destined for and in the mean time my fruit and veg, leather working, mask making, coding skills, google analytics, editing, oh and my own writing can take centre stage.