How to Get Ahead During Lockdown: Advice from a Careers Adviser

It’s safe to say that the coronavirus lockdown has thrown 2020 into chaos.

The silver lining?

A shed load of free time. Time to reflect. Time to plan. And a lot of time for Tik Tok.

We spoke to Sarfraz Ahmed, a Careers Adviser at Leicester College, to find out how to use some of this time to lock down the first step in your career… 

What advice do you have for students?

Here are Sarfraz's top FOUR pieces of advice for you...

1. Keep in touch

You probably have lots of questions and anxieties about how to progress to the next step in your career, particularly with a worldwide pandemic going on. So it’s more important than ever to stay connected right now.

Remember, every sixth-form, college and university still want students to sign up for next year’s courses. And they will all be manning their inboxes and phone lines so that you can get in touch if you have any questions about your application.

You can also follow them on social media, which lots of institutions use to keep in regular contact with students. You’re also likely to get a quicker response if you have any burning questions to ask. 

2. Start distance learning

You might be living in your bedroom for the foreseeable future, but that doesn’t mean you can’t continue learning. Colleges and universities across the country have moved teaching online for that exact reason. 

Distance learning simply means the entire course is done online. You’ll have to submit coursework via email, and you’ll receive online support from teachers and lecturers.

FREE distance learning is offered by the likes of Future Learn, OpenLearn and Alison, so start by exploring these.

3. Read!

Yes, I know it’s early! But there’s nothing to stop you from reading around the subjects you’re interested in.

You’ll be able to find a lot of the reading material you need for A Levels and BTECs, including subject guides, on sites like Blackwells or Amazon.

4. Stay positive

A positive mindset will really help you out at the moment. It’s an unsettling time for us all, and all we can do is sit tight at home and stay safe. But this time could be really valuable if you use it to plan, prepare and make decisions about your future.

There are plenty of TED Talks and YouTube tutorials on positive thinking if you’re finding things tough. Stress-busting apps like Headspace can also offer lots of tips on staying calm, cool and collected.

If you have some concerns about your future, why not contact a careers adviser? Most schools, colleges and universities will be running a remote online support desk via email, social media, telephone or video call. Take them up on it. 

The 8 best resources for students

According to Sarfraz, these are THE places to go for up-to-date career advice from the experts... 

  • National Careers Service - Search for jobs, insights into over 750 careers, and all the latest job market news
  • - Real career stories, blogs, and buzz quizzes to help you figure out the right career for you
  • Barclays LifeSkills - Packed with expert advice to help you develop the skills, knowledge and confidence you need to enter the world of work
  • Start - In-depth career profiles (and lots of videos!) to inspire you about different careers and industries, as well as resources to prepare you for further study
  • Career Experts - Tips on how to search for, apply for, and get your dream job
  • YouTube - Home to thousands of useful video content, including key skills workshops, career tutorials and employer channels 
  • The Student Room - The UK’s largest online student community (visited by 75% of UK students aged 14-24!) 
  • Studential - Loads of corona and non-corona related articles on GCSEs, apprenticeships, university and more.

With over 20 years in the career guidance field, Sarfraz Ahmed is an award-winning Careers Adviser, author, careers advocate, assessor and trainer, renowned for his delivery of inspirational careers presentations and articles. Sarfraz has been published in the future-mag, FE News, Smart Assessors, and Unison. He currently works in Leicester College as a Careers Adviser.