Navigating life and career in a post-pandemic world isn’t easy.
Today’s Gen-Zers, or ‘Generation Resilient,’ as they are starting to be called, has already experienced major challenges in their education, employment, health and societal expectations. Not unlike the Greatest Generation, these young people are growing up during a time of unrest and rapid change—and it’s accelerating their maturity.
Three young people—Katherine Oung, Ibraheem Moosa and Ahmad Khalil—recently shared their experiences with their internship program going virtual for 2020. Today, they and Bank of America Charitable Foundation President Kerry Sullivan are back with advice for young people who are facing an uncertain future—and the rest of us should also lend an ear. Here’s what they had to share.
Focus on the skills employers need
“Employers are looking for flexibility, an optimistic attitude and a team-oriented mindset,” says Sullivan. “A ‘can-do’ attitude can really make all the difference in this new environment, and that’s a valuable takeaway for the future, too.”
Take that summer job seriously
If you’re lucky enough to have had a job this summer, remember it’s more than just a paycheck. “Beyond career benefits, summer jobs can also help young people build applicable real-life skills such as time management, money management as they receive what may be their first paychecks, self-confidence and a greater sense of personal responsibility,” says Sullivan.
Remember what you have to give
“I really believe that kids in my generation have a ton of talent,” says Oung. “I hope that my friends who are at the tail end of college or are graduating remember that they have a lot to offer and their talents are important and needed in today’s workforce.” Sullivan adds, “While our hope is that these students learn a lot from the program, each year, there is so much that we learn from them.”
Don’t wait to start your career
“You’re not too young to get into the professional world now,” says Oung. “Apply to internship positions that might be available in your area—you never know who they might be looking for and you might be a good fit for that role.”
Follow your passion
“If a career prospect is something that you are genuinely passionate about, then you will inherently try and work harder to scale the market ladder,” says Khalil. “Although it may seem difficult in today’s tough hiring market, if you choose something that is tailored to your interests, following that career path will not feel like a job, but just another addition to your passion for the field.”
See opportunity in everything
“Having the right mindset is not all you need for a successful career, but it is a large aspect, and more importantly one that you have control of,” advises Moosa. “Especially during this pandemic, this may be hard advice to follow, but understanding that both good and bad things eventually come to an end is imperative. Being prepared for the future and having the right mindset will allow you to see opportunity in everything, including failure.”
“The most important thing for young adults right now is adaptability and knowing that even if their first job experience isn’t perfect—or if they can’t find one—they can still set themselves up for success,” says Sullivan. “In this new normal, young people have shown themselves to be incredibly adaptable.”
“Never to turn down an opportunity and make the best out of every opportunity that is given to you,” says Khalil. “Your hard work and dedication may ultimately decide your future in the hiring market and in your career.”
Keep your options open
“This pandemic has put a lot of things into perspective for me and my future,” says Oung. “Instead of just focusing on high school and getting into college, I’m now considering all of my career options once that time comes.”
Keep moving forward
“I’d encourage young people to remain focused on their goals and focus on building upon their experiences and skills,” says Sullivan. “Things like volunteering virtually or continuing to grow their network can go a long way in setting them up for what opportunities the future may present.”
Above all, be optimistic
Young people have reason for optimism, as the challenges of a post-pandemic world give them a stage to develop their innate talents and abilities. Sullivan admires the grit demonstrated by the Student Leaders participants and others in ‘Generation Resilient.’ “Despite facing significant challenges as they embark on their careers, we are seeing their motivation, creativity and optimism shine through.”