How to start your career when you graduated into the pandemic

If you Google “Covid graduates” you’ll find articles all saying that graduates of 2020 have bleak futures to look forward to.

I’m pushing back on that.

By Ryan Carruthers

April 8, 2021

Covid graduates

If you read Living Facts (a division of Pew Research Center), you’ll find an all too familiar article covering how the pandemic has negatively affected young people’s futures.

The article will detail how Owen, a graduate of a journalism program in 2020, feels that he has “no real job prospects at the moment” because of the pandemic. His story echoes the many other graduates who were hit hard by the pandemic. The article also states that over 10 million young people were “neither in school nor in the workplace in June 2020.”

The story is clear. The economy tanked, and young people are floundering.

A study by RBC Future Launch revealed that young Canadians aged 14-29 “are significantly less confident when it comes to their job prospects and how prepared they are for the future of work.” With no opportunities to pursue at the moment, young people feel stuck.

But these are not the only stories out there.

Not every young person has to accept their lot and assume that their career will be forever lagging because of the pandemic.

“young Canadians aged 14-29 “are significantly less confident when it comes to their job prospects and how prepared they are for the future of work.””

I was lost when the pandemic hit

I was in the same boat when I graduated in 2020. I wanted to hit the ground running with a full-time job, so I did the work of networking, reaching out to recruiters, going to events, and everything else I could to get ahead.

The pandemic, however, pulled the rug out from under me. I lost the opportunities I had, and I felt like Owen:

“You try to remain optimistic because it’s the only hope you have, but it’s a pretty discouraging time to have graduated.”

Fortunately, one of my professors shared a resource with third-year students who were supposed to start internships in May of 2020. I saw her post in a class Slack and decided to check it out.

The resource was Acadium, a platform for people without marketing experience to match with entrepreneurs to build the skills necessary to kick-start their careers. 

And it was all remote – perfect for a recent grad stuck in lockdown.

How Acadium helped me get out of the rut I was in

Signing up with Acadium was exciting. It was different from reaching out to people on LinkedIn. They were busy, and I always felt I sounded pushy. But when I signed up with Acadium, I found business owners, agencies, and startups who wanted help in executing their marketing strategies.

When I was applying for entry-level jobs in school, I was looking for simple coordinator or data entry positions that would get my foot in the door. But on Acadium, I found opportunities where marketing professionals would teach me the hands-on skills that all marketers needed. In exchange for my help, I’d simultaneously grow my network and skills. It was better than pursuing entry-level positions.

On average, It takes three to six months to find a job. Instead, I could spend that time learning the skills that would get me positions better than entry-level roles.

I matched and started two apprenticeships where I’d work on web design with one mentor and social media advertising with the other.

The apprenticeships were transformational. In three months, I went from having no experience to becoming a freelancer with clients. And during a pandemic, it was all remote, which I was beginning to love.

And I wasn’t the only one. There are thousands – yes thousands – of other people who refused to give up and become the doomed Covid-graduates that so many articles described.

During my time at Acadium, I would meet people who:

“There are thousands – yes thousands – of other people who refused to give up and become the doomed Covid-graduates that so many articles described.”

Working for Acadium

If the experience wasn’t already incredible enough, I also had the opportunity to work with Acadium’s team after a serendipitous conversation with my future manager and mentor, Graham, who would recommend me for a job.

Working on the Acadium team was my first taste of being a part of a startup.

The team was devoted to providing the opportunity for anybody with a computer and internet connection to build a career they’d love. They would regularly share in Slack the messages that users would send us about how their apprenticeships had transformed their careers. It was fulfilling to see the positive effect of the work we were doing.

They would also share their enthusiasm with the world as they shared on podcasts what their work would mean for the future of work and access to education.

As a startup, they let me own an area of their business. First with advertising experiments and then content. The autonomy and responsibility they gave me accelerated how much I was able to learn.

Without Acadium, I would not be where I am now.

For that, I will be forever grateful and an advocate of their work.

Giving people the opportunity to own their futures

The type of person who comes to Acadium isn’t willing to let the economy’s state or the barriers they face decide what kind of career they can have.

With an internet connection and a fierce determination to take control of their futures, Acadium’s users are leaning into the new normal of working remotely and creating opportunities for themselves.

The pandemic isn’t stopping them.


Thank you, Acadium, for the work you are doing and the opportunities you allow to happen for people all over the world. The effort you’re putting in is necessary – especially now. I’m just one of many who have been able to transform their career trajectory because of what you’ve built. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your journey.