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5 Survival Tips for Fresh Grads During the Economic Downturn

Aka Chung
April 28, 2020
Last updated on
March 13, 2024


2020 has been tough for everyone, especially for newbies to the job market.

Thanks to Coronavirus, companies including leading corporates in almost every sector have announced WFH (work from home) policies along with a nightmare for fresh graduates - freezing headcounts. It’s frustrating to graduate from school with the burning aspiration of ambition in your chest only to find out that the economic downturn has shot your dreams down.

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Life must go on. Cliche but true!

Yuen Kwok-Yung (Chinese: 袁國勇) GBS JP, a Hong Kong microbiologist who is well-known for his research on SARS, predicted that the Coronavirus will not disappear before the year-end. While sitting around waiting for the economic recovery seems impracticable, investing in yourself is the only legitimate way to get the most out of your time in quarantine. Here are some ideas for your reference, to value add yourself and be ready when opportunity knocks.

1) Keep a close eye on different job boards

We understand you may have been shot down so many times that you don’t believe there are job openings out there anymore, but that is not the case! You just need to look in the right place. Recruitment firms and job boards always have the most up-to-date information on the job market. Wantedly has consolidated a list of companies that are still hiring, to help support those looking for work during the current epidemic. Nevertheless, try searching the hashtag #WeAreHiring on Linkedin, you might be surprised!

2) Start your own start-up

I bet you must have come up with several business ideas, at some point when you were still in school. What made you let go of those brilliant ideas? Maybe it’s because you have never taken them seriously, or maybe you have tried to execute but they just don’t work, or maybe, now is the right time to fix, improve and implement your ideas.

Building your own start-up not only helps to polish your CV, but you can also develop your project management skills, including leadership skills, budgeting, risk management, etc.

Having accomplished project management skills allows you to out-perform your peers in a rounded perspective. Not to mention your start-up may become the next Facebook or Apple. Who knows?

3) Apply for internships

Companies are freezing headcounts in regular hiring, but not the internships. They usually are more open to internship offerings now than before as interns with less or no working experience are a more affordable source of the labor force compared to the general hirings.

While it is true that internships are usually low paid, sometimes even unpaid, the benefits you could possibly get from an internship go beyond money, especially when your internship boss is good at providing mentorship. You can gain a better understanding of what is an ideal career for you and thus make a better choice in your career path. Reference letters are often given out as proof of your contributions which can help with your job searching in the future.

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Also Read:The Hong Kong Crisis: Why Fresh University Graduates Are Earning Too Little For What Their Education Is Worth

4) Learn the right skills to become future-proof

Dig deep into the reasons for your recent unemployment. Is it purely because of the external factors of the market, or is it something you have neglected within yourself? You might have to take this time to investigate what are the right skills to acquire, and more importantly, how to obtain them to begin with.

The major challenges that Coronavirus is bringing to the world are not limited to our health and wellbeing, but also to the technology front. Digitisation has been the hottest research headline as an idea for a long time, but now it has become the hottest way of actually running an operation.

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Every industry is migrating to digital platforms, searching for the right tools to facilitate online coordination of operations. Digitization is unstoppable. Are you confident that you can survive in the world after the virus with your existing skill set? Sow nothing, reap nothing. To remain competitive, upskilling should be your choice. Xccelerate offers courses in cutting edge skills, go check it out!

5) Volunteering

It’s very crucial to understand what employers are looking for when they interview a recent graduate. Apparently, they are not searching for seniors with years of working experience. HR professionals suggest that students with fewer internship experience will still get offers if they have an outstanding record of volunteer service or smart travel experience. No matter if it is an internship, volunteering or traveling, they all demonstrate the out-campus involvement of the candidates, which potentially indicate a higher maturity level of the graduate. For now, traveling is merely impossible and internships are rare. Volunteering shall be the lower hanging fruit that everyone can opt for.

Life is a horse, and either you ride it or it rides you.

Try harder before you blame Moirai. The above are just some of the suggestions for everyone, but you would know better than us on how to improve yourself. Polish yourself when it is low tide so that you can ride the wind and waves later on.

To further support, Xccelerate is now offering a FreshTech scholarship to sponsor 50% of the tuition fee for fresh graduates that are interested in our full-time career-changing program. Gain job-ready software engineering/ data science and machine learning skills in 4 months!

We wish you all a brilliant summer.

Xccelerate Student Stories:Xccelerate Stories: Switching Keyboards , Xccelerate Stories: From HR to Tech Star

Also Read:How To Become a Software Engineer in Hong Kong , How To Get a Software Developer Job Without Computer Science Degree

Need more advice?

If you are at a choice point in your career and need someone to help you navigate professional challenges. You can make an appointment to our complimentary 1-on-1 Career Consultation and receive personalised career advice.