There are more than enough articles about Covid, but I wanted to use this opportunity to break down the positives of being a student during the peak of the pandemic. The pandemic affected just about everything we knew in our world; every aspect of life was adjusted to some extent. Now 2 years later we are still dealing with those effects while trying to adjust back to our “new normal”. I think one aspect overlooked is how college students have been affected and what the future holds for us who learned in a completely new environment.
In the beginning, all of us were still in our denial phase of not believing Covid was really going to stop the world as it did. Once it became clearer what was happening, I was already transported back to my childhood bedroom in Pittsburgh, and I was all of a sudden downloading an app called Zoom. Oh, how I wish I could go back to the days when I did not know what Zoom was. Fast forward, it’s senior year and I’m graduating college in a few weeks. As my college time ends, I have begun searching for jobs and I thought it would be tough given my lack of experience due to the conditions of the pandemic, but I soon realized I could not be further from the truth. This generation of graduates has a lot more to offer than what’s on a resume.
The adjustment to online learning was not one that most of my peers enjoyed. We were expected to stay locked in our homes, maintain good grades, avoid Covid, and wait on the world to get it together. Although not under the best circumstances, we were taught the valuable skill of adaptability. We learned to adjust to new environments without a second thought and can switch between virtual spaces and in-person rather quickly. Sometimes we are presented with situations that we don’t want to be in, but that doesn’t mean we can reject them – it’s a fact of life that we must adapt and move forward. It is a very valuable asset to fast-paced environments.
Along with adaptability, our creative side has been forced out of hiding. Through the pandemic, hundreds of successful businesses/ideas have been born. We are better at using resources that we have access to. When there is no other choice, we learn to think outside the box. I know creatives who have made films from their basements, photographers who used their dogs as models, and artists who painted every fruit in their house 10 times over. We’ve become masters at creating something out of nothing; when it was never anything, we were just never forced to look differently. Students are now more open-minded and willing to step out of their comfort zones to try new ideas, which is a great skill to have. Everyone can be creative, it’s just a matter of finding it.
Gen Z is resilient and hardworking; while being faced with a world-changing event, we continued to learn and grow as creators and thinkers. It took a lot of accountability to learn in a virtual space, there was no one to keep you in check but yourself. When we are meant to be taught by others, we ended up learning more from ourselves. Peers in all fields have struggled and persevered through this time to become smart and independent thinkers. It’s daunting to step into this industry with experience that is very different from others. Working virtually has been an odd experience and stepping into an office for the first time in 2 years felt weird. It made me feel that I wasn’t ready to graduate and get a real job, it was an environment I haven’t experienced. I soon realized I have a great set of skills that are very desirable in the workplace. Our education was far from ordinary, but I think that’s what makes us special.