• Earn an income, reduce expenses or access health insurance
  • Build out your resume, but with less concern about income
  • Create a strong professional network

Earn an income, reduce expenses or access health insurance

CNBC’s “College Voices 2020” features the story of Precious Hardy, a third-year psychology doctoral student at the University of Missouri at Columbia, who always planned to become a psychology professor. But, like many people during the pandemic, she had to pivot.

Instead of pursuing work in higher education, Hardy has turned to a different path of research in the private sector. “I still want to be able to be in a job where I feel like I’m still fulfilling my mission” to address educational achievement gaps, Hardy said. “That doesn’t necessarily mean I need to be a professor to do that.”

To kick-start your income, consider these other opportunities:

  • Teach in a K-12 school or serve as a substitute teacher; there are huge shortages in education and it could be a good short- or long-term option
  • Discover remote work with companies like FlexJobs or apply for out-of-area jobs and negotiate a work-from-home position until you can afford to relocate
  • Learn more about student debt forgiveness or student loan deferment (currently extended through September 30, 2021)
  • Look into potential government support; Jamie Talarico shares that she turned to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) even though she really didn’t want to
  • Consider a temporary stint as an essential employee in a place like a grocery store; the pay can be reasonable and may include benefits like health insurance
  • Check out “2021’s Best Jobs” to see if you can use your education in a different field than you anticipate (much like Precious Handy plans to do)

Build out your resume, but with less concern about income

Elizabeth Stehn graduated from Illinois State University in May of 2020 and discovered that the UIS GPSI program was a cost-effective way for her to earn her master’s degree, while picking up professional experience. She currently works for an assigned state agency and in exchange, she receives a stipend AND the state pays for her master’s degree!

“The GPSI program allowed me the opportunity to continue my education while gaining valuable work experience,” Stehn explained. “Finishing my undergrad during COVID was difficult and did not provide me with many career opportunities. The GPSI program has been a great bridge during the pandemic to gain on-the-job experience while expanding my education.”

For more than 45 years, the Graduate Public Service Internship Program has provided top-notch graduate students with a high-quality graduate education (with 20 different master’s degrees), real-world work experience and lifelong professional connections. Watch as

Internships or volunteer opportunities are also good ways to keep your skills sharp and prevent gaps in your resume. According to CareerUp, about 28% of students said they are considering changing their career path because of ; learn about their remote internship options.

Create a strong professional network

CNBC also shares the revelation of a young professional who found that networking was more effective than her direct efforts to get a job. Deni Budman graduated from Boston University in 2020 with a degree in film and television production, and had been furloughed from her “dream internship.”

“While my spreadsheet of job applications continued to grow, I found that the second page I had reserved for potential networking opportunities proved much more influential than the corporate job applications I was seeing online,” Budman told CNBC. “I had a few conversations and received copious words of encouragement. Finally, one conversation led to another, and with my newly rebranded resume forwarded along in email chains, something stuck.”

Today, Budman is living in Los Angeles working as a production assistant on Season 5 of Insecure on HBO. Even if your networking doesn’t yield immediate employment results, those relationships will be a powerful resource throughout your career.

One last thing

The bottom line is that we’re all still doing the pivot and we’re not sure when things will get back to normal-ish. As you continue to develop new skills or brush up on old ones, look for a job or consider attending grad school, there’s one fun thing we recommend – jumping on the Room Rater bandwagon.

If you’re not familiar with Room Rater, check out their Twitter feed or read more about them here. They provide both professional and hilarious commentary on the background of various video chats. Top 2020 awards include the “Best COVID Cabin” and Mark Zuckerberg’s “Rotten Pineapple Hostage Video.”

Then get to work upgrading your video call background with a properly-styled bookcase, flattering lighting, hidden cords and a well-placed plant. And before long, you’ll be back on track to your previous dream job – or one that’s even better than you imagined!