Class of Covid-19

The trials and tribulations of new graduates

Stepping out into the world as a fresh graduate during a pandemic has been undeniably difficult. Transition into adulthood is tough enough without Miss Rona, who has caused the decline of job opportunities, an unstable political situation and loss of life experiences, to name a few on the tip of the iceberg. However, this is a reality that millions of young Thais face today. Guru speaks to a few to learn about their beginnings at adulthood and resources they can turn to for help.

Chanutnart "Plai" Yamdech

Class of 2020
Bachelor of Arts Programme in Social Communication Innovation, Srinakharinwirot University
Status: Employed
Creative marketing content creator, Line Thailand

How did it feel to graduate during a pandemic?

It has been a bumpy road before and after my graduation. I was the first group of students, aka the guinea pigs, for a trial run for online teaching. No one was prepared for it, neither the university nor lecturers. I had one course left in my last semester when online learning began so it was a piece of cake for me, compared to the three years of the hard-knock life that I went through. But when I really had to leave my campus, I felt so directionless.

(Photo courtesy of Chanutnart Yamdech)

I took a break right after my graduation to reward myself with some time off. However, I couldn't put my mind at ease. I saw many people lose their jobs, as well as my friends venting about their failed job searches on social media. I just felt like the longer I stayed home, the more pressure I put on myself. Being a fresh graduate during the pandemic forced me to get ready for adult life. At the same time, I had to give up all the fun and dreams of being a youngster.

How did get the job at Line Thailand?

I started my job search in July 2020. I looked on every website and Facebook group for job opportunities in the digital agency industry, which I'm passionate about. I was surfing the internet every day looking for a job and it was very difficult to find the right one. I did go to a couple of job interviews, but I missed those chances. I didn't knew how challenging it is for fresh graduates to apply for jobs.

Fortunately, one of my friends sent me a job opening at Line Thailand as a creative marketing content creator for Line Shopping and that caught my attention. The selection process took about a month. I went through three interviews, pitching my ideas and ambitions. Believe it or not, I even went to the Erawan Shrine at the Ratchaprasong intersection to pray and wish for extra luck. In the end, I don't know whether it was my presentations or the deity that granted my wish. I've now been employed at Line Thailand for nine months.

What are your thoughts on "#GiveUsBackJoysOfOurYouth" (#เอาชีวิตวัยรุ่นกูคืนมา)?

The phrase is what I feel on a daily basis. Since the last year of my uni life, many things have been taken away. Those years are supposed to be our most memorable moments of friendship, but it is all gone because of Covid-19. Partying or hanging out with friends is what I miss the most. Not being able to see each other for months due to the lockdown was driving me crazy. Also, many kids missed out on an opportunity to make lifelong friends.

Even though I am lucky enough to remain employed during these tough times, I have to work from home a lot. It means that I have to learn everything by myself instead of being guided by my boss or colleagues. For almost two years of the pandemic, no matter how old you are, I think we all have to give up our dreams -- some more than others. It feels like we live from day-to-day, not knowing when we can get our normal lives back.


Swit "Boon" Narksakul

Class of 2021
Bachelor of Fine and Applied Arts Programme in Visual Arts, Srinakharinwirot University
Status: Unemployed

What are your thoughts on "#GiveUsBackJoysOfOurYouth"?

I think the current situation and our well-being or lack thereof gave rise to the hashtag. As fresh graduates, this year is supposed to be the most beautiful moment of our lives, where we are full of passion and energy to discover who we are. Instead, we are prevented from living a full life. The government's mismanagement of the current situation has robbed many things from us. Our lost time and opportunity cannot be returned. If you don't understand why many young protesters are marching on the streets today, this is because you are taking our future away.

(Photo courtesy of Swit Narksakul)

If the pandemic didn't happen, what would you be doing?

If someone could grant me this wish, I would probably be having a good time, explaining my project at my thesis exhibition and sharing those moments with all my friends. As an art student, I have dreamed about this exhibition since the first year I entered university. However, the pandemic took away that dream forever. Even though we can showcase our work via an online exhibition, which the audience is quite excited about, it is disappointing for us artists.

Are you looking for a job or taking a gap year?

I'm taking some downtime. The ongoing political movement is my priority. I want to be one of the spokespersons to call for democracy in this country. As a part-time street photographer, I want to utilise all photos that I've taken to tell the world about what is really happening in Thailand, as well as to keep them for my portfolio. I do apply for a few jobs, but finding them during these trying times is quite difficult and no one wants to take risks accepting fresh graduates.


Pongsathon "Tent" Pumnikom

Class of 2020
Bachelor of Arts in International Asean-China Studies, Thammasat University
Status: Further studies
Institute of China and Asia Pacific Studies (ICAPS), College of Social Sciences of National Sun Yat-Sen University, Taiwan

What have you missed out on in the past year?

The gap year [last year] that I wished for turned out to be a horrible year of emptiness and my post-graduation plan also went with it. I have lost the opportunity to live the life that I wanted! I could have learnt about myself in real situations rather than watching other people living their lives from vlogs or my favourite movies at home. I could have travelled to Taiwan or other countries to study the various courses on offer and look at universities that would fit my interests for a master's degree. I could have even built valuable connections with people I came across. For now, I'm trying to restrain myself from thinking about my dream of being a flight attendant and other things that I missed out. I don't want to blame anyone for that, though. The show must go on, right?

(Photo courtesy of Pongsathon Pumnikom)

What are your thoughts on "#GiveUsBackJoysOfOurYouth"?

I believe that mismanagement of the situation by the powers that be is one of the factors that worsen everyone's lives. Last year, when the coronavirus swept across the world, I knew right away that I must give up on my dream job as a flight attendant. An entire year later, even though I changed my career path as I decided to pursue a degree abroad, I am still struggling as Thailand continues to have a very high number of Covid-19 cases daily. I am desperately waiting for everything to get back on track or get better, but it all seems to keep getting worse.

What is your life plan now?

I'm heading back to the education field. One thing I can do right now is improving myself by going back to study. Besides, I have set my new goal to become a lecturer. Why is that? Well, the pandemic has ceased many businesses, especially travel industries and logistics, while education keeps going. Students still have to learn via online learning and continue to develop.

For almost a year, I had been pursuing a scholarship for a master's degree in Taiwan and got it. Everything was prepared and I was ready to leave. But their border control won't let me in! The Taiwanese government is concerned about the Delta variant coming from other countries, especially Thailand, where new cases hit 20,000 daily. My plan is ruined because of the pandemic again and my studies have to wait until borders reopen.


Nuttapoom "Nut" Muangsaen

Class of 2021
Bachelor of Arts Programme in Social Communication Innovation, Srinakharinwirot University
Status: Unemployed

What are you doing now?

I'm unemployed, period. However, I finally have time for myself after many years of studying nonstop. I got a chance to clean up my Netflix viewing list, reorganise my room and even finish a stack of unread books. While we can't go out, I try to make the most of my time. I'm trying to be positive during these hard times. Everything is supposed to be a fresh start after graduation, but, at least, what I can do right now is to keep my chin up and wait for the right moment.

(Photo courtesy of Nuttapoom Muangsaen)

Are you looking for a job or taking a gap year?

I'm taking both options right now. For me, searching for a job wasn't that difficult, but finding the right one is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Besides, as a 'dek-nitade' or a communication arts student, I'm kinda narrowing my job-search field down to an opportunity in the entertainment industry, which we all know is hit hard by the pandemic. On second thoughts, if I got a job, I would be suffering from working from home for sure. Why is that? Because instead of having a good time experiencing new things or meeting new faces, I would be sitting at the same desk in the same room while looking at the screen all day long.

What do you miss the most after graduation?

Memorable moments with my friends is something I cannot get back. I believe, in the end, we will always find our way back together, one way or another.

What are your thoughts on "#GiveUsBackJoysOfOurYouth"?

We are off to a rough start. Instead of exploring the world or discovering our passion through a process of trial and error, we are stuck at home or even being forced to get a job straight away. It's such a waste of time. However, it isn't the end of the world and we still have a lot of things to live for.


HERE TO HELP

Don't wait for opportunity to come to you: create it, goes the saying. Here are a few online courses that could help new graduates improve, find work and explore education abroad.

Chula MOOC

mooc.chula.ac.th

Chulalongkorn University offers a free online learning centre that comprises five categories to choose from.

They are: language, IT/data/technology, management, art & self-development and health, which will be conducted by lecturers from the university and Chula students. Some of Chula MOOC classes will guarantee improvement with a certificate once the exam is passed with a minimum score of 60%. The course has limited, seats depending on the subject.

Recommended course: English for Job Hunters. The class will cover everything you need to know about applying for a job, ranging from work-related vocabulary, how to write a resume to job interview questions that you should be ready for.

Price: Free

Skillane

skilllane.com

Skillane is packed with everything you need to know about "adulting", such as monetary & investment, marketing, licenses, tutoring and lifestyle. The highlighted course is the Tuxsa, an online master's degree programme in collaboration with Thammasat University. This digital learning platform offers two graduate degree courses: an MBA in Business Innovation and Data Science for Digital Business Transformation, where you earn real credits for a certificate.

Recommended course: Stock 101 by StockJourNoey (B3,999). The class will introduce you to the world of stock trading. It's taught by a renowned full-time trader and the creator of the StockJourNoey page, Thanaporn Jearanaikulwanich.

Price: Free up to B20,000.

FutureSkill

futureskill.co

Even though there might not be classes that teach you about SEO writing or Facebook ads boosting, you can learn about them from FutureSkill. The online learning platform with more than 100 courses can help you catch up with the global trend in the digital era. It comprises four main categories: technology, creativity, data & analytics and business, which will be taught by talented gurus and entrepreneurs.

Recommended course: Digital Marketing (B3,500). This class will run you through ads boosting, data analytics and content creating practices on several social media platforms, plus tips and tricks by a co-founder of Digisaws Agency, Tanchanok Aunhachart.

Price: free up to B5,900, with yearly subscription beginning at B399 per month.


Tools For Job Hunting

Linkedin

linkedin.com

Take advantage of the world's largest professional online network, which offers you a chance to explore job opportunities and internships globally. Pro Tip: fill out your profile thoroughly and make your Linkedin page outstanding by customising your profile URL, create a summary and disclose a status that you're open to new opportunities.

JobsDB / JobThai / JobBKK

Th.jobsdb.com / jobthai.com / jobbkk.com

If you are new to the job searching game, visit these local digital job boards that can be your entry point. They cover almost every job position in Thailand from every industry. You can find opening positions in your hometown by selecting a region filter. If you're looking for a job with easy transportation access, there is also an option for that.

Fastwork

Fastwork.co

Whether you are a part-time graphic designer or freelance writer, you can join Fastwork, an online freelance job board, where you can post a portfolio and work while it will match your profile with clients.


Scholarship Search

Chevening Scholarship

For a master's degree in the UK

Type: Fully-funded academic scholarship.

Benefit: All expenses covered (tuition fees, visa costs, dissertation expenses and roundtrip airfare), monthly allowance and Chevening network internship opportunities and work programme.

Criteria: Thai nationality, a bachelor's degree with a GPA of 3.00 or higher, at least two years of work experience, an IELTS score of 6.5 or higher (each skill not less than 5.5) or as required by the university you are applying to and two-year working requirement after graduation.

Deadline: Nov 2, 2021.

Gates Cambridge Scholarship

For a master's degree at the University of Cambridge, UK

Type: Fully-funded academic scholarship.

Benefit: The University Composition Fee; a maintenance allowance (up to £17,848), roundtrip airfare, inbound visa costs and the cost of the Immigration Health Surcharge.

Note: The University Composition Fee varies for different types of students.

Criteria: Applicants have to be already accepted at the University of Cambridge.

Deadline: January 2022.

DAAD Helmut-Schmidt-Programme

A master's degree scholarship for public policy and good governance at selected universities in Germany.

Type: Fully-funded academic scholarship.

Benefit: Monthly scholarship rate of up to €861, insurance, a study and research grant, and travel expenses.

Criteria: Graduates in the field of social sciences, political sciences, law and economics and an IELTS score of 6.5 or higher (each skill not less than 5.5) or as required by the university you are applying to. Note: All courses have their own application requirements.

Deadline: Open for applications annually from June 1 to July 31.

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