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Women & COVID-19: Focus on the Positive

Spring B is definitely not how I pictured it.

Graduating in May, our class had so many plans about graduation, commencement, club events, balls, get togethers and ambitious travelling plans. But then virus broke out.

Coming back from spring break, we already knew that all our classes will be digital and our graduation will potentially be cancelled. But it was not until end of March that we realized that it is not just two weeks of self-isolation. We are the MBA class of 2020 graduating in midst of global crisis and a hiring freeze.

It came as a shock which I still cannot digest fully but learned to live with it. Here is how.

Stay involved.

My MBA class is just 104 people, and the benefit of a small school is in how much support you receive from your cohort and how you become really good friends with your classmates. We set up Zoom calls instead of our weekly Keep Simon Social event, the university organizes information sessions and yoga classes, and there is still a lot of homework, projects, and team meetings.

I am surprised how busy I am even without the need to leave home. Zoom is not the same as being in business school, but our class tries to stay interactive even if we are not physically in class: engage in discussions, ask questions, and share industry news.

Develop good habits and stay healthy.

Now is the best time to start eating healthy, working out, and using the spare time for something you always dreamed of. If you ever wanted to work out every day, master SQL, write a book, learn to cook – now is the time. Use it wisely and don’t let COVID be the only negative thing you will remember about this time. Create positive memories by achieving, learning or volunteering online.

Stay positive.

I can find a million reasons why this situation is bad for me, but I prefer to focus on the good ones. People are being much more open to networking than ever. I schedule a networking call almost every day and use this time to develop my professional network in the US where I only have internship experience.

Simon alumni has been incredibly helpful, including a panel discussion organized by the university, where our 2009 class spoke about how they dealt with the financial crisis and what actions they took.

Keep work-life balance.

The challenge of staying at home is that days merge and there is not a clear line between weekend and weekday, work and life, anymore. Keep that line. It is important to switch off from work, which helps to maintain mental peace. Don’t keep your laptop on all day. Finish at 6 pm and go cycle, workout, cook. Being online 24/7 create extra anxiety which you may not even acknowledge.

Plan your day.

Another difficulty is the illusion that you have plenty of time but you end up wasting all day browsing.  Planning is key. Put your tasks on the calendar and allocate reasonable time. If you don’t create deadlines for yourself, it may lead to work piling up.

Job search.

I am specializing in Strategy and Marketing and still looking for a job post-graduation. The challenge of recruiting now is severe uncertainty.

First, research which industries and companies are growing and focus your application efforts on them. Use your network and your network’s network to look for opportunities. Build new connections: jobs may not be available right now, but will rapidly appear when the situation gets back to normal. You want to be that person on their mind when the positions appear. Prepare backup plans such as temporary projects or research work, or maybe even work on that startup idea you always wanted to do.     

Guzeliya Sayfullina is an MBA candidate 2020 (STEM) with progressive experience in strategic planning, international marketing and business analytics. She has a proven record of managing complex business challenges, driving change and innovation in fast paced environment. She is Forté ambassador and Fellow at Simon Business School, President of Simon Entrepreneurs Association and Teacher Assistant for Marketing Management and Analytics Design classes.

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