My experience graduating college during the pandemic

Jades talks about the difficulties of graduating and trying to find a job.

Written by Jade Connell Carroll


After three years in college, I have just graduated with a degree in English and History. Although I’m so grateful and excited to have reached this milestone, I initially had many fears about leaving the comforting routine of college and entering a world of uncertainty. Graduating is scary enough as it is but graduating during a worldwide pandemic brings fears and roadblocks I never imagined. However, accepting things as they are and letting go of expectation has helped me to change my mindset and regain some perspective.

Finishing college

For starters, my graduation day looked a lot different than I had always imagined. I walked by the graduation hall everyday during college and imagined the day I would be sitting there surrounded by friends, followed by a big celebration.  However, I ended up graduating from my couch with a few friends and got a virtual scroll. Despite this,  I still managed to make it a memorable day.

I also had many plans for my first year as a graduate, like volunteering at museums, taking up new hobbies, classes in my community and traveling. The silver lining to this unforeseen situation has given me a well needed reminder of life’s unpredictability. Things may not be working out as planned but that doesn’t mean they will never happen.

Adapting to the pandemic

I try to remind myself that these are all things I can do at a later stage. I don’t need to scrap my plans completely, I’ve just adapted them for now. I’ve been exploring more of Ireland, taking free online courses and teaching myself yoga from Youtube videos. These things have been keeping me busy and hopeful while searching for job opportunities. 

Entering the “real world” is daunting enough but job hunting in the midst of COVID can feel pretty disheartening. Sectors are changing, the unemployment rate is high, and we do not know how the virus will impact working life in the long run. Internships are being cancelled and job opportunities are slim. I try to remind myself that finishing college during lockdown means that I have experience with digital learning and this adaptability is something I believe employers will be looking for. 

Dealing with the uncertainty

I have been hoping to find a job in the arts and culture sector. But this industry is suffering so it’s caused me to keep an open mind about the positions I apply for. Instead of waiting for the situation to improve and that “dream job” to appear, I am imagining myself in different roles and other areas where I can apply my skills. These other jobs could end up being the stepping-stones that get me to where I want to be.  

Over time I have realised that these fears I have are familiar. I always feel this insecurity during times of change in my life. I remember feeling so overwhelmed and unprepared finishing school and starting college, but I adapted and eventually thrived. Its helpful to remind myself that although I may not have it all figured out now, I didn’t have it all figured out before the pandemic either.  To everyone in the same position as me, it’s okay to grieve the plans that could have been and to be anxious about the future. Cut yourself some slack and take it day by day. Appreciate how much you have achieved and use this as encouragement that you can adapt to whatever comes next. 

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