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The Power of Connection

You may have heard someone recently say,“ its physical distancing, not social distancing.” While there is truth to that, there is also no denying so much social interaction has been lost due to the Coronavirus and quarantine life. Not only have social interactions greatly declined, but many internships, networking opportunities, and academic opportunities have been postponed or canceled. Even though these circumstances are disappointing, we don’t have to sit on the sidelines until this passes. There are still many ways to stay involved with your community and further your professional goals.

Continue to reach out to the company you planned to work for

If there’s a new job or internship you worked hard to lock down that’s now in question, there are still ways to stay connected! Keep track of how the company is doing and how they have adapted through their website and social media. If you are not quite sure what your position/internship may now look like, reach out! There’s no harm in asking, the response might just take a little longer than expected. Even if a company is not struggling financially, they likely have had to reorganize for remote work as well as adjust to the changes in the economy and what the future might hold, so be a little patient.

Pick up a new professional skill

Even though many campus activities and resume-building events have been canceled, there are a lot of ways to build your resume and grow your expertise online! LinkedIn Learning has courses available for you to learn more about how to be a better professional. Take a few courses and add them to your profile to show employers you care and are interested in improving yourself.

Find a way to get involved in your community

Volunteer work is so important in times like these, and getting involved in your community is much more than just something to add to your resume. Whether it's through an organization or just helping an elderly neighbor get their groceries, doing something for others will give you a sense of purpose and could (safely) get you out of the house a little. Other ways to help may be offering to run social media for a local nonprofit or small company that is struggling, facetiming a child you usually babysit to give their parents a small break, or offering to virtually tutor someone in a subject you excel in.

Make connections by asking for advice

Professionals enjoy helping students, so to maximize your time as a college student now stuck inside, consider reaching out through email to a few successful businessmen and women in a field you are passionate about. Tell them you are a student and were wondering if they would be willing to share how they got to where they are and what advice they might give their younger selves. People love talking about themselves and you might make some valuable connections by showing interest!

Follow a new company or organization online

Maybe you are like me and don’t have an internship or job lined up yet, but are missing the networking opportunities and information sessions that being on campus brought you. Now is a great time to do some research on where you may want to work one day. You can do this through LinkedIn or Handshake, as well as just looking up companies based on your interests. You can also reach out to a fellow Hokie in the professional world and ask how they found the job they have now.

Reach out to a friend this week

Everyone varies in how to connect with friends and family through this time. You may be facetiming people everyday all day, or maybe you have happily settled into minimal social interaction. I personally have been surprised how easily I have settled into a slow social pace of not seeing or talking to friends everyday. No matter what side of the spectrum you are on, it can be good to break routine a little, so I encourage you to reach out to someone you maybe have not talked to in a while! This could mean calling a grandparent, a roommate, a friend from high school, or whoever comes to mind.

Stay positive

The weight of being in the middle of a global pandemic can be heavy sometimes, and it can be frustrating that the best way to help is to essentially sit still. It’s important to stay informed, but don’t let the stats get you down. Put good news into your daily routine! I recommend following Tank’s Good News on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter to get happy stories daily. I also highly encourage you to check out John Krasinski’s new YouTube channel “Some Good News,” where he reports on heartwarming stories of the week, cracks some jokes, and surprises everyday heroes through video calls.

Remember, it's okay if you aren’t productive or social every second of every day.

While this is a great time to utilize online resources and better prepare ourselves for the rest of college and life afterward, its okay if some days you aren’t productive or the only thing accomplished is a Netflix marathon. Just like in a normal week, some days are better than others. Some of the best advice I have ever received is that it’s never too late to start the day over. The beauty of quarantine life is we have more flexibility than normal to do just that. There’s no shame if some days you make your bed and start your work at 7:00PM.

Although we may be physically and geographically distanced, COVID-19 does not have to stop us from connecting with people personally and professionally. Everyone is in the same situation in that none of us have endured a global pandemic before, and in a lot of ways, this means we have more in common with each other than ever before. If we can work hard and help each other out (by physically distancing), we will be back to normal life soon.

By: Grace Farmelo

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