How a Global Pandemic Affected Me: A Senior in College

UCSB Career Peer Advisor, Alexa Honsberger, talks about life as a senior during COVID-19

I am not going to lie to you; I optimistically thought that I would have a “normal” senior year, feeling sorry for those a grade above who did not get to enjoy theirs. Writing this in December, nine months living amidst the invisible threat that is COVID-19, I realize that I was being naive. I will most likely never get to take an in-person class again or study in the eighth floor oceanside room of the Davidson Library or even take Bill’s Bus to go downtown on a Thursday. This sounds like a very upsetting conclusion that I have come to, however, I have had nine months to think about my life and how incredibly different it would be if not for this pandemic.

I think about how challenging it was to transition to online classes and how satisfying it feels now to be comfortable learning online. I am not saying that I like online learning more than in-person learning or that I don’t face challenges anymore, because I definitely do, but the fact that I drastically altered my learning style and feel somewhat acclimated to it is a success in my book. I think about the relationships with my housemates, and how much closer I feel to them because of the time we have all spent together. We created a little family inside our “small,” sixteen-person house on DP. I know that this would not have been the case if everyone was darting off to class or work at different hours of the day. I think about the myriad of professional opportunities available to me because of Zoom and online networking. This has occupied a lot of my mind because I am graduating next year and finding a job is of utmost importance to me right now. Here are 3 lessons I learned about finding opportunities during the pandemic: 

  1. Opportunities still exist but we need to actively look for them. 

I know there are a lot of us out there looking for post-grad employment and even those still in undergrad who are looking for opportunities to build their resumes. It is an intimidating time to be entering the job market. After losing my coaching job because of COVID-19 back in March, I have learned a lot since then about how to find employment and how to improve myself professionally amidst a global pandemic. Although it was difficult to find a job back in March because businesses were still struggling to move to online services, things have changed since then. Yes, many cases are increasing in California and, yes, many counties are moving to more restrictive tiers, however, there are still tons of opportunities out there. Businesses are still hiring people, so do not worry that there are not any employment opportunities out there for you, because there are! Job posting boards, like Handshake, are actively posting about employment opportunities every single day. You have to put in the time to look and apply. 

  1. Online networking is a powerful tool.

Another incredibly valuable lesson that I have learned is the power of online networking. Employees are much more tied to their desks and computers while working from home, so it is much easier to get in contact with people. I have found that scheduling and coordinating informational interviews are much easier. There are more virtual career fairs taking place, which are much more inclusive because it is easier for company representatives to attend without the need to be in person. I attended the annual UCSB Greek Interconnect networking event and had the opportunity to talk with professionals calling in from places all over the world. I would have never had the opportunity to speak with half of the people at the event if it were not for Zoom. Virtual networking is also beneficial for those who may be new to networking. Meeting in person with a professional in a field of interest can be intimidating, so being able to meet with them over the phone or via Zoom can mollify the situation and make it easier to step outside of your comfort zone.

  1. Practice compassion and utilize resources. 

This pandemic has greatly affected our lives as college students, some more closely affected than others. It has changed the course of our time here at UCSB and that is something that should not be overlooked or forgotten. School has not halted for us; we have had to keep studying and we have had to keep pushing through it, which is admirable. The fact that everyone that we know at UCSB has been affected in different ways by the same pandemic is overwhelming, but also significant. This is a time when community should be the most valuable thing, even if we cannot demonstrate its power in person. We must use this time to practice compassion, to learn with and from one another. I encourage you to use the resources offered to you and to lean on the relationships that you have in order to make it through this pandemic.

UCSB Career Services is an incredible resource for those who want professional and career assistance, so do not be afraid to reach out and utilize its resources. Career Peers and Counselors are here to help all students through this trying time and I am so grateful to be a part of an organization that is actively supporting us while we live in this new virtual world.

About the author: Alexa Honsberger, fourth year, soon-to-be graduating senior. She is Career Peer Advisor for UCSB Career Services and an assistant for Carol Huang, Education + Human Services Career Path Counselor. Alexa sources jobs & internships and special events for Career Path newsletters as well as supports career services initiatives related to Education + Human Services.