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Coronavirus: ‘I thought this was the year my life would start’


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Coronavirus: ‘I thought this was the year my life would start’

Image caption Rebekah Cheung’s hopes of being taken on full-time by a charity have been pushed back At this time of year young people leaving school, college and university are usually looking forward to graduation and planning their futures. But the Covid-19 pandemic has put many career paths on hold and created huge uncertainty in…

Coronavirus: ‘I thought this was the year my life would start’

Rebekah Cheung

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Rebekah Cheung’s hopes of being taken on full-time by a charity have been pushed back

At this time of year young people leaving school, college and university are usually looking forward to graduation and planning their futures.

But the Covid-19 pandemic has put many career paths on hold and created huge uncertainty in the jobs market.

So what does the future have in store for the Class of 2020?

Rebekah Cheung hoped that 2020 would be her year.

The 23-year-old is due to graduate from Glasgow University in Business Management, but her studies came to an abrupt end with the lockdown.

“I thought this was the year my life would start,” she said.

“It was just kind of the idea that this was my graduation, this was my year. I was about to go out into the big bad world. I had all my responsibilities ready but it’s just kind of halted and it’s just how quick it happened.

Rebekah wants to pursue a career working to end violence against women. She already works part-time for the charity White Ribbon, but is worried the promise of a full-time job could be in jeopardy.

She said: “I was planning to go into the third sector, specifically more around charities for violence against women. The hope was that the money would be there to take me on full-time, but now all funding has been postponed until 2021, so I’ll keep my part-time job.”

But while 2020 has not quite gone to plan so far, she’s cautiously optimistic about the future.

“I think I’ve kind of got this worry about where I’ll be this time next year, which I didn’t particularly have before the Covid-19 thing happened,” she said.

“But my mum always said as well that once this happened, it can create opportunities.

“So I guess you have to take that view as well when you’re doing it, instead of being purely petrified.

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Lockdown has given Tatenda Gentle plenty of time to think about his future

Tatenda Gentle is 16 and has just left school to study sound production at Edinburgh College.

He said: “Music’s my life, man, I can’t even lie.

“In the future I just want to do music. People always say like, what if music doesn’t work out?

“It’s like if you want it that bad you can make it work out.”

Like many people his age Tatenda was frustrated by being stuck in doors during the lockdown.

The teenager added: “To be honest, when I heard about the lockdown I was like: ‘That’s fine I can do three weeks.’

“And then obviously every three weeks it was like, well another three weeks, and another three weeks – and I was like: ‘Ok, I’m losing my mind now.'”

But he resolved to put his time to good use to plan his future.

He said: “If anyone is in the same position as me then I’m happy for them.

“Use the time to think. That’s all I’ve been doing – just thinking, thinking, thinking.”

An inspiration for Tatenda’s music during the lockdown has been the death of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement.

It’s an issue very close to home as his mum, Cynthia Gentle, helped to organise a Black Lives Matter protest in Edinburgh.

He said: “I hope we keep seeing these protests in whatever they have planned until we see change, you know we need to see change.”

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Ross Millan feels saddened by the way his high school years came to an end

Ross Millan, from Peebles, has also been contemplating his future after lockdown.

The 18-year-old has an unconditional offer to study international relations at Glasgow University, but is worried he’ll miss out if social distancing rules are still in place.

Ross said: “I’m concerned about not getting the full experience at uni, just with parties, freshers’ week but also learning.

“Doing online, doing a bit at school I didn’t really enjoy it. I don’t’ think it really engaged with me well.

“So having a full year of that at university, where it is already a new experience and I don’t want to be uncomfortable with the online learning.”

At the moment Ross is considering deferring his entry and keeping on his job at Tesco in Peebles until the the autumn of 2021.

But lockdown did deny him a final day at school.

Ross added: “So much of our life, six years at the high school and it just came down to nothing really.

“I wouldn’t say I missed the exams but I certainly wish I’d had a proper send off.”

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Hannah Kerridge has managed to continue her apprenticeship despite the lockdown

Hannah Kerridge decided to take up a career in hospitality after graduating in physiology from the University of Aberdeen three years ago.

The 24-year-old started a hospitality apprenticeship last year which is now on hold, but she’s grateful she’s been able to continue working during the lockdown.

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She said: “I’m lucky that I’m working in a hotel that thankfully caters to key workers, oil workers so therefore we haven’t closed.

“We’ve stayed open and we’ve adapted our situation to deal with the virus, to deal with everything, social distancing, all that kind of stuff.

“So my apprenticeship while maybe is on hold, I’m still gaining experience, I’m still obviously one of the lucky ones that is still getting to work during this time.”

Despite the fact bars, restaurants and many hotels have been boarded up during the outbreak, she thinks there will still be plenty of opportunities in hospitality.

“I wouldn’t give up hope. I think especially the hospitality industry, they are trying, they’re still there, they’re still open, they still want to recruit people, they still want people to work with them,” she said.

“It will, hopefully, go back to normal soon.”

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