By: Peer Career Coach Yunuen Rodriguez

It’s been almost three months since we first heard about the COVID-19 outbreak and the social isolation measures that were implemented for the public’s safety. People have been laid off from work, numerous lives have been lost, and many have been struggling to maintain good mental health. In other words, it has been an emotional rollercoaster. However, despite the challenges we’ve been faced with, there are ways you can benefit from this pandemic, especially if you’re a college student. 

 Before I go into detail about using this economic recession to your advantage, it’s important to recognize that you still have your entire life ahead of you. You may still be figuring out what you want to major in, what you like/ dislike, what your strengths and weaknesses are and how to leverage them, what you look for in a company, and what you want to dedicate your life to. You may have heard from many gurus and entrepreneurs to “Think positive” and to “Make your side hustle your full-time job.” Although there are good intentions behind such messages, it’s not always possible to live up to such expectations, and I want to remind you that it’s ok to take a break. With that being said, allow me to share my two main self-care tips:

Don’t become a victim of toxic positivity.

If you’re not familiar with this term, it’s when you dismiss or reject any negative emotions and only focus on the positive aspect of situations. You may want to avoid such feelings because they’re “bad”, but at the end of the day, they’re emotions. Don’t confuse this with optimism, they’re two different concepts, but when it gets to a point where you suppress emotions such as anger or sadness, then that’s what we would call toxic positivity. It may sound like “Look on the bright side,” “You’re being so negative,” “It could be worse.” Remember, we are in the middle of a pandemic, and it is not easy to cope with our new normal. 

Take a break.

Various individuals may be hustling, working on projects that they’ve been delaying for months, learning a new technical skill, investing in stocks, starting a podcast, or receiving certificates of completion on Coursera, but that does not mean you are behind. Prioritize your well-being and then start working on the projects you’ve been wanting to do for so long.

Now, moving on to the next part, which is the main focus of this blog post, here are my tips on how to use COVID-19 to your advantage. 

Work on yourself.

This may sound like an additional self-care tip to the ones I’ve previously mentioned, but no matter where you are in life, the relationship that you should always prioritize is the one with yourself. Use this time in quarantine to gain self-awareness and identify your strengths because if you’re actively searching for jobs, one of the frequently asked questions in job interviews is “What is your greatest strength?” If you don’t know what it is, I encourage you to take the Strengths Quest assessment, which is free to anyone who is currently an IIT student. Here is the link: https://iit.gallup.com/signin/default.aspx#home 

Enroll in a free online course.

Have you always wanted to learn a new coding language? Or maybe you’ve always wanted to learn more about digital marketing? Well, you’re in luck! Google Digital Garage, Harvard University, and Coursera offer a variety of free online courses where you can gain certificates for completing a specific course. Here are the links for you to check out:

Design your own research study.

You may not know everything about your area of study or have a clue as to where you should start, but that doesn’t mean you can’t design your own research study. There are many professors that would be willing to help you design and implement it. If you’re a psychology major like me, this is a great project to work on during quarantine and improve your research skills. If you plan on conducting surveys, there are student organizations at IIT that you can reach out to to help you collect your data. If you’re not familiar with the student organizations at the university, I recommend looking at HawkLink (https://hawklink.iit.edu/organizations).

Polish up your resume and cover letter.

Are you having trouble starting your resume and what you should include? Does your cover letter need to be reviewed to make sure it’s written to the best of your abilities? Don’t worry! Career Services is here to help you gather your materials for your job search. You can schedule an appointment with a Career Coach via Handshake or come during our virtual drop-in hours on Blackboard (https://us.bbcollab.com/guest/f4434adf1ad3442a8b7a89919fbff3fa). 

Hope this helps! 

Using COVID19 to Your Advantage