Alumni Advice for Graduating into a Pandemic

With the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic affecting many facets of our lives, Applied Science alumni share their advice for graduating classes navigating this new chapter.

If you have any advice you'd like to share, please get in touch at

APSC alumni share advice for graduating classes
Pictured left to right: Michelle Murphy, Won Ju, Emma Garrod, Mark Mosher, Lee Peltz, Lindsay Clark, Garner Lea, and Matthew McDonagh


Stay creative and open! In my twelve years of nursing I have worked in a variety of clinical areas, as well as in education, policy and research.

Think about ways your skills can stretch and apply to different areas that you may never have considered working in. This will not only support opportunities during a challenging and unprecedented time, but also lead to a dynamic and fulfilling career. 


ANDRE DE LEEBECK, Engineering 

This (CoVid-19) too shall pass. You embark now on the beginning of a lifetime journey of learning and of applying what you have learned to the betterment of what is around you.


GARNER LEA, Engineering 

The most important thing you can do right now is apply for any entry-level or student position that is currently posted. Even having a summer student role will help set you up for something full-time as business opens back up.

Make the most of your relationships with your faculty; many of the professors are still connected to industry and can facilitate opening doors to opportunity. 



Be flexible and willing to take a chance on a job that might not seem just right at the start, but might jumpstart you into a new field or organisation that will be perfect later on!


WON JU, Engineering 

As someone who graduated into a post-meltdown world back in 2009, I can relate to the uncertainty, anxiety and general feeling of doom and gloom some of you must feel. Among my classmates, some found jobs straight away, some went on to do master's, and some, like me, took the chance and tried an unusual career path. There will always be opportunities out there. Don't worry too much about things you can't control, and stay positive. You'll do just fine.

Ad Maiora!


OMID JAVADI, Engineering

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I graduated from UBC Engineering in the middle of the biggest global recession in 100 years. I know how things feel for you right now. While the economics then were worse, at least you could still see your friends. Things didn't look great for our profession, but I was surprised and emboldened by the resilience of the Engineering field, and I'm certain that you too will find yourself impressed by that same resilience soon enough.



As you prepare yourselves for the future consider opportunities and risks carefully. In this globalized fast-paced world the decisions you make now have long lasting effects. Be proud of yourselves, but humble too at your good fortune. You've had a chance to get an education at one of the world's best universities.

Better your lives, but also help those who have not been as fortunate. Finally, don't forget all the people who have helped you get to where you are, and where you want to go. 



Be genuinely humble, always be learning, don't use buzz words! Look for your blind spots and know you have those.



Congratulations on a milestone accomplishment! While the timing of your graduation might not seem ideal, be confident that SCARP has provided you with a network of passionate colleagues and a strong social support network. Recessions, global pandemics, and general economic/social disruption provide opportunity; they force us, as a society, to seek out new ways of operating.

Be confident and open to part-time work. Take contracts and consider other working arrangements. Most of all, think boldly.



Find a job you love and you will never work a day in your life. Find a partner to love, raise a family if you choose and you will be rewarded with happiness ever  after. Be honest with yourself and others. Remember where you came from and how and give back accordingly. 

Lastly... listen to Father and Son by Cat Stevens... a great song with some good advice.


JOSH KELLY, Engineering

I graduated shortly after the financial crisis of 2008 when few firms were hiring. I spent the summer fruitlessly submitting resumes to oil companies until attending the UBC career fair in September, where I spoke with an insurance company that used engineers to inspect industrial properties. I interviewed the next day and got a great job inspecting chemical plants, proving that you should keep an open mind to new possibilities during these difficult times.



I graduated in the last recession when all the planning firms and city departments had placed a hiring freeze. To get my first job I was relentless and resorted to directly contacting companies and exploring how to build value together.

Be willing to get creative and use the different skills you have. I worked in marketing for years, which landed me my dream job later on the marketing team of a sustainability firm, which was my goal at graduation. It took ten years. Dare to build your dreams.



The economy is widely expected to roar back to life at a rate that would be considered an astronomical boom if these were ordinary times. Employers will have a sense of this and will be in the hiring mood for the next year at least. So, let your positivity shine through.


LEE PELTZ, Engineering 

Be open to new locations and experiences. There may not be work in your first choice of location, but there is excellent work and personal experiences to be had elsewhere.

Spending a couple of years going where the work is will set you up for being able to go to the location you want in the future with the benefit of your gathered experience.



My advice is the same for any year: network. The saying, "It's not what you know, it's who you know," is true. It helped me get my first Co-op job and every job since. I've also helped students find work because they reached out and asked.

Use LinkedIn, talk to your professors, use EGBC, contact former graduates. You have a degree in problem solving and this is just another problem to be solved. So, get creative, be bold, and reach out. Good luck! You got this.


MARK MOSHER, Engineering 

Stay positive, keep applying to jobs, and don't give up. Your enthusiasm will be contagious and employers will want you on their team. Trust that this will feel like a tiny blip in your career and will only make you stronger in the long run.

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