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Graduating during the pandemic 

By PATRICIA MANARANG Published Jan 07, 2022 5:00 am Updated Jan 18, 2022 1:46 pm

Online classes and the adjustments that come with them have been discussed at great length already, but how do you deal with actually graduating online? I’ve spent half of my college life in Zoom university, and by next year I’ll be graduating from there, too (if all goes well).

Having the ceremonies remain online is still a real possibility, which begs the question: what happens after? What’s life like after college, but still during a pandemic? Combine those concerns with the uncertainness that the pandemic still brings and you’re thrown for an even bigger loop.

People have done it, though. So far, there have been two batches that have graduated during these weird times. I’ve had numerous friends from Batch 2020 and Batch 2021 who are all doing different things currently, and who have somehow made it work.

These are people who I’ve seen as busy college students running around the UP Diliman campus alongside me, and who are now full-fledged adults. There’s a quiet admiration there, looking at how they transitioned from one point to the other, with both their accomplishments and their struggles. It’s not too difficult to envision myself in their shoes in the near future, and that’s a hope that I’m willing to hold on to.

Myk Aquino

Course: BS Industrial Engineering
Batch: 2021

What have you been up to since graduation?

After graduating, I took a three-week break, which is short compared to most people, actually. If I had taken a longer break I would have gotten sick of it. During my penultimate year in college, I was an intern for this company. After graduation, I decided to pursue the same role as a full-time employee.

How has the pandemic affected your post-college plans?

I already accepted a different internship but because it was face-to-face, it was cancelled. I would not have looked for another opportunity if it were not for the pandemic. I would have also been working in a different role and industry. In the end, we went with the opportunities presented to us and the pandemic ended up shifting the opportunities I had.

What difficulties do you face because of the situation?

I had to start all over in terms of looking for internships. It took me almost three months before I found one. I also had to adjust to the online setting, and I'm sure we all had to. I had to learn to set boundaries for when work starts and work ends. Now, I’m not used to working with people in the office or seeing a crowd or just mingling with them. I’m now adjusting to interacting with people, after having met them online and now seeing them face-to-face.

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What are your next steps moving forward?

Our company is looking for an office that will cater to us. They’re looking for a bigger office since they expanded a lot during the pandemic. I’m kind of worried since I haven't adjusted to the daily commute or an office setting where I'm with people I’m working with all the time.

What advice do you have for the graduating batch?

Because of the pandemic, companies in general put more focus on spreading the word through online media. It’s a matter of putting in effort to look for opportunities. There are some companies you wouldn't have heard of before. On the flipside, if you don't end up working right away, that's okay. A lot of my batchmates haven't started working as well. The pandemic has been hard and we need our own time to cope. Do what's best for you. When you start working, a lot of things are going to be different. It’s a big transition so there’s no need to rush into it.

Nikka Quejano

Course: BS Materials Engineering
Batch: 2020

What have you been up to since graduation?

I had a one-month break before I started my internship. Around October of 2020, I applied for grad school and for a scholarship. I got the results in December, and I made the final decision to push through with my scholarship in January of 2021.

How has the pandemic affected your post-college plans?

My original plan was to start working immediately after graduating,pero natapos yung semester and everything was so uncertain. I wasn’t sure how long we’d be in lockdown. I wasn’t sure how long to wait before applying for jobs. So, at that time, it felt like going back to school was the safest option for me since classes are still held online.

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What difficulties do you face because of the situation?

Nahihirapan ako in catching up with the classes regardless if it's synchronous or not. I find it easier to understand the lesson when I'm in a room with my prof and classmateskasiit's faster to raise questions and clarify things. But that's not always the case with online classes. Communication can be difficult and that's what I really struggle with.

What are your next steps moving forward?

Finish grad school and then get a job. I'm not sure how long it'll take me to accomplish them, or if I'll even do them in that order, but those two things are what I'm working towards.

What advice do you have for the graduating batch?

Take it one day at a time. I struggled when I graduated, thinking I had to change my plans completely. But it's important to know what other options you have and think of what you really want to do before jumping into it. I think most of us are rushing and pressured to have it all figured out after graduation (I'm guilty of it) but I've learned that we all have different timelines on how to go on about life. Some may take more time than others and that's completely fine. So, think about your goals, plan and work towards them, but also don't forget to take it easy.

Ado Laplana

Course: BS Metallurgical Engineering
Batch: 2020

What have you been up to since graduation?

UP had a partnership with Coursera, and during that time I took a lot of them ranging from topics about the environment, renewable energy, etc. I took around 15 courses. I also studied for boards pretty early, around October of 2020.

How has the pandemic affected your post-college plans?

I really intended to do a master’s abroad right after, so it was such a big change with the pandemic happening. I was already doing my application process (for a master’s program) and all that before graduation, but it was hard to comply with the requirements. I would be required to go to the country to take the exam there, which was difficult to do. If I had graduated and taken my master’s, I was thinking I wouldn’t have been able to take the board exam.

What difficulties do you face because of the situation?

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When you ask the past exam takers, something that they always mention is studying with friends physically. We couldn’t have that opportunity, we really had to do this on our own. The difficult part of the boards was that there was no certainty; you're preparing for a big exam but they sent cancellations like three times. We were scheduled for October 2020, but we were sure it would get cancelled. We had another in June 2021, which they cancelled less than a week before the exam. It felt really bad.

What are your next steps moving forward?

My plans haven't really changed. Internship, online courses, boards even, I just put them in between my original plans. I’m still going to push through with my plan of taking my master’s abroad. I don't want to pressure myself too much; if I don't make the cut for 2022, I can always apply for 2023.

What advice do you have for the graduating batch?

It's important to find the balance between someone who plans and someone who adjusts well. When you make plans, it shouldn’t be too rigid. I realized that, before, I wanted to be in control of everything. Don't be someone who doesn’t make plans at all, and don't be someone who doesn't. You can treat your plans as more of a guide. At the same time, you should also enjoy the process of accomplishing what you want to accomplish.