The Class of 2020 – What it’s like to graduate in lockdown

May 15, 2020


Fashion Intern is here to share the stories of how interns and graduates have been affected by Covid-19, shining a spotlight on the sacrifices final year students have had to make in saying goodbye to the life they once knew and the plans that have been stolen from them. The pandemic has thrown everything into limbo and forced universities and fashion schools to cancel final year shows, summer balls and graduation in line with social distancing requirements. Students who were excited about the prospects of presenting their graduation collections at various events or had jobs lined up suddenly face an uncertain future. It is said by the Guardian that “youth unemployment in Britain will reach the 1 million mark over the coming year and school leavers and graduates due shortly to join the labour market will be the most exposed age group to the likely unemployment surge.” 


Disha Kapoor’s experience

Disha, an undergraduate studying Architecture at the University of Bath, hopes to study a Masters in Package Design at the Pratt Institute in New York.

“Some people are planners, who plan out every single day of their life, and some just like to wing it and live in the present. I am a die-hard planner. As far as I can remember, I have vehemently mapped out every phase of my life, from school to university and of course, my career. Being in the class of 2020 has not only been disappointing to me as a final year student but my future plans are now uncertain. I have spent most of my four years slogging away in the studio and meeting deadlines. Graduation was supposed to be the biggest day of my life so much so, I had actually put up a calendar in my room, to cross out every single day up to graduation in thick, black marker.

I had already set my heart on a graduation dress and had planned out my poses and Instagram captions for the most amazing day of my life. Hence, when I received the dreadful email saying that my graduation had been cancelled due to COVID-19, I cursed everyone, the world, this year, my university and so on. Being a planner that I was, I had already applied to New York for a master’s program and had successfully gained a scholarship. New York had been my dream and the next goal after graduation. I had worked extremely hard to get in and was so excited to kickstart my career. Unfortunately, due to the current situation, I have been forced to defer to next year. Honestly, I was angry, frustrated and also heartbroken. I felt like my life had come to a strange halt and I had nothing to look forward to. I had mapped my career timeline and now it just feels I have no control over how and when things will change. I had huge expectations of how my final year would turn out. I had planned about three graduation trips, booked tickets for the most awaited graduate event at university, the Summer Ball.

But leaving aside everything, I thought I still had a lot of time in the city that had become my home with my friends who had become my family. I still remember how I had just 12 hours to pack up my university life and fly back home. It still breaks my heart how I will never get the opportunity to wear a graduation gown and receive my degree which I had worked so hard for. The past few weeks have given me a lot of time to accept this new and alternate reality. It has also reminded me that I don’t have control over anything. I am trying to look for a positive outcome at every heart-breaking decision that has been taken for me this year by the force of nature. At 21, this was not how I imagined I would be living my life. I’m not meeting people, I’m not applying for internships or jobs, I have no idea what to wake up and look forward to during the day. I have always been a workaholic who likes ‘to-do lists’ with a cup of coffee every morning and this new reality is hard to digest. Looking at the brighter side, I have been able to sit back and spend more time with my family, which I hadn’t done in four years. I will be taking this year out to exploring different kinds of work through social media, learning new skills and working on a lot of personal projects to enhance my portfolio.

I felt had come to a strange halt and I had nothing to look forward to.

Disha Kapoor

Luckily, we live in an age of remote internships and job opportunities, which are easily accessible and provide a similar learning experience. It is very easy to be disheartened and frown upon everything that has gone wrong and unexpected, but this is the only time we can focus on ourselves, enhancing our skillset and diversifying it. I’m also excited about what lies ahead and to see how the design industry will react to this ‘new normal’. I will still continue to make plans but what I’ve learnt is to try to achieve them in a broader and personal sense including every challenge and uncertain context. This is what makes the class of 2020 extraordinary.”  

From Arushi Carla’s perspective. A graduate in BA (Hons) Fashion PR & Communications at London College of Fashion. Currently undertaking a Masters in Marketing at Durham University and before Covid-19, Arushi was searching for job opportunities.


Arushi Carlra’s experience

The start of the new decade was supposed to be everyone’s “year”; it was the year we would get in shape, find our perfect jobs, meet the love of our lives and (obviously) the year we would travel the world. In reality, the year had started with me and my anxiety-struck brain processing another “it’s not you, it’s us” affair from a company that (once again) couldn’t afford to sponsor my visa. I was stuck trying to balance finding a job and making plans to move back to Dubai if nothing worked out. Weirdly enough, a couple of weeks before everything shut down, I had finally found my calling – the perfect job, the perfect company – it was almost too good to be true! I reached the final stages of the interview process and was ready to smash that writing task – except the Universe had its own plans…

When lockdown hit the streets, it honestly felt like I had just been sent to my room by some weird earthly energies as a form of punishment for existing. I might as well have been reliving the dreaded years of my teenage youth. All of a sudden, not only was my dream job off the table, my final boozy brunches in London were cancelled and to top it all off, with borders closing left, right and centre, I was now no longer able to leave the country (India, my blessed passport nation closed its borders entirely with no indication of when they would re-open, even to their citizens… charming). On the upside, there were definitely worse things than being stuck in London. The cute little Hackney house that I had moved into just a month pre-lockdown had now become the only place I could safely be and my two housemates, the only two people I was allowed to socialise with (I was honestly thanking the heavens that we didn’t hate each other). 

All of a sudden, not only was my dream job off the table, my final boozy brunches in London were cancelled and to top it all off, with borders closing left, right and centre, I was now no longer able to leave the country

Arushi Carlra

The first few weeks were difficult; quarantined days became long(er), filled with binge-watching episodes of Money Heist and stuffing my face with custard creams. Catching up with friends had me wishing I could crawl through my laptop screen to be with them in person. With all this extra free time, I found myself endlessly scrolling through social media, thinking about how I could be as wholesome as the rest of the digital sphere was posing to be. Surely, I could embrace a Lockdown Glow-Up – everyone else seemed to be doing it! First on the list – the splits. Having been on the Nationals-winning cheer squad at University, I had seen my fair share of mad flexibility thrown around… but you’re talking to the girl that broke her arm trying to do a round-off (yes, I question daily how I made the team in the first place), so doing the splits seemed like a fair achievement to aim for. After 45 minutes of yoga and stretching, I slid my left leg forward into my first attempt at the side splits. With about six inches off the ground, I was starting to feel the burn, and as I leaned over to stabilise myself… snap! (okay, it wasn’t that dramatic) Clumsy me had pulled my hamstring!

With splits training gone bust, I had to go find something else that would glow me up. It had to be banana bread. There seemed to be something about this heavenly baked good that was sending everyone over the edge, maybe I needed some of that in my life too? With all the ingredients laid out in front of me, I began mixing everything together, this was easy. With the batter made and in a baking tin, I popped it in the oven and put sixty minutes on the clock. What could go wrong now? After an hour, I glanced in the oven to notice the bread hadn’t completely set, so I added another fifteen minutes on the clock. Still not done. What was going on?! After ninety minutes, I decided enough was enough – it had to come out now. As I tipped the bread over gently to place it on a cooling rack… it was stuck and the middle was still undercooked (*insert upside down emoji here*). My housemate helped me salvage what we could of the bread trying numerous things to make it work, but it was too late… time of death, five pm.

From Arushi Carla’s perspective. A graduate in BA (Hons) Fashion PR & Communications at London College of Fashion. Currently undertaking a Masters in Marketing at Durham University and before Covid-19, Arushi was searching for job opportunities

As much as I would have liked to say that I came out of lockdown with a new party trick AND a maverick baker (I’m such an optimist), those things clearly weren’t for me! Sitting here writing this, I can’t help but think what my next lockdown challenge will be… suggestions welcome!