Bulldog Bites

News and Views from the University of Redlands

Career strategies for graduating students in the age of coronavirus

Kelly Dries, U of R’s executive director of the Office of Career and Professional Development, offers advice on what students can do now to prepare for their futures.

At the University of Redlands Office of Career and Professional Development, we have been hearing concerns from students who are about to graduate and enter the job market, so I wanted to share our advice for such students and those who support them.

One of the best things graduating students can do right now is to engage and network digitally!

  • Make use of available digital platforms.
    • If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, create one. Employers specifically search for talent and message students through LinkedIn.
    • If you have access to Handshake (if you are a U of R student, you do), create a profile. This platform connects students looking to take their early career steps and employers that want to reach them. Did you know that a student who completes their profile on Handshake is 80% more likely to be messaged personally by employers?  Just this week, we had three different employers who are hiring right now reach out through Handshake to connect with students.
    • Sign up for networking apps, such as U of R’s AlumniFire, which connects Bulldogs to other Bulldogs at various career stages.
  • Build your online brand. Ask yourself: “Who are you and what do you represent?” Pay attention to your online brand and what you are putting out into the digital universe. If you respond to a LinkedIn post or a tweet, how are you showing up?  Be intentional about the image you are projecting.
  • Pay attention to your digital shadow. When you “Google” your name, what else comes up that you didn’t post? Does it align with who you are and the brand you want to put forth? Online presence always mattered, but now it’s being examined more closely by recruiters!

Many graduating students are worried about the job market. There are certainly sectors that are struggling—hospitality, restaurants, child care services, etc.—but other areas are increasing their hires. These include shipping, service delivery, online learning, logistics, grocers, and tech (Zoom, Slack, Microsoft).  This article on LinkedIn, “Here’s who’s hiring right now,” lists even more opportunities; another web page compiles responses on which companies are hiring and which are not.  The Conference Board also shares interesting data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics on industries that are contracting and those that are expanding, noting 60% of job losses comes from food services and drinking places.

At the U of R, we know our students are talented, agile, and have great skills. We have been encouraging them to think deeply about the skills and experience they want to gain from an opportunity. The current situation might help them consider a few more industries than perhaps they originally thought. What we are seeing so far is that COVID-19 will require “career pivoting” and a willingness to try things out, knowing that it’s not a forever choice but rather an investment in skills to build experience for the future.  

Don’t be discouraged. There are things students can do now to prepare for their futures, including being flexible with their plans. For additional ideas, see the LinkedIn compilation of articles, “Getting the Class of 2020 employed.”

We in the Office of Career and Professional Development are here to help U of R students and alumni during this time. Our resources include:

  • Virtual Career Studio for one-on-one sessions on resumes, cover letters, job searches, interview practice, and more
  • A variety of virtual events. This past week we had employers and alumni who signed up to do mock interviews for students. On April 30, we will have a webinar for alumni who might be facing a lay off. In early May, our Education Expo will be held as a virtual expo. Follow us @Redlandscareer to stay up to date on all OCPD events
  • In addition to Handshake and AlumniFire mentioned above, online tools such as Focus2 (for career exploration); What Can I Do with this Major? (for major/career exploration); and Careershift (for job/internship and company searching)

We can also be reached via email at ocpd@redlands.edu, or direct message us on Instagram @Redlandscareer.