I Graduated, What Now? A Pandemic-Era Guide for the Class of 2020

By Nicole Tobias
2020 Bob O’Gara Scholarship winner


To the Class of 2020: Congratulations, we’ve made it! 

We have worked incredibly hard to make it to this monumental moment in our lives. Coincidentally, another monumental moment in our lives is happening. No one could have predicted that a global pandemic would happen and disrupt so many lives and events, including the remainder of our senior year, graduation and job search. Many of us were looking forward to jumping right into the workforce. Now we are all at home, probably dressed in some form of leisurewear with hair that has not been washed in three days, reevaluating our futures.
So, what now? While it may seem challenging to thrive during a global pandemic, there are still ways to better yourself during this time.

Take a Break

While it is important to continue to work and not entirely clock out of life, it is also equally important to take days to yourself and rest. Take advantage of this time to catch up on all the rest you lost during the school year. Binge watch an entire series on Netflix. Learn how to cook that recipe you have always wanted to make. Do whatever it takes to help you rest, relax and reenergize because once we have the opportunity to go back to work, you are going to do a major disservice to yourself and your employer if you are already run down and exhausted.

Continue Professional Development

There are a plethora of resources available to help us all continue professional development.

  • Many classes and certifications are available for free online and can give you the opportunity to understand a subject better and add another skill to your skillset. 
  • Get involved with your PRSA Chapter to see what they are doing during this time and engage with whatever content they are producing. 
  • Join webinars pertaining to our field; most of them are free! 
  • Reading case studies and actively looking at what brands are doing during this crisis can help expand your mind and think of how you and your future employer may respond to a situation like this. 
  • Above all, network, network, network! Catch up with PRSSA friends you haven’t talked to in a while. Make the effort to make new connections in your PRSA Chapter. Ask your mentors and or advisors if they would want to catch up with you and video chat. Everyone is here to support each other now more than ever, so never be afraid to reach out!

Update Your Materials

Maybe within this last year you have produced some quality pieces that would make wonderful additions to your portfolio. Maybe you don’t have any form of portfolio to show potential employers. Now is the time to either create or revamp your portfolio. The same can apply to your resume. Go back and update your resume with any new skills/certifications you have earned during this time as well as updating your status at school and with any on-campus jobs or organization positions you may have had. Updating your portfolio and resume can be a lengthy process, especially if you have not maintained it for some amount of time. However, it will make your life so much simpler when hiring freezes are lifted and the job opportunities arise; you will already be prepared instead of scrambling to put things together.

Accept Whatever Happens

The reality of this situation is, no one knows exactly what our new normal will look like. Many of us are also going to be unemployed for an extended amount of time; probably longer than we would like. Life is incredibly unpredictable, and sometimes not everything is going to happen the way we expect. Even though life throws those inevitable punches, it is important to roll with them as best as we can. Adaptability is key. We’re often going to find ourselves in challenging predicaments that make us uncomfortable, but even those uncomfortable and challenging moments can produce major growth. Do your best to accept and adapt to what situations come your way, and you are sure to see growth that will better you in the long run.

Nicole Tobias is a recent graduate from Waynesburg University where she studied Public Relations and Marketing. Nicole was also the recipient of the Bob O’Gara Scholarship at the 2020 PRSA Pittsburgh Renaissance Awards.


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