By Jiaming Pan

Are you stressed? Self-doubting? Anxious? To all the international students, new graduates, and people who are looking for a job during the pandemic: All your efforts will pay off in the end.

It has been over three years since I first came to this beautiful land – Canada. About three years ago, as an international student, I came to Canada to study alone with great excitement, without any help from friends or family. Over the years, while I have encountered a variety of hardships in the study and daily life, fortunately, all the problems have been successfully solved eventually. Therefore, I always believe that all my efforts will pay off in the end. However, the outbreak of COVID-19 e not only disrupted my original life plans but also for the first time since I went abroad, triggered me to feel an unprecedented level of stress, self-doubt, and anxiety. As the global pandemic has caused a dramatic negative impact on the economy, since the beginning of 2020, many businesses decided to close stores and lay off workers to reduce the loss. Under the current condition of high unemployment rate in Canada, as a 4th year international student at Carleton University who will graduate in April 2021, COVID-19 has brought the hardest challenge for me in terms of employment.

While the shift of the teaching approach from traditional in-class teaching to remote teaching may be difficult for newcomers to the university to adapt in a short time, it is not a significant issue for more senior students who possess good time management skills and autonomous learning abilities. Instead, for senior students like me who have no plans for further study at present, the most important thing is to find a satisfactory job as soon as possible before graduation. Nevertheless, the fact is that it is a hard challenge to find a stable job during the pandemic, especially for international students who not only have to deal with practical problems such as language barriers and work permits, but also need to compete with newly graduated locals and other applicants with abundant work experience. In fact, I was confident before I actually started seeking a job online because my requirement for future work positions and salaries are not high. However, after I sent out dozens of resumes without any positive replies, I gradually began to realize the seriousness of the problem. Later, I attempted to ask HR about the reasons for the rejections and apparently many were due to the larger number of applications during the pandemic. For a long time after that, I was very depressed.

The long-term social distancing, heavy study, and the failure of job seeking made me feel extremely stressed, anxious, and hopeless. Sometimes, I even began to doubt my value and whether all my hard work at Carleton University would pay off in the end. At night, I often think about the fact that Carleton University has announced that all the classes before graduation are delivered online, making me wonder if I should go back to China to finish the rest of my studies just like my other friends? Could I find a satisfactory job in China to make my life easier? However, there are no correct answers in life as we have to deal with problems on our own.

I tried to seek comfort from my close friends and family, but I generally found that merely emotional venting could not effectively solve the problem. Instead, it may increase anxiety and worries of others about me living alone away from home. However, this negative emotion did not last long as I soon realized that only action could change the current predicament.

In order to shift my attention from anxiety to things that benefit my life, I forced myself to get busy and stay away from social media. I began to schedule my study and rest time carefully every day, so as to maintain a regular life and pleasant mood. Also, I attended virtual fitness classes offered by Carleton Athletics to improve my immunity through exercising. However, I was clearly aware that these coping strategies were only intended to relieve my anxiety, which could not fundamentally solve my problem. Which is seeking employment during COVID-19.

By chance, I found out that Carleton University not only offers career services such as resume editing and future career counselling but also provides an internal platform for new graduates to view various job postings (e.g., intern, volunteer, part-time, full-time). Fortunately, I obtained more interview opportunities after my resume was revised by a career coach.

At the moment, although I have not received a full-time job offer yet, I still have the last winter semester to continue seeking a position. With diligent efforts, I am pretty confident that I will hear the first good news soon. In addition, there is also a lot of good news about vaccines in Canada at the end of 2020. The new year is coming, and everything seems to be going well. I hope that the wishes of international students, new graduates, and people who are looking for a job during the pandemic will be fulfilled because all of their efforts will pay off in the end.