Job hunting during the COVID-19 outbreak | Ellie Ward

Ellie Ward is currently in her final year, BA (Hons) English Literature and Creative Writing.  She was interviewed by the Careers Service about her experience of job hunting during the outbreak of COVID-19.

Did you work while you were at university?

I worked throughout my degree doing professional acting, directing and producing.  Some of my highlights were being a member of the cast at the London Dungeon, writing immersive theatre that took place in London’s West End and teaching drama in schools. 

Can you explain a bit about how the outbreak of COVID-19 affected your ability to work?

Nearly all my jobs at the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic were freelance. Overnight, I lost nearly all of them and found myself without much income. I felt very worried about the future and fearful for my career and my ability to rebuild it. 

Has COVID-19 changed your career plans?

Upon graduation, I intended to develop my career further in Theatre Production and Management. Realising that this industry was going to suffer due to the pandemic, I knew my career plans had to change and I had to be a bit creative about finding a job.

How did you approach looking and finding a graduate job?

I made a big list of my strengths, experience and transferable skills and put them into groups.  This helped me identify industries where my skillset would be useful and I narrowed down my search to jobs in PR, Healthcare and the Education sector.

Have you been successful in finding a job?

Yes, after a few interviews, I was successful in securing a job at as an Executive Assistant at a brand-new secondary school in London.  I am excited about the job because it involves a variety of tasks including PR, internal communications and recruitment.

How did they interview you?

I was interviewed remotely, using Microsoft Teams.  It was more like an assessment centre which lasted for 4 hours and involved a face-to-face interview and a series of exercises to complete, including a presentation. 

Do you have any tips for succeeding in remote interviews?

Make sure to have tested the WiFi and technology you will be using in advance and prepare very much in the same way that you would prepare for a face-to-face interview.  Also, take advantage of the ability to have your CV and information about the employer and the job on the screen.  During my interview, I had a crib sheet on the screen with reminders about my experience, skills and the employer’s values.

Do you have advice for students looking for work at this challenging time?

I recommend starting your job search by writing a list of your transferable skills and thinking about the industries where you can use these.  This will help you to gain focus for your job search and keep you motivated to achieve your goals.  I would also set time aside each day for job hunting and try to complete a job application in that time.  You can also get the support of the Careers Service, who are currently available for appointments via Zoom (bookable on CareerLink).  You can also contact them through Live Chat on CareerLink or by emailing

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