It can feel like we’re in a big long season of waiting. But what do we do with that? Susannah explores…

When I was a kid, the run up to Christmas was so full of anticipation I could pop. I loved that ‘getting ready’. Since then, I’ve also had some really tough and challenging Christmas seasons too. Whatever you’re facing this year, please know you’re not alone in it, and if you need help, reach out.

People react to ‘waiting’ differently. I have an older sister who eats all her advent calendar chocolates on 1st December, and if she finds a gift, she’s unwrapped it within the hour. I’d probably not call this waiting!

I’m probably the opposite; savouring and revelling in the hope of what’s to come. When it comes to Christmas, at least…

This year, however, is a whole different ball game when it comes to waiting. It’s thrown at us more than we could expect. I don’t know about you, but waiting may be a state I’ve spent much of this year in; waiting for the Government briefings, waiting for lockdown to ease, waiting to be able to see others, and still waiting to give my parents a hug. Waiting for summer, and now waiting for Christmas.

I guess your career life might feel a bit like that too. Waiting for replies from job applications, waiting for interviews, waiting for outcomes. Waiting for an opening for you to take a promotion opportunity, waiting for the right job, the right time… even if you’re in a job at the moment, if it’s remote you may have to spend longer waiting for a reply from colleagues who you’re used to talking to in the office for an immediate response.

How does waiting feel for you? What makes waiting easier, or more difficult? Do you think the old adage is true that a known length of wait is easier than an unknown time of waiting?

Sometimes waiting can be exciting, like the wait for lockdown easing. Sometimes, waiting can be really heavy, and uncomfortable.

Waiting for the outcome of an interview can sit somewhere weirdly in the middle. I often hear people say ‘I don’t care the outcome, I just want to know’ – the wait can be excruciating. You’ve spent so many hours preparing, researching, and getting ready, that even if you were unsure about the job to begin with, you’ve had to convince yourself that it’s the perfect role, in order to be able to do a good interview. Then you have to wait to find out your fate.

Class of 2020 – my heart goes out to you especially. You’ve hit one of the most challenging job markets in a very long time. You’ve got a gold star in waiting; for your graduation, for your first job, and for all the firsts that follow. But my goodness the resilience you’re building is something beautiful. Wear your ‘class of 2020’ status like a badge. You have survived 100% of your days, and you’re still going! Things haven’t been easy, but you’ve persevered.

Current students; I’m sure you might be having the extra ‘waiting’ of waiting to see what the world will look like when you finish University. The last year has shown the unpredictable nature of this world, so whilst I wouldn’t dare guess what it’ll look like, I will promise you that wherever the world is at, we’ll be here ready to support you. Throughout your time as a student and for 3 years post-graduating, we’ll be here for you with all of our services, and then you’ll still have access to our Online Hub resources for life.

What can I do in the waiting season?

This is the key question. ‘It’s not what happens to you, but how you respond to it that really counts’.

This global pandemic has been tough. You need to be kind to yourself in that, and know you’re likely doing the best you can. But also, the nature of it being a global pandemic means that everyone has been through it. There will come a time when ‘but… the pandemic…’ won’t be an excuse, and you’ll be asked how you used this time. If you’re starting to panic, don’t. I’ve got your answer sorted with five ideas below, but it may mean a little less Netflix, and a little more self-motivation to go for it. I know you can.

  1. Get job-ready. If you’ve just begun studying with us or you’ve graduated, it’s never too late or early. Get yourself on to the Careers & Enterprise Hub, and check out CV360, and Interview360.
  2. Come to some workshops! These are a great way to get you thinking about your career, or just where you’re at right now. They offer insight and inspiration, and might help motivate you to do other things too! Within our workshop schedule, we have Microsoft Specialist workshops; Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Outlook. If you complete 3 out of the 4 workshops and their corresponding exams, you can call yourself a Microsoft Specialist on your CV/ LinkedIn. We now also have Expert sessions available for the next step up! This is a great way to show you’ve used this waiting time well.
  3. Dig into some volunteering. It’s great for your CV, but also nothing makes you feel better than giving back. Telephone befrienders are so important in the midst of this time; offering to call someone on a regular basis. Alternatively, there are a range of opportunities for one-off or ongoing commitments with a range of times. Do look and see what’s available. (and if you already volunteer, don’t forget to log your hours so you can work towards your certificates!)
  4. Look after yourself. Eating properly, sleeping properly and getting daily exercise. As we reach the shortest day of the year, and the colder weather continues, this may get more of a challenge. Get the basics right, and you’ll find the rest of life that bit easier. Get the basics wrong, and everything becomes more of a challenge, physically and emotionally.
  5. Look after those around you. Is there someone you know who needs a little coaxing to go out for a walk? Why not invite them to come with you, or suggest you meet somewhere?

So, there’s my 5 ideas for making the most of your waiting time. This waiting time will end. The lockdowns will one day be for history books, and you will get a job. But remember this time. Remember those who may feel isolation as their normal, and remember those who might then be searching for work. If you can lend a hand then, please do.

Look after yourself, look after others, look after your future.

Also, if you’re graduating in 2021, and you’re wanting to stay in Kent & Medway, and open to working in a Small to Medium sized Enterprise (SME), then it would be very wise for you to sign up to GradForce! Find out more and sign up here.

If you have any more ideas for others, feel free to add them in the comments below.

Getting further support from The Careers and Enterprise Team at CCCU

You can get ongoing careers support via the following ways: