Trying to find a job straight out of college was hard enough already, but trying to find one during the middle of a pandemic is just asinine. Claire Smith, graduated from the University of North Alabama with a degree in nutritional therapy, as well as a continuing credential in Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) in the spring semester of 2020, just as businesses were beginning to shut down. Claire spent the first few months of the pandemic working at a grocery store while trying to find a full-time job that was in her field. But as any pandemic college graduate will tell you, job opportunities were slim to none.
A declining job market
Claire originally planned to open her own office where she could meet with clients in person and host monthly meetings and classes. But with the job market in shambles for the foreseeable future, Claire decided to take matters into her own hands and open her own virtual office where she meets with clients virtually.
Even though she made it over the unemployment hump, Claire had to deal with the problem of advertising. “The pandemic has made it difficult to advertise my services and bring people in since we’re all online,” says Claire. “But at the same time, it’s brought in clients from Florida, Ohio, and Atlanta; people I would not have been working with had it not been for the pandemic.”
Working under lockdown
Not only has the switch to an online setting given her business a much-needed boost, but it’s also given her personal life a healthy boost as well. After graduating, Claire moved back to her hometown in Knoxville, Tennessee, where she had originally hoped to open her brick and mortar office. But her move to a virtual setting, allowed her to travel freely between her hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee, and Florence, Alabama. That’s where her fiancés, Chris, lives while he finishes his degree. Claire was able to comfort Chris who had become increasingly angsty after the first month of lockdown, comparing him to an “angst-filled teen on his first day of high school.” She was also able to continue to work on her business as well as continue her nutritional practices, by encouraging her fiancé to completely change his diet (much to his chagrin).
At the end of my interview with Claire, I asked if she had any words of wisdom for soon-to-be college graduates applying for jobs. “Be ready to end up somewhere you didn’t expect you would end up and roll with it,” she said. “Because there are different opportunities, you just have to look in the right places. Or, just do what I did and start your own business.”
As someone who has worried about being able to find a job straight out of college, it is reassuring and inspiring to see how one individual was able to take something as awful as a global pandemic and turn it into a profitable business.
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