Excuse the bad pun but as an Economics student, it was right there, and I had to take it.
So, coming to the topic of today’s blog post, as a first-year student, I’ve been rejoicing but also worrying. Why, you ask? Exams have been cancelled and for my course, the first year doesn’t count towards the final grade of the degree. The only assessment I have left for my first year of university is a bit of existing coursework.
There is the temptation to do nothing and just enjoy the quarantined times by relaxing, reading or watching Netflix. Technically, there would be no consequences if I didn’t bother to study. But thinking about it, how sustainable is it to not be productive for an entire 6 months? Before coronavirus, I had planned to do one or two summer internships, either in the UK or in India. Looking at things now, that doesn’t seem feasible either. So if I’m on holiday from university now until second year, that’s pretty much 6 months of not having anything to do. In the beginning, chilling seems fun but I’m sure to get bored eventually (I already am!).
Two things that I have to keep me going are this blogging job and a research assistantship job that I took up at the department of Economics. Of course, I’ve also got society roles that have me busy preparing for next year. But that’s still not enough to keep me on my toes for six months! Also, when applying for any jobs next year, I believe the key differentiating factor between candidates will be how they spent summer 2020, despite all the constraints posed.
So to help myself and you guys stay motivated, here are some ways you can stay productive from now until summer (assuming this uncertainty remains and your previous plans are off the table!) and how you can improve your productivity growth (pardon me again!):
1. Catch up on missed lectures and study: for first years who no longer have exams, this can seem counterintuitive. But remember why you chose to study your subject and try to reignite that passion and channel it into motivation to study. Luckily, there is no pressure so you can take it at your own pace and learn the content, which will definitely set you up well for second year.
2. Learn a new skill: I am interested in programming and technology so I’m going to use this time to learn some programming by taking a course online. There are tons of options to choose from so find something you like online from Coursera, Khan Academy, Udemy, edX or any other free resource and just learn something new or brush up on something you were already interested in. If you need some inspiration, check out Warwick AI society on Facebook to learn more about AI and how you can develop your skills in this area for your career.
3. Work on ideating: this one is a bit more abstract but will make more sense when you see the fourth point. The world is changing day by day and every sector is facing unprecedented problems. I read a post online that companies such as Uber, Airbnb, Whatsapp and Pinterest were all founded during the 2008 recession. What I got from this fact was that amazing ideas stem from adversity. So if you feel like you can think of something to address a new problem we’re facing today, get cracking and put those thoughts to paper!
4. Start a business! You’ve got some ideas now and you have the passion to see it through. Find some likeminded people or if your idea doesn’t need anyone else besides you to begin, make a clear plan and strategize how you want to work. There are many online resources and books about entrepreneurship to get you started. Dream big but start small and scale up! Being an entrepreneur, especially as a student, is always looked upon favourably so don’t be afraid to use this time effectively!
5. If all of this doesn’t sound like you, there’s something really simple that you can do. Just prepare for second year by thinking of optional modules and what resources you can use to be better equipped for all of your modules, talk to your seniors or even start thinking about a possible future career path. If you’re in your second year, you can start thinking about your dissertation topic for third year by reading some existing literature or exploring any of your current academic interests. Given our current circumstances, futuristic thinking and planning may not always pan out but it doesn’t hurt to do it anyway.
Finally, if you’re an A-levels or IB or basically a high school student, this can be a worrying time but don’t panic and just enjoy your summer before university. If possible within your circumstances, do try to do some work or an internship (probably remotely) but given coronavirus and how it has changed the job market, I wouldn’t worry too much about this. If your exams have been postponed, study a little bit to be prepared for whenever you do have exams. If they are cancelled, don’t worry about how this affects university options and just remember that everyone is going through the same thing and that universities will take all these factors into account when making decisions and adapt to give you the best odds.
Everyone stay safe and keep calm and try to be productive!