WHAT DO STUDENTS NEED TO SUCCEED - DEPENDS ON WHO YOU ASK
By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.
A new research study indicates that students, graduates, and employers think there are a wide variety of skills and characteristics that need to be developed and refined before graduation. Dr. Tylor Behrens of St. Mary’s University conducted the study, asking each group what skills are necessary for success in the workplace and answers ranged from confidence, teamwork and ability to manage stress to patience, networking, and goal driven. But one characteristic was repeatedly emphasized by each group.
Behrens interviewed 152 students who were recently offered a job, asking which personal qualities were necessary to make a successful transition from college to the work world. The top three responses for this group were:
- Effective writing and communication skills
- Leadership skills
- Time management skills
Behrens surveyed 159 recent grads who were hired in entry-level jobs. Most agreed that their college degree helped them greatly in attaining the technical knowledge and training needed for a career. Their top three tips to current students about the most important skills:
- Communicate effectively
- Manage your time well
- Focus on customer service
Finally, responses were received from 166 hiring managers, representing small start-up to Fortune 500 corporations, who were asked, “What personal qualities do you look for in hiring a college student and what other characteristics should one possess in order to succeed? The top three here again point toward communication skills:
- Not intimidated to ask questions
Beyond the common thread of communication, however, Behrens notes that looking at what current and past students and employers think is needed for success differ substantially. Behrens said, “The reasons the answers differed are because the skills needed at one phase of the "career-success formula" are quite a bit different from those at another stage. For example, the skills a student must possess to secure a job offer from an employer might differ greatly when it comes time for that student to perform on the job 12 months later.” Behrens calls these “situational” skills.
Behrens concludes that student success in life and career is based on their ability to master soft skills, transferable skills, interpersonal skills, and these situational skills. His work was recently published by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.
HOW TO TAKE PART IN THE VIRTUAL CAREER AND INTERNSHIP FAIR
By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.
The UofL campus-wide Career and Internship Fair is coming up on Wednesday, September 30. Because of the pandemic, this career fair and others this fall will be held on a virtual/remote basis. In order to take part in the upcoming fair (and also the Graduate/Professional School Fair on October 14), you will need to register and then sign up for group sessions and/or individual employer meetings using the Handshake career management system.
If you have not used Handshake previously, you will need to set up your account and update your profile using your ULink user ID and password. Log into Handshake using the UofL portal.
Once logged in, you will be on Handshake’s homepage. Select the “Events” tab near the top of the page. On the “Events” page, select “Career Fair” located at the top. On the “Career Fair” page, you will see the name of each virtual fair, along with the date it is being held. Choose the career fair you wish to attend by selecting the bolded title. Scroll down the page to see all information including the employers attending. Return to the previous page with the description of the fair and scroll up. Select the blue “Register” button on the right.
If your Handshake profile is set to private, a window will appear instructing you to change profile visibility to participate in the virtual career fair. The Community setting will allow you to participate in both 1-on-1 and Group sessions.
After registering, you will receive an email from Handshake confirming you have successfully registered. You can click on the link in the email to select your sessions to meet with employers.
In the days prior to career fair events:
- Make sure your profile is complete and up-to-date and privacy setting is on Community.
- Have your resume reviewed by UCC and uploaded into your Handshake account.
- Ensure your webcam and microphone work.
- Research employers for which you have scheduled sessions and have two or three appropriate questions.
- Dress professionally for your webcam session.
CLASS OF 2019 RECEIVING HIGHER STARTING SALARIES
By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.
The final report is in from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) and it shows students who graduated in 2019 received a nearly 6% starting salary increase over their undergraduate peers from the previous year.
The salary data was reported to NACE through its national Class of 2019 First-Destination Survey by approximately 356 colleges and universities nationwide and represent data for more than 94,000 bachelor’s degree graduates.
The final overall average starting salary for the Class of 2019 undergrads is nearly $54,000 with computer and information science majors topping the list for the fourth consecutive year (average starting salary of $77,000). Engineering students were second at $70,000.
The academic discipline that saw the largest salary bump in 2019 was math and statistics majors at $67,000, a nearly 9% increase from 2018. Health science majors were next at $53,500, while business majors saw an entry-level average salary of $52,000. Social science undergrads received an initial salary of $50,000, marking a 7% increase from the previous year.
As for what to expect in 2020, the director of the University Career Center, Bill Fletcher said students should be cautious with their expectations. "It is difficult to know how salaries will fare during a pandemic. I suspect high demand majors will continue to do well. In majors where supply and demand are balanced, salaries will most likely be flat or slightly down."
MEGA CAREER WEEK AND VIRTUAL CAREER FAIRS CRUCIAL FOR STUDENTS
By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.
Virtual career fairs are coming up for UofL students. While there are many aspects of these events that are similar to a face-to-face career fair, there are elements that are different. To help you prepare, the University Career Center is holding a series of virtual workshops the week of September 21st.
Career fairs always provide great opportunities for students to explore the internship and job market. During a pandemic-driven, uncertain economy, the internship and job markets will be tight and highly competitive so these events are more important than ever before. You can use Mega Career Week events to give you an edge over the competition as you pursue internship and job opportunities. Here’s a preview of what we’ll be talking about during Career Week, in the form of a series of tips that will help you succeed during virtual career fairs.
- Register for the virtual career fair ahead of time
- Update your resume and social media profiles and be sure to upload an updated personal profile to the virtual career fair website
- Research participating companies in advance, plan who to visit with and prepare questions
- Practice your pitch
- Check your technology in advance to be sure everything will be working when the virtual career fair starts
- Pick a quiet, distraction-free location
- Dress professionally as if you were going to be meeting in-person
- When meeting with employers virtually, be sure to employ good non-verbal communication with attentive body language and eye contact
- When talking to employers, take notes, get contact information to follow-up, ask about next steps and always be sure to send thank you notes the following day
Mega Career Week events include resume review on September 21, training on how to take part in virtual career fairs on September 22, career fair etiquette on September 23, networking post-career-fair on September 24, and virtual career fair trivia on September 25. More information is available on the Mega Career Week web page.
DIFFICULT INTERNSHIP AND JOB MARKET FOR STUDENTS
By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.
U.S. employers increased hiring in August but the pace has slowed and it could be a sign of a difficult economic recovery from the pandemic. It also portends a tough job and internship search for students, certainly into the spring.
The U.S. Labor Department reports unemployment fell to 8.2% in August from 10.4% in July. Employers added 1.4 million jobs in August, but that number was boosted by temporary hires to complete the U.S. Census, and the increase was down from 1.7 million positions added in July.
Some of the job recovery occurred in the manufacturing and service sectors according to the Labor Department. Despite the hiring, the U.S. economy has recovered less than half of the 22 million jobs that were lost this spring as the pandemic worsened.
The director of the University Career Center, Bill Fletcher, said students need to be aware of the situation since it is more important than ever to prepare in advance for the internship and job markets. “We always advise students to network, update their resume and LinkedIn profiles, practice interviewing, explore all job/internship sources and listings, send out applications, and follow-up. But now more than ever, being proactive and assertive is crucial. Students who sit back and wait for things to happen for them in terms of internships and entry-level jobs are going to have big problems in this economy.”
The Labor Department also reported that about 25% of people with jobs in August were working virtually/remotely. Fletcher believes the trend will continue in the future and students need to be prepared for that. “Many employers have made a smooth transition to virtual work without any reduction in productivity. Given the likelihood the pandemic will not end soon and also the fact that remote work has the potential to reduce overhead costs for companies, I think many of our students who enter the job market in the next two years will be working remotely.”
MORE WORK HOURS DURING THE PANDEMIC
By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.
Working from home during the COVID-19 crisis in some ways has been a blessing. But remote work is also a double-edged sword that could have longer lasting implications even as the pandemic eases.
Calvin Coker, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication who teaches a course in communication technologies, thinks we must acknowledge the positive impact of things like the Internet, computers, email, and conferencing apps during the pandemic. “Though this doesn’t hold true for many of the most essential workers in the economy, communication technology has allowed some folks to continue to work even through rigid social distancing requirements that make physical offices impossible. A segment of the population has been able to keep humming along even in the face of social distancing and COVID-19, largely because of technological connection.”
Working from home obviously protects workers from COVID-19. And, flexible at-home work schedules afford opportunities to take breaks and step outside, attend to medical appointments and personal matters, and work at times of day when feeling most productive.
But work-from-home also blurs the lines of work and private/home life. In so doing, it portends the potential of overworking and the National Bureau of Economic Research sees signs of that happening already.
The Bureau conducted research on more than 3 million workers and found that since the COVID-19 crisis emerged, the average work day has grown by about 48 minutes. The same thing seemly happened during the “Great Recession” a decade ago when one-third of workers reported the economy had worsened their work-life balance as they took on more hours.
Professor Coker thinks the current increase in at-home work hours results from two factors. “First, a constricting job market creates fear for security. People end up working longer hours and taking on more responsibilities to make themselves invaluable, or to compensate for reductions in workforce. The second pressure corresponds with moving remote, and communication technology. We’d already been moving towards expectations of employees being ‘always on’ because of email or work chats on phones, and the pandemic has exacerbated that (rather toxic) trend with work being placed squarely in the physical household. The technology facilitates both surveillance of the employee, and increased workloads in the form of learning new interfaces and shifting expectations in the face of crisis.”
In addition to longer work hours, the Bureau’s research study shows workers are now sending more emails and holding more meetings. However, the meetings were shorter than usual, with the result that total time spent in meetings has actually decreased.
Longer work days may be a longer-term trend. More companies have announced plans to keep employees working from home, even as the pandemic eases and society returns to a more normal daily existence. For example, Twitter’s 5,000 employees are being given the option to permanently work on a remote basis, and Facebook plans for half of its workforce to be working remotely within the next few years. They are not alone. A new study by Gartner, a leading national consulting firm, shows 80% of companies surveyed plan to have their staff work remotely at least part-time.
Given that potential, is there something that employees can do to protect themselves from overworking? According to Coker, “Though the temptation may be to lean into new technology adoption, consider making rigid boundaries which were previously set by the work day. Email or Slack on your phone inadvertently extends time working, especially when you are ‘off the clock’ at home. Physically distancing yourself from the technology will keep the compulsion to work longer hours at bay. Delete the apps if you can, or silence their notifications when you are nominally off duty.”
GET READY FOR VIRTUAL CAREER FAIRS
By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many aspects of our lives to change and in many cases, to move online. One more impact for students will be that career fairs all across the country are transitioning this fall from face-to-face to the online/virtual environment, including here at UofL. But with a little preparation, you can take advantage of these events.
Like a face-to-face career fair, the virtual version is a recruiting event for employers to meet with potential employees and interns. Students can use career fairs to learn about current and future opportunities, and to get a sense of the culture of multiple organizations in which they might have an interest.
In a virtual career fair, you’ll have the opportunity to meet with a variety of employers in an online chat room to present your resume, ask questions, learn about the organization and their mission, find out about opportunities and how to apply. In addition to individual conversations, some employers will offer virtual group information meetings during the career fair.
The director of the UofL University Career Center, Bill Fletcher, said it is important for students to register in advance for virtual career fairs. “You should register so that you can then sign up for individual meetings with employers. While many employers will have drop-in meeting times available, you can be sure to have the opportunity to meet with the employers you are interested in by signing up in advance.” Students should plan their time at the virtual career fair by targeting their top employers with which to meet.
In some regards, Fletcher advises students to prepare for a virtual career fair in exactly the same way they would prepare for a face-to-face career fair. That means updating your resume in advance, and writing/practicing your introductory “elevator speech” that describes yourself and what you are looking for. You will also want to make a list of questions to ask employers and plan to dress professionally as if you were meeting the recruiters in person.
Beyond what you would do for a face-to-face career fair, Fletcher said students need to account for the technology that will be used. “We all know that anything that can go wrong with technology will go wrong. So, test your equipment in advance. And be sure to pay attention to the room you will be in during the virtual career fair. It should be free of distractions with good lighting and an appropriate, neutral kind of background.”
We will have more on virtual career fairs in upcoming articles. Here’s a list of the upcoming UofL virtual career fairs.
Speed School of Engineering Career Fair - September 11
Ulmer Career Center School of Business Career Fair - October 9
University Career Center:
- Nursing Career Fair - September 8
- Fall Internship & Career Fair (all majors) - September 30
- Graduate & Professional School Fair - October 14
- Holiday Job Fair - Thursday, November 5
For more information about these events, contact your career center:
- Engineering students: https://engineering.louisville.edu/academicresources/careerservices/
- Business students: https://business.louisville.edu/career-support/
- All other UofL students: http://louisville.edu/career
NEW TOOL TO HELP STUDENTS ACE INTERVIEWS
By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.
UofL students now have access to a tool to improve interview skills. The University Career Center (UCC) is providing access to Big Interview, an easy-to-use online interviewing platform that combines training and practice to help improve skills and build confidence.
Big Interview can answer all the questions students have about interviews. Students can complete the online curriculum and then record practice interviews through the site. Practice interviews are offered in a variety of interview types, industries, and difficulty levels. Students can then share the video recordings of their mock interviews with others to get feedback.
Big Interview provides more than just information about interviews, however. There are also sections about effective negotiation, resume writing, and a guide to success in the first 90 days in a new role/position.
UCC internship coordinator Maddie McNabb is excited about the potential of Big Interview to improve students’ interviewing skills. “We believe students who take advantage of it will find it an invaluable tool in their next internship or job search. We also look forward to partnering with faculty and other campus entities to get students to participate in mock interviews through the Big Interview platform.”
All students with a UofL email address can create an account and start practicing. Login and additional information is available on the UCC’s Interview Prep web page.
PANDEMIC FORCES CHANGES IN CAREER SERVICES
By Stuart Esrock Ph.D.
The coronavirus outbreak will alter how career services are delivered to UofL students in the fall. While some services that have traditionally been handled on a face-to-face basis will move to virtual/remote, career development professionals at UofL indicate there are some benefits to the increasing emphasis in online technology.
The director of career services in the Speed School of Engineering, Mary Andrade, said her office is making more extensive use of their career services management system and for the first time moving to a virtual career fair. “But that brings new opportunities to the table as well. Our career fair has always been limited by lack of space. This year we do not have to cap attendance because the virtual fair is less limited. We may also attract employers from farther away because travel is not an issue. We’re excited about the possibilities.”
Likewise, the College of Business fall career fair will be a virtual event. The director of the Ulmer Career Management Center in the College, Eileen Davis, said demand for services in their program has been high as Business students and alumni negotiate changes in their jobs and in employers’ hiring practices. “The Ulmer Career Center is using MS Teams for our career coaching, resume review, and interview preparation and practice meetings, and we think it’s almost as effective as F2F engagement. We’ll continue using video meetings throughout the fall to keep everyone safe while we help with questions and career needs.”
The director of the University Career Center, Bill Fletcher, said in addition to virtual career fairs, his office is moving more programming online. "Because the UCC serves over 50 academic departments, it is important that we connect with students in their academic disciplines. With the majority of classes being online or hybrid, we are developing career content that can be delivered in classes asynchronously. Faculty can have students review the material then have a Career Coach participate in an online Q&A during class meetings.”
And Fletcher said the UCC is increasing other online content as well. "In addition to Career Curriculum, we are developing Career Bytes, which are short 3-5 minute online presentations. These complement the many videos we have on our website in CandidCareer."
Andrade said the coronavirus outbreak has actually created new career development programming opportunities for the Speed School. “We used to focus on employer panels that tapped into our local companies, but we are now reaching out to alumni in other cities for virtual programming which expands our topics to industries not well represented in Louisville.”
Davis said the College of Business is also expanding virtual programming that is open to all students. "The Ulmer Career Center has launched ongoing job-search virtual meetings and students, alumni, and anyone else who’s job-hunting can join us. We’ve had speakers from the Kentucky Workforce Development Cabinet, LinkedIn, LG&E, and others present topics and take questions about how to be competitive in a challenging employment situation." Job search meetings happen every other Tuesday at 1:00 pm and are live-streamed on Facebook at "ULBiz Career."
Find out more about your career center as follows:
Engineering students here
Business students here
Law students here
All other UofL students here
DESPITE PANDEMIC, INTERNSHIP LISTINGS INCREASE IN 2019-2020
By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.
The University Career Center (UCC) is reporting a significant increase in internship/co-op listings in its career management system during the just completed school year. But while those numbers are encouraging, the UCC is cautious about the coming school year that could potentially bring a tighter marketplace of opportunities.
There was a 72% increase in internships, co-op and experiential learning listings for 2019-2020 over the previous year. Within 60 miles of Louisville, the UCC has experienced 6% growth in these listings since 2017-18 (2018-19 and 2019-2020 were exactly the same). UCC director Bill Fletcher explains the increase as an outgrowth of its career management system, Handshake. “More universities across the country have adopted the Handshake system. So, more schools on board equals more listings, in addition to a booming economy."
The vast majority of the increase in these positions during 2019-2020 occurred during the first three quarters of the year (July, 2019 through March, 2020). With the onset of the pandemic in March, the last quarter of the year (April through June) still saw a small net increase of 24 listings when compared to the same quarter the previous year. According to Fletcher, "the pandemic clearly took the gusto out of the market during the last quarter, but it is amazing that even with the decline, listings for the last quarter were essentially the same as the previous year."
So what lies ahead for the new school year? Fletcher predicts, “I suspect there will be internship, co-op, and experiential learning opportunities. However, it may not be exactly where, when, and how students want them. Flexibility and adaptability will be essential traits for students seeking positions.” Fletcher added the caveat that much of this depends not only on the severity and longevity of the pandemic but also on any potential fallout from national elections.
LOUISVILLE COMPANY TOUTS UOFL GRADS
By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.
UofL graduates are highly responsible and have great communication skills. At least that’s what the HR Manager for a Louisville company thinks. Staci McArter heads up human resource functions for PharmaCord, which connects pharmaceutical manufacturers, patients, and physicians. In the last six months alone, the 3-year old company has hired 17 UofL graduates.
McArter says UofL graduates have excelled in a couple of areas. “It is necessary for our team members in Patient Services to have strong critical thinking skills needed to offer solutions to complex issues faced by our patients and technology skills to navigate our case management system, both of which we feel our UofL grads bring with them. Generally they do seem prepared for entry level employment and do well retaining information.”
A couple of UofL grads who now work for PharmaCord speak highly of the company. Marshall Kellner received a Master’s in Social Work from UofL in 2014 and since he was hired three months ago, he has quickly embraced his new employer. “From leaderships’ transparent vision to a wonderful work culture centered around helping others, it is truly a great place to be. One thing that makes them very unique is by being a newer company, it allows for new ideas and PharmaCord embraces these as potential for growth.”
Josh Bowling received his MS in Social Work from UofL in 2018 and he, too, has been at the company for three months. “This is my first employment opportunity outside of the non-profit realm as a social worker, and I am impressed with the diversity found among my team members, leadership who is authentic in their support of their employees, and the dedication and commitment to assisting our patients in receiving their medications promptly and with ease.”
So what advice do these PharmaCord employees have for UofL students preparing for the job market? McArter said students should get used to job interviewing via video/remote technology. “We expect the same level of professionalism and preparation in a video interview than any other style of interview as this is a representation of how you will present yourself when you are representing PharmaCord as an employee.”
Kellner said, “My biggest advice for anyone is to ‘CHOOSE YOUR ATTITUDE.’ Embrace challenges with a solution focus, take initiative and enjoy the journey.”
Bowling advised, “Be persistent, utilize your resources, and network! To be blunt, the job market in Louisville is very competitive, and it will take time to find a job. Also, don’t be discouraged, because you have the added factor of COVID-19. You WILL find a job!”
According to McArter, people come first at PharmaCord, and that includes both patients and employees like Kellner and Bowling. “We are excited to have provided promotional opportunities for 25+ team members in the past year to those who have excelled and demonstrated a passion for the growth of our business, success of the programs and ultimately the success of our patients getting access to their medication. While we are growing quickly, our focus is to maintain our culture of teamwork, family, and passion for what we do.”
And McArter says PharmaCord is looking to do more hiring. “We are looking to fill Benefit Specialist and Case Manager positions within our company to support our upcoming client programs. While those with healthcare backgrounds seem to make a nice transition into our business, we find that students of all major categories can be very successful at PharmaCord if they have a passion for helping people navigate a complex healthcare process.”
PharmaCord has open positions currently listed on the University Career Center’s Handshake system. For more information, click on each:
BE WILLING TO LEARN AND BE WILLING TO FAIL
By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.
The CEO of a nationwide non-profit that works to increase computer skills among young women urges students to be resilient and constantly pushing to advance knowledge and skills in the workplace. Reshma Saujani founded Girls Who Code in 2012. The organization has grown to include 10,000 after-school clubs around the U.S. for girls from 3rd grade on up. More recently, Girls Who Code has started college support programs, too.
Saujani says the most important things she looks for in hiring employees are attitude and work experience. “Now when I hire people, I don’t care where you went to school. I couldn’t even tell you where 99% of my staff went. I couldn’t care less. I care about, ‘Are you a hustler? What experience have you had? Are you a go-getter?’”
Saujani also looks for people who can quickly pivot from problems. “We don’t allow for our children to fail and build resiliency in the way we need to. At Girls Who Code, we are a big believer in failing fast. So we’ll start something and then we’ll shut it down. It is true that your job could be something in January and something else in May. And so for a lot of people, that is unsettling because it’s like, ‘Whoa!’ So I want to cultivate that sense of - you want to learn, you want to fail, you want to grow, you want to develop. It’s not necessarily about being a generalist but it’s about being someone who can actually do a multitude of things.”
The role of women in the work world is increasingly prominent, and Saujani is working particularly to increase that in the technology sector. “I think girls and women are change makers. I think we see a problem, climate change, bullying, ‘Blacks Lives Matter,’ and we want to do something about it. And I think technology is an accelerator to social change, or it should be I should say. And we need more women with computer science backgrounds who are building the next WayUps and Ubers because we come at it from a different sensibility and a different commitment to equity which I think is very, very important.”
Saujani had multiple careers in finance, law, government, and politics before starting a non-profit. She said it is important to know when it is time to leave a position/field to do something that you are passionate about. “For most of my life I hated what I did. And Sunday would roll around and I would want to drink that second or third glass of wine and crawl back into bed because I didn’t want Monday to come because I wasn’t feeling fulfilled. If you feel that way, it’s time to go, it really is. Because while life is long, life is short. And if you know what your purpose is and what you want to do, get to it I would say. But, that being said, in my need to put a dent into my student loan debt, I always had a day job and a night job, always had a night hustle. I’ve always had something I was working on, something I was passionate about, something furthering my public purpose. So find your night hustle.”
At the same time, given the public health crisis, she said this is probably not the time to figure out your life and instead given the situation, the most important thing is to take care of yourself. Reshma Saujani, who serves on the board of overseers of Harvard, predicts the aftermath of the coronavirus crisis will be with us for a couple of years and that as a consequence, we will all have to get more comfortable with remote learning. She was the featured speaker for a recent virtual lunch and learn session, sponsored by WayUp, a job website and mobile app for college students and recent graduates. Find out more about WayUp at: https://www.wayup.com
CORONAVIRUS BRINGS CHANGES FOR ENGINEERING STUDENTS AND CAREER SERVICES
By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.
The fall semester will certainly be different than normal for students, faculty and staff at UofL. But the director of career services in the Speed School of Engineering said we can all make adjustments to move forward during these trying times and harness the opportunities that are available.
Mary Andrade and her colleagues at the Speed School will be forced to meet virtually with students this semester, and for the first time their career fair will be a virtual event. But that means they may be able to attract employers from outside the region since travel will not be an issue. She notes the pandemic also will impact how the Speed School interacts with companies, and that will also impact how students interact with employers. “You can’t rely on your in-person impression because it might be limited. Follow up is very important and clarity and succinctness in communication becomes increasingly important.”
Andrade concedes that it may be a struggle for students looking for jobs and co-ops in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak. But she suggests students can utilize the crisis to their advantage when they are searching for a position. “There are so many considerations in looking at job prospects. But you can quickly learn a lot about company culture when asking about how the company has responded to COVID-19.”
Andrade advises those seeking positions to particularly focus on one job search strategy. “You should put extra effort into reaching out and building your network. There are opportunities out there. Certain sectors have had great growth and companies are very open to new ideas as we are facing novel issues.”
For those who choose to sit out of the job market because of the pandemic, Andrade warns to not stall out. “This is a great time to build your skills so that when this passes and the economy grows again, you’ll be ready to compete with the many people entering the market again. I highly suggest ‘upskilling.’ All UofL students are eligible for a free public library card. That card gets you access to Lynda.com which is the same platform as LinkedIn Learning (which is also a good investment). You can augment your college education with certifications and badges in hundreds of topics for free. The university also offers excellent technical training through the IBM Skills Academy and other areas through the Center for Digital Transformation.”
Engineering students can find out about the upcoming virtual career fair, co-ops, and career services on the Speed School website.
EDUCATION MEANS HIGHER INCOME AND LESS UNEMPLOYMENT
By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.
The coronavirus pandemic might lead some students to think about putting a hold on their education or perhaps even taking the drastic step of dropping out of school. If you are thinking about one of those options, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has a message for you: DON’T! New research from the Bureau indicates the higher the level of education you have, the more money you will make and the less likely you are to be unemployed.
A new study by the Bureau shows workers age 25 and over with less than a high school education had the highest unemployment rates and the lowest weekly earnings during 2019. Workers with graduate degrees had the highest earnings and lowest unemployment rate.
The Bureau reports those with a Bachelor’s degree in 2019 earned a median year-long wage of nearly $65,000 and experienced unemployment of about 2.2%. To contrast, the median for those with only a high school diploma was $39,000, while their unemployment rate was 3.7%. At the top end of the scale, Ph.D.s median earnings were $98,000 and unemployment was 1.1%.
According to the Bureau, “Each level of education you complete may help you develop more skills, give you access to higher paying occupations, and signal that you’re able to follow through on important tasks, such as planning ahead and meeting deadlines, that employers value.”
The director of the UofL University Career Center, Bill Fletcher, said while unemployment rates for all education levels have increased due to the pandemic, students still have many reasons to stay in school and persist toward their degree. "First, students should take the long view in that an education is a lifetime investment. The pandemic will subside and the economy will rebound. Second, as the data show, the higher the education level, the lower the unemployment rate. Thus, dropping out would put one at greater risk of being unemployed. Finally, staying in college could provide the opportunity to 'ride out the storm' and graduate in a better economy." Fletcher added, "Although the degree is important, making the most of the college experience and developing a solid career plan is also critical.”
UOFL STUDENT OPENING CAREER PATHS FOR BLACK STUDENTS
By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.
A UofL student has created a non-profit organization to help black students advance their career aspirations. Ethan Volk is a sophomore from Bowling Green, double majoring in Business Economics and Philosophy. He co-founded the Eckford Virtual Mentorship Program to keep the door open for black students to the job market.
Volk said he and his co-founders were moved to action as they discussed how to contribute to the advancement of minorities after the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. “We identified gaps in black achievement and black professional success and saw that black students often lacked personal and family connections in industry to help give job referrals and expose them to the type of professional opportunities that lead to the best careers. We wanted to cut the degrees of separation between the black community.”
The Eckford Program is trying to connect black students to competitive jobs and internships through mentoring. “By connecting black students to black professionals, we aim to, one - give black professionals the ability to directly diversify their industry and, two - give students the industry connections they need to become more strategically competitive for opportunities.”
The program is named for Elizabeth Eckford. In 1957, she opened the door for a new generation of black students as part of the Little Rock 9, a group of black students who enrolled at a previously all-white high school in Arkansas. Volk is working with some former classmates on the project including Andre Battle at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Elvin Irisamye at IU-Bloomington, and Anas Gondal at Duke University.
Already, the program has generated a presence on the Internet with a website, Instagram page, and LinkedIn account. Volk said, “Currently our focus is on increasing awareness about our organization, and our members have been reaching out to potential mentors and campus organizations around the country who would be able to assist us making students aware of our organization and the opportunities we seek to provide.”
And Volk said they have met with some initial success. “We’ve had the amazing opportunity to connect with more than a few universities and engage their black communities, most notably here at UofL and at Indiana University. In addition, we’ve garnered industry support in a wide range of places and aim to gain a few more partners in equity here in Louisville.
Volk said the program focused on virtual communication because of the coronavirus pandemic. In so doing, it provides an added benefit. “It allows students to connect with professionals who they previously may have not had access to because of their location. The black student community hasn’t had the same luxury in having easy access connections in the professional world. We aim to cut degrees of separation so that a first-gen Louisville black business student can gain a world-class black professional mentor working in New York or Chicago. This has all become possible because of technology, and specifically developments in telecommunication from this period of coronavirus lockdown.”
Volk came to UofL, initially planning pre-med studies and a career helping others. While he has changed his major, his longer-term plan to benefit the community remains. “I hope to utilize my education to help uplift others in any way possible, and I think that the Eckford Program will help give me hands on experience in learning to use the strength of community to empower people to fundamentally change inequities in existing structures.”
MAXIMIZING YOUR INTERNSHIP & CAREER DEVELOPMENT
By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.
The CEO of a prominent college student services organization says interns can consciously do some things to stand out and maximize their experience. Dan Rosensweig heads up Chegg, which was founded in 2000 and now provides textbook rentals and online tutoring to college students.
Rosensweig has found previous success over the years at a number of technology companies. These included president and CEO of Guitar Hero, chief operating officer of Yahoo, president of CNET, and CEO of ZDNet. He took the helm at Chegg in 2010.
Rosensweig says there are three keys for an intern to stand out during their experience. “Come in with curiosity. Assume good intent until somebody proves you wrong, which means don’t go looking for someone to create a problem for you - assume they don’t mean to. And then if they do, talk to them about it but assume goodness until they prove opposite. And, just be positive!”
According to the Chegg CEO, interns should get to know people at their host company by introducing themself. He also urges interns to take risks and try things they think they might not succeed in, in order to learn. He adds students should not expect that employers think their interns know what to do all the time. “You are an intern for goodness sakes. I am a CEO. I call my friends who are CEOs of even bigger companies because I don’t always know what to do all the time. The goal is to get it right, not to know the answers all the time.”
Rosesweig thinks most students mistakenly think of networking as a short-term, transactional concept where people reach out to others they think can help them get something they want. Although he admits that can have tangible benefits, instead he suggests a longer-term, wider-ranging perspective about networking. “Networking is not a means to an end. It is the end itself. That’s a person I would like to have in my life and I would like to be in their life. And that changes the relationship dramatically. So you check in with people - there’s no agenda. And 10 years later, all the sudden it’s amazing how what you are doing and they are doing comes together and amazing opportunities happen.”
So how should students approach a job market now that is, at best, uneven? “If you can’t get the exact job you want, try to get the company you want and try to get a manager that is going to invest in you. Those two things will matter more than the job itself.” Rosensweig says finding a great manager who invests in you and your development is a “game changer, moreso than your first job…find a boss and a company that is growing and in your direction and the rest will work itself out over time.”
Rosensweig urges students to be flexible as they move into the job market. “Life is about attitude. It is about being open to possibilities. It is about be willing to seize those opportunities whether you think you are ready or not. Life is not a straight line. It is serendipity. If you find yourself in a situation where an opportunity opens up, then you have to be open to considering it.”
He said students need to be willing to fail, but then must be resilient to get back up and try again. “Enjoy the path because it is not always easy.”
Dan Rosensweig was the featured speaker for a recent virtual lunch and learn session, sponsored by WayUp, a job website and mobile app for college students and recent graduates. Find out more about WayUp.
EMPLOYERS ADVISE STUDENTS TO BUILD “SOFT SKILLS”
By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.
The knowledge that college students are building in the classroom is certainly important. But in a recent virtual panel session, employers suggested that UofL students need to be developing a broader knowledge and skill set.
That was one of the takeaways in a virtual Q&A session from the University Career Center, featuring Aidan Keenan, a corporate recruiter for Kroger and Brittany Mecham, an integrated recruitment specialist from UPS.
Both Keenan and Mecham suggested so-called “soft skill” development is crucial. Soft skills pertain to things like how well you work in a team, problem-solving ability, management of people, leadership, and ownership/stewardship of projects. Also important, general communication skills like writing and speaking.
According to Mecham, “We always are looking for people who know how to talk because no matter what you are going to be doing and in whatever career you want, you are going to have to be able to talk to people. You really want to be able to make good connections and good relationships with your teammates because you are going to be relying on them, you are going to be working on projects together. So those soft skills are always good communication, problem solving and working with other people. Those are the top three that we really look for across the board with the recruiting that we are involved in.”
Keenan said a strong set of soft skills can yield short-term advantages for job seekers, but also longer-term benefits. "Connecting to your work ethic, your passion and drive. Those are important skills that will take you farther in your career."
Students should highlight soft skills as one facet of their resume since it has become an important factor that employers consider. What about GPA? Mecham said, “Your resume should show other skills that you have besides just ‘I’m really good at taking tests and I’m really good at getting my assignments in on-time.’ I think it’s definitely a piece of what we are looking for as an employer but it doesn’t tell the whole story and it’s not the end-all, be-all of determining if you will get a job or not.”
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, it appears for the foreseeable future that career fairs will be held virtually/remotely. Keenan said students should prepare for a virtual career fair the same way they would prepare for a traditional career fair in a physical environment. “It might look different but the preparation piece of it should still stay the same. So, it is still dress professionally, rehearse your pitch, really showcase yourself to that recruiter and be able to highlight your qualities. It also relates back to virtual interviewing too, having that quiet space where you can attend the career fair and if you are on video, having a non-distracting background. Take into account sound quality. Look into the camera and have direct eye contact so you are still having that digital ‘handshake.’ Although you are not actually touching, you are still doing that rapport piece which is really crucial.”
Mecham adds students need to do research in advance of virtual career fairs. They should know something about the companies they want to talk to, and also about the positions in which they have an interest. According to Mecham, that can very much help to guide the conversation.
Once those internship or job offers come along, students need to be prepared, at least for now, for the possibility of remote work. Keenan said in order to thrive, students need, “…to have a space that you call your own work space for the virtual environment and being flexible and adaptable to change since our environment is constantly changing.”
Mecham said for virtual work, students should set up a specific schedule. "You don’t have anyone there watching you. So, it is really up to you to have that perseverance and the hard work ethic to get everything done that you need to do during a day so that you really need to set up a good schedule. Another really important thing is to take breaks because it is a long day sitting at your desk every single day, on your camera or on your email, whatever project you are working on. It can get really long … take a break, stand up and walk around, move around a bit. And, schedule some time so you can meet with your team and that's not really work-focused. Every week we try to do something fun like a meditation, yoga, we’ve done a happy hour. Trying to keep some of that team-bonding there and making sure we are getting things done even though we are not all sitting together in the office.”
To watch the full Q&A session with Aidan Keenan from Kroger and Brittany Mecham from UPS, as well as other virtual workshops from the UofL University Career Center, visit the UCC Virtual Workship Page.
PLANNING FOR A TURBULENT MARKET AND CHANGE
By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.
It seems like a day does not pass now without changes announced about public gatherings, public health recommendations, swings in the economy, and a chaotic labor market. But career development experts say that in order to navigate times like these and successfully enter the workforce, students need to be ready to respond to the complexities and the uncertainty. “Planned happenstance skills are a set of competencies to deal effectively with unplanned events generated by chaotic environment (Mitchel, Levin & Krumboltz, 1999).” And the director of the UofL University Career Center says this set of skills is particularly important for students during the Covid-19 pandemic as they prepare for the job market.
Bill Fletcher said students need to focus on the things they can control “We cannot control happenstance and chaos, but these career theories encourage students to plan for, and take advantage of, things that come about naturally. Students can control how they take advantage of these unplanned events.”
Happenstance theory dictates that students prepare for the unexpected, like a world-wide pandemic that creates upheaval in the global economy. In response, career development experts suggest students proactively work on things like building their network, enhancing their interview skills, revising their resume, and devising a multi-faceted internship or job search strategy.
Fletcher said in a chaotic environment, students should also be open to new possibilities. “Being able to pivot and adjust are not just career skills, but work and life skills. It is great to have a plan, but most plans need adjusting along the way.”
In their research on happenstance, Mitchel and colleagues recommend that students work on a set of five more generalized characteristics that will help them to seize the opportunities that become available. These include:
Curiosity - exploring new learning opportunities
Persistence - exerting effort despite setbacks
Flexibility - changing attitudes and circumstances
Optimism - viewing new opportunities as possible and attainable
Risk taking - taking action in the face of uncertain outcomes
Working to enhance these characteristics can create “a good basement for starting off students’ careers with strong human and psychological capital. The planned happenstance skills help survival and ensure success in the contemporary world of work”(Valickas, Raišienė, & Rapuano, 2019).
Fletcher says students ultimately should realize that most career paths do not take a simple, linear route. “When networking with others, ask them about their career path. Look for examples of ‘happenstance’ and how they leveraged situations to move forward in their careers. Most people take a career path with many twists and turns because of how they react to what is going on in the current environment.”
Mitchel, K.E., Levin, S.A., and Krumboltz, J.D. (1999). Planned happenstance: Constructing unexpected career opportunities. Journal of Counseling and Development, 77, 115–124.
Agota, A.V., Raišienė, G., and Rapuano, V. (2019). Planned Happenstance Skills as Personal Resources for Students’
Psychological Wellbeing and Academic Adjustment. Psychology of Sustainability and Sustainable Development, 20 June. Online at: https://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/11/12/3401
ROLLER COASTER JOB MARKET CONTINUES THROUGH PEAKS AND VALLEYS
By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.
The U.S. unemployment rate has dipped downward in recent weeks and while that may offer some hope for job seekers, a significant number of employers are still revoking job offers to recent graduates. That’s the latest news from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).
June’s unemployment number was 11.1%, down from 13.3% in May. The U.S. Labor Department reported that employers added 4.8 million jobs in June as more businesses around the country re-opened. The chief economist for the Glassdoor website that posts job listings, Andrew Chamberlain, said the improved unemployment report sends a “powerful signal of how swiftly U.S. job growth can bounce back and how rapidly businesses can reopen once the nation finally brings the coronavirus under control — a reason for optimism in coming months.”
But, a NACE survey of nearly 250 employers from across the nation indicated that 7.8% revoked or planned to revoke full-time job offers to 2020 college graduates. That number is up from 4.4% on May 1, but down from 9% in mid-June. As a point of comparison, the revoked offer rate reached a peak of 9.5% during the Great Recession of 2008-09.
While the numbers are slightly better in the last month, experts note the unemployment rate is still at its highest level in decades, and they caution that there could be more turbulence in the job market as the pandemic persists and even potentially worsens. According to Chamberlain, "With surging COVID-19 cases hitting new highs in the past week, rough waters are surely ahead for the economy in the coming months as a second wave could again shutter millions of American small businesses and put a freeze on hiring.”
NACE further reported that 31% of respondents are delaying the start date for their new full-time hires from the class of 2020, a rate that has remained fairly constant in recent weeks. In addition, 58% of employers will have their new hires start work remotely, down from 66% on June 1. NACE attributes that drop to more companies re-opening their workplaces in recent weeks.
The director of the UofL University Career Center, Bill Fletcher, said the unemployment rates and NACE data all continue to point toward the need for current students to do everything in their power to optimize their career planning efforts. "It is important to focus on things you can control, such as researching organizations, networking, preparing resumes and cover letters, practice interviewing. Don't fixate on things out of your control, such as the economy, but use it as a form of motivation. History has shown that the economy will improve!"
EMPLOYERS TO ADVISE STUDENTS ON HOW TO MOVE FORWARD
By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.
The UofL University Career Center (UCC) will host a Q&A discussion forum with major employers to offer students tips on getting ready for the job market in the midst of the global pandemic. The “Getting Hired Now” virtual event will take place on Wednesday, July 15, 12 noon to 1 pm.
Panelists include Aidan Keenan from Kroger and Brittany Mecham from UPS. The associate director of the UCC, Donna Lee, said students who take part in the Q&A will find out that despite the COVID-19 crisis, employers still have hiring needs. “As companies continue to pivot with rapid agility in response to coronavirus, they are making every effort to build better bridges of communicating with students to ensure an even more successful transition from college to career. And, they are also doing a better job of training managers to onboard new hires.”
Students are encouraged during the Q&A to submit their questions for the panelists. The event will be held in MS Teams. To take part in the event on July 15, click on this link: https://bit.ly/gettinghiredNOW. Attendees are reminded to mute microphones.
VIRTUAL CAREER FAIRS ARE COMING
By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.
Career development professionals expect that most career fairs during the fall will be virtual/remote events, and the trend could persist into 2021. That means students need to be prepared in order to take advantage of these online events.
In a virtual career fair, employers and job seekers meet virtually using a variety of different platforms to exchange information about job openings. Job seekers typically upload resumes and schedule video chats with employers or may simply browse companies’ virtual “booths,” similar to a career fair in a face-to-face environment.
The UofL University Career Center is planning several of these virtual events including a nursing career fair on September 8, a university-wide internship and career fair on September 30, a graduate school and professional fair on October 14, and a holiday jobs fair on November 5.
UCC associate director Donna Lee said students need to prepare for a virtual career fair just as they would a face-to-face career fair. “For a virtual career fair, you still need to research the employers to see what they are hiring for, just like you would for a traditional career fair in a physical location. And on the day of the fair, be ready to devote the time to ‘visit’ each booth... that means your resume has been critiqued in advance like a traditional career fair and ready to place in their ‘drop box.’ In addition, you need to be dressed as if it is a face-to-face interview because they may ask to ‘meet’ with you one-on-one and you would need to turn your camera on.”
There are some things students can do starting now to get ready for the fall virtual career fair season. If you have not been communicating much virtually, start doing so now. You want to test your equipment to be sure your microphone, camera and speaker or headset all work well. Practice good body language and eye contact as you communicate with others virtually. You should also pay attention to the environment you are in; be sure you have a distraction-free place to utilize. Lighting is important so that you don’t have a bright background that makes it difficult to see you. And you’ll want an appropriate background behind you with perhaps a book shelf, plants or a nice piece of artwork.
As Lee suggested, this is also a good time to update your resume. Make sure it is up-to-date and highlights your skills, knowledge, and accomplishments that highlight your candidacy for a job or internship. Later as the virtual career fairs approach, you can make final resume changes specific to companies with whom you want to meet. You’ll also want to update your social media profiles, paying special attention to LinkedIn since many companies will want to check you out on that platform.
Lee said in a virtual recruiting landscape, students need to be working now to advance one specific area of their competence. “This recruiting landscape will likely not be changing anytime soon so students should be constantly focusing on the soft skills that will make you marketable. Those soft skills include technical/ digital skills. What is your digital literacy? Are you well-practiced with video etiquette?”
But whether face-to-face career fair or virtual/remote, Lee said students can be doing other things now to advance their career readiness. “Career readiness includes familiarity with tools that companies use to recruit beyond Handshake. And it’s always important to research and stay present with employers online”
One last thing to always work on is your pitch to employers. You should practice so that it becomes second nature to confidently talk to potential employers (and networking contacts) about who you are, your credentials, what makes you unique, and what you want to do.
In the coming weeks as the virtual career fairs approach, we’ll have more tips for you about getting ready and what to do during these events.
Internship Coordinator Optimistic About New Position
By: Stuart Esrock Ph.D
Ask Maddie McNabb about internships and she quickly touts a list of benefits. In fact, she believes these opportunities are among the most important experiences a student can have during their academic career. McNabb is the new Internship Coordinator at the UofL University Career Center and despite the ongoing public health crisis, she thinks these experiences can deliver a silver lining for students.
McNabb is a Louisville newcomer but a Kentucky native. She earned her bachelor’s degree in International Studies and French from Centre College and recently graduated from the University of Virginia with an M.Ed. in Higher Education. McNabb has previous experience in fraternity and sorority life, scholarship programs, and business school admissions.
McNabb has already been instrumental in the launch of the Parker Dewey micro-internship program at UofL. This platform features paid short-term projects with employers that can be completed remotely. These opportunities are designed to supplement students' internship experiences and/or provide adult learners and online students with experiential learning opportunities.
McNabb said one of her goals is to increase the University Career Center’s social media presence. “I am a big proponent of meeting students where they are at, and none of us are naïve enough to believe they are looking at every email that comes into their inbox. The opportunities the UCC offers can only be successful if the intended audience (i.e., students) knows about them.”
McNabb said internships are always important for students for a variety of reasons. But with the pandemic, internships are perhaps more imperative than ever before. And she said, students who gain significant internship experience now will have a bigger advantage in a tight job market. “During an economic downturn, internships become increasingly important as a way to market oneself as a top-tier applicant. They also provide an applicant with real workplace experiences to discuss during an interview as another way to stand out in a challenging hiring landscape.”
If you are a student, faculty or staff member, or employer and have questions about internships, contact Maddie McNabb at the UofL University Career Center (firstname.lastname@example.org).
UofL Micro-Internship Initiative
By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.
UofL is launching a collaboration with a national organization to promote so-called “micro-internships” with short-term, paid work experiences. Over the course of the last five years, Parker Dewey has connected thousands of students to these project-based, mostly virtual opportunities, involving employers from across the country.
The internship coordinator for the UofL University Career Center, Maddie McNabb, says there are a number of reasons why students should consider micro-internships. “Micro-internships are a great professional development opportunity, as they can give students an idea of what an entry-level job in their desired field might look like without the commitment of a summer- or semester-long in-person internship. On top of that, every project posted on Parker Dewey’s website is paid, and students can create a connection with top-tier companies they may want to work for in the future.”
Through micro-internships, students can demonstrate skills and explore career paths. Unlike a traditional internship, these paid opportunities typically range from 5 to 40 hours of work, and most can be completed remotely. Project deadlines normally range from one week to a month.
The average project pays $360 at an average rate of $15-20/hour. Each micro-internship is vetted by Parker Dewey to make sure that it is appropriate for college students/recent grads and compensated fairly.
While micro-internships are not as ideal as full-scale, onsite internships, they do provide a way for students to connect with employers and network with professionals. In addition, students can enhance their track record of work experience, enhancing applications for future internships and career opportunities.
Parker Dewey reports micro-internships can result in offers for internships and full-time jobs from the host company, and are even used as a recruitment tool on occasion for those opportunities. Employers who have implemented micro-internships recognize that although the project may be short-term, the projects can be a great way to identify students’ potential and evaluate skills like problem solving ability that is difficult to assess during a traditional recruiting process.
In a time of a global pandemic and an uncertain job market, McNabb said micro-internships provide a great opportunity for students and recent graduates to gain professional experience. “Parker Dewey has cited an increase in activity on their platform during the months of March and April, and I imagine this uptick will continue throughout the summer. I predict micro-internships will continue to remain prominent post-pandemic due to the low-risk career exploration opportunity they provide and because the short time commitment required will be beneficial to students who cannot otherwise commit to a full-time internship.”
Parker Dewey micro-internships can include projects across all departments. The most prevalent opportunities include:
- Human Resources
- Operations and Support
- Finance and Accounting
Students who want to apply for Parker Dewey micro-internships create an account on the company’s website including information about their experiences, education, a resume, and other possible materials like work samples. Once they have completed their profile, students have access to all opportunities currently available on the site and can then apply for projects.
Students who get an offer receive support for their micro-internship in a variety of forms. They will receive the contact information for representatives from the company hosting the project as well as from Parker Dewey’s “Client Success” team. Students also receive a number of onboarding emails as well as resources from Parker Dewey. And at the conclusion of the project, students get feedback on their work.
To learn more and apply for micro-internships, visit the UofL - Parker Dewey website. UofL students who obtain Parker Dewey micro-internships are encouraged to email Maddie McNabb in the University Career Center to tell us about your experience.
CONTINUED MIXED SIGNALS IN JOB MARKET
By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.
A significant number of employers are delaying start dates for new hires amidst the coronavirus outbreak. That’s the latest word from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). At the same time, the association reports most starting employees will be working remotely, at least to begin.
NACE started a new survey of employers on June 1 and as of June 15, there were 135 respondents. Almost twice as many employers now report they have revoked full-time job offers made to class of 2020 graduates (9%) than what NACE reported in its April poll.
At this point, a full third of the employers have delayed start dates for their new hires, most in the range of one to three months. Among the factors employers considered in determining whether to delay start dates were local government orders/regulations (62%), statewide orders/regulations (62%), and whether reliable safety procedures for opening back up have been established (60%).
The director of the UofL University Career Center, Bill Fletcher, offered a mixed interpretation of these NACE survey results. “Although the number of revoked offers has increased, it is still relatively low, given the current circumstances. It also shows that, unlike the last recession, most employers are more cautious about halting their recruitment and hiring, and are delaying start dates versus revoking offers altogether."
Fletcher further points to the number of job postings on the University Career Center’s career management system as evidence of a job market that is not decimated, at least at this point. “The volume of positions posted in Handshake remains steady, and is still above the total for the same period last year. This indicates employers are still hiring."
Almost two-thirds of employers in the NACE study will start their new full-time hires working remotely. About 25% plan for the remote start to last one to three months, while nearly 60% have not yet determined how long virtual work will last.
Dangerous First Jobs: The Problem Of “Underemployment”
By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.
While the global pandemic and a tight job market might lead recent graduates to feel like they have to take the first job offer that comes along, that can lead to “underemployment.” And the director of the UofL University Career Center thinks that is something of which you need to be wary.
Bill Fletcher said underemployment involves a job that doesn’t utilize your education, experience or past training. It can also involve earning less than what is normal for someone with your education and experience, or having part-time work but wanting to work full-time.
Underemployment is fairly common, even in better economic times than we are now experiencing. Research by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York indicated that between 1990 and 2012, about a third of college graduates aged 25-65 worked in jobs that did not require a degree. The NY Fed reported that number rose to 44% of recent graduates aged 22 to 27 by 2012. More recently, 76% of those surveyed in 2016 by Payscale.com said that they were not using their education or training, and 46% considered themselves underemployed.
Fletcher said underemployment can have long-term negative consequences for your career. “There is a compounding effect of starting in a lower position in terms of gaining necessary on-the-job training and earning potential. It is easier and faster to climb the career ladder if you start out on a higher rung."
Individuals who find themselves underemployed face significant financial losses. Burning Glass Technologies reports that recent graduates who are working in positions for which they are over-qualified earn on average $10,000 less per year than their peers who are working in college-level jobs.
The trap of underemployment can be difficult to break. An unfulfilling job can result in you being less than invested in work and sub-standard effort, harming your chances to advance or change positions. And if you are not using the skills and knowledge in which you are invested, those can stagnate and further impair your ability to move into an industry or field you truly desire.
Unfortunately, a significant number of people find themselves in a cycle of underemployment. According to a 2018 research study from the Strada Institute for the Future of Work and Burning Glass, 43% of college grads were underemployed in their first job. Then, 28% of college grads remain underemployed five years later and 21% still were without college-level work at the 10-year mark.
In some financial situations, Fletcher realizes you may have to take a less than desired position to pay bills. But he urges you to be conscious of underemployment and make the best of the situation. "Your first job, whether underemployed or not, should allow you the opportunity to volunteer for projects or take on a new role to gain skills to advance to your next position. Don't get stuck in a rut performing a task. Thus, some underemployed positions may provide better learning opportunities than others.”
Fletcher also recommends you actively work to break the underemployment cycle. “Make sure to identify gaps in your skill base and work to better yourself in those areas. And, always build relationships and network since that can be the key to obtaining leads on jobs that are a better fit for you.”
Other strategies to overcome underemployment include:
* Think about the possibility of a career change to a field/industry that still allows you to apply your skills and knowledge base.
* Consider opportunities you may have neglected in the past that again fit your skills and knowledge.
* Research the market, looking for growth industries like healthcare, logistics and IT for example.
PERSISTENCE PAYS OFF FOR UOFL ALUMS WHO FACED THE GREAT RECESSION
By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.
The Great Recession of 2007-2009 was a dark economic time in the U.S. and globally. The real estate market crashed, banks went under, and millions of people lost their jobs. It took 6-plus years for unemployment rates to fully recover from the most severe economic meltdown since the Great Depression. Now, recent graduates and students who will be graduating in the next year face the prospects of an uncertain economy caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. So, what advice can job seekers who confronted the Great Recession offer to today’s students and recent graduates?
We talked to two UofL graduates from that last economic crisis to provide some perspective. Katie O’Sullivan completed her MBA in 2008 and today works as the Director of Communications at the Nerinx Hall High School in St. Louis. Gavin LaPaille graduated with a BA in Communication in 2009 and works today as a data manager at Humana in Louisville. Both had initial difficulties looking for a job after leaving UofL.
O’Sullivan admits that she had unrealistic expectations about the jobs she could obtain and salary she was going to receive in the midst of a recession. “I found myself falling back on my undergraduate degree in journalism to even be able to get interviews, which made me question if grad school had been worth it and I was discouraged about the future.”
After months of trying, O’Sullivan landed her first job as a spokesperson for the St. Louis County Police Department, although it wasn’t what she really wanted to do. “I just assumed I would do something finance/business related. Ultimately though, my career was permanently altered by that first job. It might not have been my dream job at the time, but it set me up for a clear path forward. And though the timing of my degree was a little unfortunate, I am still so glad I had my experience at U of L. There are so many lessons I learned in my program that I continue to use every day.”
LaPaille found himself competing with older, more experienced applicants when looking for his entry-level job in the midst of the recession. “Businesses were laying off employees and eliminating positions left and right, so there wasn't much to pick from and most were looking for someone who had more professional experience than I did as a new graduate. I had expectations of entertaining multiple job offers upon graduation, and I discovered very quickly that wasn't going to happen.”
LaPaille initially lived with his parents to ease the financial burden of unemployment until he landed his first temporary position, and later a full-time position troubleshooting cell phone customer problems. But it wasn’t the “right” job. “The whole experience was incredibly humbling. I had always excelled in school and had completed several internships while in undergrad, in addition to working for the school newspaper, so I thought I had done all the right things to put myself in position for success after college. But when I started applying and interviewing for jobs and then later getting the call or email that they were going in another direction; I began to realize how difficult it was going to be to achieve the level of success professionally that I wanted.”
In LaPaille’s case, his work toward a fulfilling career path included a side trip for a master’s degree after two years of positions that were just not what he really wanted. “I'd never planned to go back to school, and in some ways, it felt like I was admitting failure when I first enrolled, but I had a different perspective the second time around and the opportunity to broaden my experiences, both professionally and personally. It was after getting my master’s that I was able to turn the corner and start seeing some of the successes I thought would come so easily in 2009. It definitely made me appreciate what came my way later on, and still does to this day in a way that I never would have otherwise.”
So, what advice do these UofL graduates have for job seekers in the midst of a global pandemic? O’Sullivan says first and foremost, network-network-network. “Start making calls to any connections you may have from UofL, student organizations, your high schools, or friends/family. I currently work at a high school, and have had a lot of young alums reach out to say they were looking for jobs. People really are willing to help if they can, and you just have to be open to what you might consider that you previously would not have. I have picked up more unknown numbers since March than I have in the last 10 years. Take advantage of that and make some phone calls (not texts or emails) to let people know you are looking.”
LaPaille suggests to remember that your first job, or even the second one, does not necessarily define who you are as a person. “It's important to look yourself in the mirror and feel confident in who you are, even if you're not happy with what you're doing professionally. Everyone used to tell me it would work out eventually - and it did - but in the moment, it can definitely feel like things are never going to get better.”
O’Sullivan thinks graduate school could be an option for some students, but those who are looking for jobs need to consider expanding the possibilities geographically beyond Louisville and Kentucky. She also recommends potentially working in a political campaign or volunteering for a cause you believe in, to fill in gaps in your resume and also to meet people. Above all else, she urges you to keep active and keep pushing. “We are often told as young people to find a job we love, but that can be difficult under the best of circumstances and even more so in a financial crisis. If I could tell 22 or 24-year-old me something, it would be to recognize that fact. Sometimes we are lucky to find jobs we love, but sometimes we just have to find a job for a year or two that leads to something bigger and better. If you can find something that allows you time to continue to explore your passions outside work, and that shows you what step might be next in your career, those are significant wins.”
LaPaille, too, says above all else, be persistent. “You have to fight through that the best you can. There's going to be aspects of job hunting that seem incredibly unfair, whether it be a position you wanted not working out or seeing others who you don't think worked as hard as you getting to a level of success faster than you. Everyone's path is different, and you never know what those skills you learn in that job you think is beneath you will eventually lead to. The worst thing you can do is give up and quit trying - then it definitely won't get any better. Keep plugging away and putting yourself in good positions, and eventually someone will notice.”
UOFL STUDENTS AND GRADUATES DOING CORONAVIRUS CONTACT TRACING
By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.
One of the most important factors in reducing the toll of COVID-19 and halting its spread will be contacting those who have the illness and then warning those with whom they have been in contact. It’s called “contact tracing,” and UofL is involved in the effort.
The Dean of the UofL School of Public Health and Information Sciences, Craig Blakely, said “In short, what we are trying to do in absence of a vaccine, is shift from our broad-focused state-wide stay-at-home strategy to one where we more aggressively isolate those who are positive and those who have been in contact with them. If we can stop spread at points of contact, then the rest of us are more free to move about—practicing physical distancing, etc.”
Blakely said the School of Public Health is actively involved in city and state contact tracing efforts. “We believe that our students would be great team players in this setting. They have a great foundation and can easily get trained up for these jobs. It would be a great experience for them and a huge resume builder. Some can get practicum or capstone experience credit for doing this.”
Already, some current and former UofL students are doing volunteer contact tracing work. Delana Gilkey will graduate this December with a Master’s in Public Health. The Louisville native volunteered to work with the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health because she wanted to make a difference in her community. “I felt that sharing news articles or writing posts, judging and telling other people what to do via social media, wasn’t making a difference or helping at all. Instead, if anything, it was only bringing to light the inequalities between communities of high socioeconomic status and low socioeconomic status. As a result, I became very intrigued with educating myself on the coronavirus, and I began to feel a constant tug that I should be doing something more to help.”
For Eriqc Lumzy, volunteering to do contact tracing work embodies how he feels about his Public Health major. Lumzy, who hails from Richmond, Virginia, just completed his BA degree. “I am passionate and eager to get involved with public health. I saw this as a great opportunity to have a direct impact on a once in a lifetime pandemic.”
Gilkey said her contact tracing work has been equally gratifying, humbling, and frustrating. “I have had an incredible opportunity to be able to comfort people who have tested positive and provide support to families who have lost a loved one to the coronavirus. I have also had encounters with individuals who were skeptical that I was really with the local Health Department and didn’t want to share any information or refused to comply to isolation orders. But being able to just provide a listening ear and having the chance to educate callers and answer their questions feels like I’m contributing and we’re making progress. As a result of being able to help during these tough times, I have learned so much. I’m eager to keep this momentum.”
Likewise, Lumzy thinks he is having a vital impact on the community. “It feels great knowing that I can take part in saving countless lives and helping us get back to somewhat of a normal life. Prior to volunteering, I assumed that because of the wide spread news coverage, everyone knew how serious COVID-19 was. The lack of knowledge became apparent within my first day of volunteering. I was proud to be providing life-saving information.”
Gilkey has learned an important sense of empathy through her work, and also the importance of critical thinking. “Being able to sympathize with other people during this time is crucial. It can be as easy as providing a listening ear or helping hands. This experience has also proven that it is important to do your own research, to read credible articles that not only interest you but that you also understand so that you are able to understand the impact the coronavirus can have, and to form your own opinion. Most importantly, if you feel a continuous tug to get involved, you should follow that feeling and try to help out where you can.”
For Lumzy, the experience has brought a recognition of what our community desperately needs. “This experience has changed my perspective on the inequalities of resources that make minorities more susceptible to diseases and outbreaks.”
While the current contact tracing work is being done at the city and state level, Dean Craig Blakely from the School of Public Health notes that UofL is going to undertake a parallel effort. “We are engaged in planning. I presume public health students will be in the middle of all of this. Of course, A&S, social work, nursing—all could be engaged as well. It’s important work.”
Indeed it is important work and we can all be thankful, and grateful, that UofLers like Delana Gilkey and Eriqc Lumzy are involved. If you know of UofL students doing important work in our community as we battle coronavirus, please send an email so we can highlight their story.
EMPLOYERS SUGGEST STUDENTS PRESS FORWARD WITH INTERNSHIPS
By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.
Career development staffers have been suggesting that students should not use the excuse of the global pandemic to sit back and do nothing now to advance their professional interests. But it’s not just this group that is offering the advice to move forward. Here are several employers who all have extensive experience hiring interns from UofL in the past. All agree students can make significant advancements in their professional development now, despite coronavirus fears and the economic fallout. And one of the best ways to do that is through an internship.
Madison Hardy is a partner at the J Wagner Group, a full-service events and marketing agency here in Louisville. She says internships provide a great hands-on learning experience for students, while also providing an important benefit to their agency. “Interns are great assets in the creation process as technology and new ways of thinking from usually younger interns help us reach different levels of success.”
Aaron Rosenberg is the Senior Vice President of Business Development for Oasis Solutions and a UofL Alum (Communication BA, 2005). He remembers his own internship experience as a UofL student and the pivotal role it played in his development. “It taught me so much more about the practical aspects of what I was learning and being taught. It allowed me to understand what I liked and what I didn’t like before getting too far down a career path that would be more difficult to alter. So I try to provide the same opportunity to the interns I work with. Providing them with more of a wide-ranging holistic experience.”
Sherry Stanley is the Executive Director of the Backside Learning Center at Churchill Downs, which provides services and support to staff at the track’s stables as well as their families. She points out that internships, in addition to professional development, provide an important cultural perspective. “From a societal standpoint, it is important for young people to gain exposure to people and situations that will help them have a broader view of the world and that will contribute to a more compassionate generation. I think all of us have had experiences when we were younger that were transformative and contributed in a small way to where we are today.”
Hardy said the best interns that J Wagner has hosted have jumped in with both feet and not been worried about how much time they have to work. “Our job is usually not 9 to 5 so having a good attitude and willingness to help is key. This is something we try to evaluate during our interview process as we believe you are only as strong as your team and that includes interns at JWG. We have weekly meetings with interns where we encourage questions, no matter how small or crazy, be asked. Good interns should never be scared to vocalize questions or concerns. Learning on your feet and retaining information is vital in a fast-paced event world.”
For Rosenberg, the key is for the intern to be eager. “The best interns are really just like the best employees. Humble and hungry! They aren’t too big to complete the small tasks nor are they too shy to tackle a large project or offer up a big idea. They want to learn and ask a lot of questions. Throw themselves into opportunities and try their best.”
Stanley looks for her interns to be jacks of all trades. “At least at our organization, it is important for students to be flexible, since at most smaller non-profits, everyone has to do a bit of everything, from IT support to direct services, teaching English, and taking out the trash!”
So what should students be doing now as we continue to inch forward out of pandemic lockdowns into an unknown and wildly fluctuating economy? Madison Hardy of the J Wagner Group said students should be calm and creative. “We, more than most, understand the impacts 2020 is having on the world and could only imagine the pressures of graduating during these times. We would recommend staying hopeful as the world, especially in events, will take time to work itself out. Don’t let your brain waste, continue reading and learning. We all have the responsibility to create a new world or way of doing things so let’s get out of the box and try new ideas, especially related to events and communication for ourselves and clients.”
Aaron Rosenberg from Oasis Solutions suggests students look particularly at remote opportunities. “My advice for students would be to target opportunities that had a well-defined work-from-anywhere-workforce and policies in place prior to the COVID-19 crisis. Somewhere that has been well-equipped to help interns get onboarded and be successful in a remote situation.”
And Sherry Stanley from the Backside Learning Center said students applying for internships should think about personalized contact with decision-makers. “Please reach out and don’t be afraid to be persistent. That is actually much appreciated since we are all juggling multiple responsibilities, and shows employers that you are really interested. If you don’t hear back from an email, pick up the phone! This is something that we feel almost shy about in these days of texts, emails, and social media but it is refreshing and a nice personal touch when you actually hear someone’s voice that cannot be communicated through a keyboard.”
GROWTH OF MICRO-INTERNSHIPS
By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.
Many students know the benefits of an internship. They provide students with practical experience to apply what has been learned in the classroom. Internships also give students an opportunity to network, find out first-hand what a particular field is really like (as opposed to hearing about it in the classroom), and they let students test out whether that type of position is really something they want to do. But during difficult economic times like a COVID-19 economy, a traditional internship could be difficult to find. Stepping into the void increasingly is something referred to as a “micro-internship.”
Micro-internships are project-based positions that involve a much smaller time commitment than the traditional internship. Positions typically center on short-term projects requiring 5 to 40 hours of work that would be given to a new hire or intern, and students receive a fixed fee for their work. Most project deadlines range from one week to one month. Micro-internship projects include sales/lead generation, content development and data entry for just a few examples. It’s an opportunity for students to gain important, real-world experience and get paid at the same time.
The director of UofL’s University Career Center, Bill Fletcher, said micro-internships are not a new concept. “Micro-internships have been around for a few years but the pandemic has moved it to the forefront of career issues as the vast majority of these projects are completed remotely. Thus, students in Louisville could complete micro-internships with west or east coast employers while currently taking classes - opportunities they may not have otherwise been able to complete.”
The virtual nature of micro internships potentially benefits students in other ways. They provide time and geographic flexibility, which is important for some students who may lack transportation or have problems fitting a traditional internship into their academic schedule.
Beyond the benefits of a remote experience, while many students may only have one opportunity to do a traditional internship that could impact their career choices, the micro-concept can potentially open a range of options. The short-term nature of micro-internships allows students to explore a wide variety of potential career directions by executing multiple projects.
The micro-internship can provide a needed, quality alternative to a traditional internship. Fletcher said the reality is some students simply encounter circumstances that don’t allow them to do a traditional internship. “Online students who may have a full-time job, military students, student athletes, and adult learners, most of whom have other time commitments, can't take the time off to complete regular internships.” Traditional internships may also not be possible because of, for example, a student’s economic or life situation, an inability to relocate, or a lack of social capital/networking connections. In all of these situations, at the very least a student can gain some level of practical experience with a micro-internship.
Some schools have started micro-internship-like programs. Northeastern University has a program called the “Experience Network,” in which students work on projects for employers from six to eight weeks. And on the west coast, Stanford University has a summer program in which students work on a series of projects for employers.
Nationally, a company called Parker Dewey has come to the forefront as a clearinghouse for micro-internships. The company maintains a website on which students register and create accounts. Employers post positions on the website and pay rates. When students complete a micro-internship, payment comes from Parker Dewey, which keeps a 10% fee from the employer.
Bottom line is that it appears there will be more micro-internship and project work available to students in the future. Bill Fletcher of the University Career Center thinks not only can that help a student’s professional development, it could also serve as a bridge to more intensive real-world experiences before entering the job market. “Micro-internships are great for students to prepare for full semester internships and to supplement in building skills to fill in around internships.
For more information on Parker Dewey and its micro-internship program, go to this link: https://www.parkerdewey.com/career-launchers.
LAW STUDENT INTERNSHIP DURING PANDEMIC
By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.
Many students are continuing to press forward with their career plans and professional development, even as the COVID-19 outbreak has left economic problems and a tight job market in its wake. One such student is Katie Davidson who is completing the second year of her studies with the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law at UofL.
The Louisville native is spending the summer interning with the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. “Second to the Supreme Court, the Sixth Circuit is the highest federal court for Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. When a case is being appealed from the federal district courts in these states, the Sixth Circuit has appellate jurisdiction. Margaret Lawrence and I, both rising third year law students, are two of the four interns. We were told that UofL students had never worked in the Motions Unit before, which is interesting because this year there are two of us.”
Davidson said it was a shock when the pandemic spread in the U.S. and UofL classes moved online. “Law school online was a challenge. I miss seeing my professors, friends, and classmates in person. I miss the entire Brandeis community. You would think that almost three months into this, that it would be easier, but some days are just as hard as the first.”
Davidson’s internship shifted to remote work since the closing of the Sixth Circuit courthouse in late April because of the pandemic. And that’s resulted in at least some changes in court operations. “It isn’t so much that the types of cases being heard are different, but the volume of litigants seeking release has increased and has been complicated, especially for litigants sending materials from facilities that aren’t processing mail in a timely manner. And now, oral arguments will be held remotely, following the lead of the Supreme Court.”
Davidson admits to being a bit nervous about jobs that will be available when she graduates, given a post-pandemic economy. She is already in the process of applying for post-graduate clerkships with both federal and state courts for summer/fall of 2021. She hopes to eventually work in courtroom advocacy. “I’m interested in many areas of the law, and I’ve been lucky enough to have worked in a number of areas of the law as an undergraduate student and now as a law student. I know that, whatever field I end up in, public service needs to be part of my career…I want to work hard this summer so that I can work toward becoming the advocate this community needs and deserves.”
As Davidson completes her virtual internship with the federal court amidst a global health crisis, she has realized something that extends far beyond knowledge of the law and her planned profession. “The most important thing I’ve learned, or maybe re-learned, is to be kind to myself. This is an extraordinary time we’re living in, and the first step to having compassion for others is to have compassion for oneself. It’s simple, but I am empowered by the idea that I can give more to others by first taking care of myself. In the context of a pandemic, this has manifested in awareness of the suffering around me while also tending to the stress and anxiety that accompanies these uncertain times.”
Davidson is grateful to the UofL School of Law for its support during the pandemic. “The entire Brandeis community has just been exceptional throughout this entire ordeal. The administration has catered to so many concerns, and their hard work behind the curtain has allowed us students to carry on in spite of extraordinary circumstances. The school’s Office of Professional Development has virtual happy hours and networking opportunities that law students would normally take advantage of in-person over the summer. I am so grateful to OPD for everything they’ve done to help me as I pursue my goals during these strange times.”
WILL PANDEMIC CHANGE EMPLOYER EFFORTS TO RECRUIT STUDENTS?
By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.
As employers begin to look toward the fall and possible recruitment of students, it appears they are trying to avoid making large changes in their budgets and staffing despite the COVID-19 situation. That’s the word from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) and it portends the potential of at least some continued level of hiring activity nationally in the coming months, although increasingly interviewing will occur virtually. Those nation-wide trends appear to be replicating in our area as well.
NACE surveyed 300+ employers across the country. It found that two-thirds are maintaining their current staffing levels for college recruitment activity while only 8% have laid off staff. About 39% plan to maintain their regular recruiting schedule, while 38% are taking a “wait and see” attitude about the situation.
Noting the similarities for our area, the Senior Executive Director of Career Management and MBA Programs for the UofL College of Business, Vernon Foster, said, “Local business support has been relatively positive given market conditions. Employers are telling us they are hiring for the future and still need access to great talent. They particularly gravitate to students with well-rounded backgrounds, community service, internship experience, and strong academic performance. They know the University of Louisville has an excellent pool of these students and employers are still reaching out to us to make connections.”
Foster said the recruitment/hiring trend extends beyond full-time positions to internships. “Our graduate programs for the Full-Time MBA, Innovation MBA, and the Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) rely heavily on graduate level internships as a mechanism for companies to identify much needed talent. In fact, we have seen an uptick in organizations reaching out to use to connect to our students for these one year opportunities. Historically we have yielded a very high percentage of the 11-12 month internships converting into permanent positions; a real win for the students and businesses alike.”
NACE indicates that recruiters are using several tools to increase virtual recruiting activities. About one-quarter of those surveyed think there will be a hybrid (mix of virtual and in person) approach to recruiting in fall 2020 and an in-person approach in spring 2021. But NACE said there is a notable increase in the number of employers who believe recruiting will be primarily done on a virtual basis for the 2020-21 academic year or at least during the fall season.
Foster said while there will be more local use of virtual technology, he’s also finding continued interest in face-to-face interviewing if students are comfortable doing that. “We have seen a rise in the utilization of ZOOM, Microsoft Teams, and Skype in the initial phases of the interview process. One major employer uses video interview submissions to determine the students they would like to meet in person for the final decision. All companies stress they are following safety guidelines in live interview environments.”
The pandemic could result in some employers sticking closer to home in their recruiting efforts. NACE reports that 18% are planning to make their list of target schools more geographically compact. Foster sees that trend magnifying here. “More of our students are staying close to home and we are seeing employers do the same – they are realizing the cost benefit analysis of less recruitment costs while accessing the talent they need in their own backyard – and these are the students who want to be part of their companies; committed to helping everyone grow. Closer to work, families, and life-long friends. Louisville will be a beneficiary of the new age. Even in a pandemic there can be silver linings.”
While the move to online classes and remote internships during the pandemic was not universally embraced by UofL students, Foster thinks those virtual experiences have been vitally important. “Our students have proven their resilience, work ethic, and commitment to excellence by demonstrating they can work remotely – a valuable commodity in a pandemic, but of more value in the changing world of the work place as we know. The old norms are falling to the way side as the new norm is established, along with the new adaptabilities of where one may conduct business. We are preparing our students for the future – the new realities that will become the norm.”
UOFL GRADUATE STARTS FIRST JOB DURING PANDEMIC
By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.
You just finished college. And you are now getting ready to start your first job as an official graduate. But the world around you is in turmoil because of the COVID-19 outbreak. It should be one of the happiest times of your life. So how does it feel launching your career during a global pandemic?
To get some perspective on this, let’s hear the thoughts of Jamison Edwards (Economics '19). While at UofL, Jamison worked with the University Career Center as a “Peer Career Advisor,” so he is particularly attuned with what students go through as they advance their professional interests and seek entry-level jobs. Edwards now lives in South Bend, Indiana and works for enFocus, a non-profit that tries to spark innovation and stronger communities.
Edwards' position with enFocus is an Innovation Fellow. “I work with organizations of all types - healthcare, education, government, nonprofit, and for-profit businesses in north Indiana. In short, I work with local community sponsors using a data-driven approach to gather insights that catalyze change and promote efficiency within the organizations.”
Edwards found the position on LinkedIn through a childhood friend. When he received an offer after going through the interview process, Edwards had at least some mixed emotions about starting his position. “When I was originally offered the opportunity to join the team at enFocus, I was grateful, a bit nostalgic, and ready to begin my new journey. Then, I saw the start date: March 9, 2020. My excitement quickly turned into nervous energy. How was I going to be able to present myself to my new leadership team, coworkers, neighbors, and the community at large when I was busy researching, building, and revising my perfect NCAA basketball bracket? After all, this was my year!”
Obviously, the college basketball season and the NCAA Tournament were cancelled for the Cardinals and all other schools as the COVID-19 outbreak worsened in mid-March. That was also the time period when work for most of us changed from face-to-face to the online world. “I on-boarded both virtually and in person. Three days in person but then we closed our offices at the end of the day on Wednesday (March 11). It helped to be able to be in the office and interact with most of my coworkers before the office closed even if for just a few days. Starting May 26th, our summer interns began their virtual onboarding process. For me, that puts in perspective how lucky I was to be able to have three days on site to settle in and get my routine set.”
Edwards said working virtually has been different than what he expected, “but at the end of the day, the job isn't any different. In my role, I'm working with multiple different people at multiple different companies in the area. Although I am looking forward to meeting the people I have been working alongside for the last couple of months, the number and accessibility of video conferencing platforms have allowed the job requirements to remain consistent.”
Despite the pandemic and the necessity of working remotely, Edwards said his new employer has gone out of its way to make him feel welcome and a part of the team. “For example, enFocus has provided us with opportunities to individually grab lunch and then hop on a Zoom call and have a team lunch with our coworkers. Also, it is common for us to just reach out to others and see if one of the other fellows would like to have a virtual lunch. I sometimes joke how weird it is that I've made new internet friends out of my coworkers because there are some that I speak with daily that I haven't even met in person.”
Edwards thinks that working remotely has made him a better communicator. “In normal times, I feel that I often take the ability to go knock on a coworker’s door or visit their desk to ask a question for granted. However, I am now finding that I am becoming much more calculated and concise in my communication. Now, I rewrite and proof even the shortest of emails because the words matter all that much more when you are unable to utilize the social cues provided by real-time, in-person conversation.”
In our new everyday work world, it can feel isolating to work remotely. While Edwards wishes his new job provided face-to-face contact with others on the team, he is making the best of the work situation that the pandemic has created. “Selfishly, I wish our office never closed. I wish I had to challenge myself not to watch March Madness at work all day. That's not the reality. The reality is I am in a new city, at a new job, and, along with everyone else, facing a new set of challenges. So be it. I'm going to continue taking everything in stride. At enFocus, I have found a supportive team to assist me, from a distance, every step of the way.”
ONE SECTOR WHERE PANDEMIC PORTENDS JOB GROWTH
By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.
As much as the COVID-19 pandemic is creating havoc in employment, it is also creating opportunities. And one segment where jobs are multiplying is public health. In fact, the Dean of the UofL School of Public Health and Information Sciences said, “The wave right now is very favorable for public health.”
At the same time, Dr. Craig Blakely acknowledges that has not been the case in recent years. “Public health has been a discipline where the formal public health infrastructure has been declining. There was a big build-up post 9-11, a lot of investment in preparedness related to anthrax back then. But if you remember there was a total of four deaths in the country related to anthrax. And we had made this big massive investment. That investment has been dismantled pretty systematically over the course of the last 15 years which left us woefully short of what we needed in place to face this kind of pandemic.”
With the COVID-19 outbreak, Blakely said public health has regained a prominent public face. “We are very visible again. The vast majority of the population is starting to see the wisdom of investing in public health infrastructure. I think there’s no question that there’s an uptick in opportunity on the horizon.”
The uptick seems to have begun. The Dallas Morning News recently reported a significant increase in hiring in the healthcare sector. For example, ZipRecruiter and Glassdoor both have seen a surge in positions related to the pandemic. According to that newspaper, positions reflect a wide range of skill sets and salary levels, ranging from virologists and registered nurses to front desk workers who answer community questions. Longer term, the News reports growing sentiment for a national public health workforce, similar to what was formed during the Great Depression, to help with prevention, detection, and response to viral outbreaks.
Blakely said there’s already evidence of public health job growth in our community. “There is a bunch of hiring going on. For example, the city of Louisville is hiring for case tracking and contact tracing in the metro area. The state is doing the same thing. The city is hiring 100 people to fill a bunch of these public health case worker roles. We’re positioning ourselves to get a bunch of our students hired part-time to do that because ‘a,' they would be well prepared to jump into that role and ‘b,' they have a great opportunity to get some on-the-ground wonderful experience and be provided with a great resume builder at the same time. Plus, we can include some of the international students that have language skills and can work with the refugee populations in our community.”
In addition to contact tracing positions, Blakely said there will be several other areas of public health job growth. “There’s no question that epidemiology will be a growth area, the ones who are overseeing all of the research. The other thing is that there is a lot of health-related data science, data analytics that is taking off now. We are getting to the point now where we can much more effectively marry the financial records in health delivery systems with the patient outcome records. And there’s going to be an incredible opportunity with the data to do almost virtual clinical trials. We are also very much engaged in health delivery system management activities and that’s continued to be a growth area.”
Beyond the growth in opportunities, Dean Blakely agrees that some students are drawn to public health, particularly now during the pandemic, by feeling something of a calling to the profession and a desire to help the community. Regardless of the reason, he thinks the future bodes well for students of the discipline. “I think the next five years is going to be really good for public health. I don’t think there’s any question that there’s going to be some infrastructure growth in formal public health. There’s a wave now that we can ride for a handful of years. It’s going to be good for students coming through public health. I think it will also be good in a preparedness sense. So yes, public health is in a great place for the next several years.”
For more information on public health careers, go to O*NET Online and type public health in the Occupation Quick Search in the upper right corner. Careers related to public health can also be found at What Can I do with this Major (Public Health). Information on the UofL School of Public Health can be found at https://louisville.edu/sphis.
PANDEMIC OR NO PANDEMIC - YOUR FIRST JOB WON’T BE YOUR LAST
By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.
Perhaps your parents or grandparents worked in one job for the same company their entire career. Could that happen to you, too? What does a tight job market amidst the COVID-19 pandemic portend for you recent grads looking now for a position and those who will soon be finishing up your degree program and entering what could be a tight job market?
Career development experts say the reality is that for most fields, there is a lack of employment stability. In a coronavirus economy, that’s more true today than ever before. To amplify on that idea, the average person in the USA changes careers 3+ times. Furthermore, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the average member of the “baby boom” generation held 12.3 jobs between the ages of 18 and 52.
Armed with that information, it’s safe to assume you will likely NOT work in the same career for the same company in the same position for the entirety of your work life. Knowing that and living in the realities of the COVID-19 world, experts recommend that at this point in time, you should consider career options and fields that you had not previously thought about.
Career development professional Sharon Belden Castonguay conducted research during the recession of the 1990s that examined the varied routes that career paths take. She interviewed a variety of successful businesspeople about what they did during that economic downturn after they graduated college. Initially most had taken what Castonguay calls a “path of least resistance,” in jobs like office temp, store clerk, and restaurant hostess, in order to pay their bills. “When I interviewed them, they were in their mid-to late-thirties, and all had ultimately managed to achieve career success on the surface: gainful employment, and a level of prestige and income that they could be proud to report to their alumni magazines. But they weren’t all happy where they’d ended up. Most were satisfied, but others had continued on that path of least resistance for over a decade. They took advantage of new opportunities as the economy improved, but without really stopping to ask themselves how their interests were developing over time.”
This group of businesspeople Castonguay interviewed largely neglected an on-going process of networking, self-evaluation, and professional development. Unlike those folks who did not feel fulfilled in their careers, whatever your first job becomes, keep working to learn more and better your standing in the marketplace until you find the “right” career and position.
While it’s possible that your career path may mimic a grandparent or parent who worked for the same company in the same position their entire career, odds are that will not be the case, particularly as the nation recovers from the COVID-19 crisis and a tight job market. The path to your final career destination won’t be linear and will likely take many twists and turns along the way. Consider all of the options you have, and think outside the box about industries and fields you may not have considered previously. For now, you might have to take whatever position you can get. But remember that won’t be your last job, nor does that position have to define your career.
For more thoughts about getting a job after you graduate, check out the suggestions of employment consultant Lindsey Pollak.
ENGINEERING CO-OP STUDENT AIDING COVID-19 FIRST RESPONDERS
By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.
A UofL Biomedical Engineering senior is continuing his important work to safeguard front-line personnel battling the coronavirus pandemic. Meet Shah Tarun who hails from Bangladesh and will graduate this December.
Tarun came to the United States and UofL in 2015 as a Biology major and switched to the Speed School of Engineering in 2017. In addition to his engineering degree, he is working on minors in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies as well as Psychology.
Tarun is doing coronavirus-related work with Dr. Jaimin Trivedi, an instructor of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery at the UofL School of Medicine. "I have been working with him on a couple of projects related to protecting healthcare workers against Covid-19 in a clinical setting.”
Like other co-op students, Tarun is using the experience to further his professional development. “I believe that this experience will overall showcase my skill-set within the HTM/biomedical profession and continue to show my determination on doing what is right for the community.”
He is finding his work with Dr. Trivedi incredibly rewarding. “It feels amazing to know that such a project can benefit PCP, ED, nurses, etc. It is even more amazing if you think that this project could help the common person too, making it commercialize-able for the community and providing the need for everyone if they so wish to.”
In a time of crisis, the work by Dr. Jaimin Trivedi and Shah Tarun offers a glimmer of optimism. “I feel like this experience made me better prepare for the worst outcome that could happen in the near future. Overall, it made me hopeful that my mentor and I can provide the hope that our healthcare providers need in these dire circumstances.”
Find out more about the amazing work that UofL students like Shah Tarun are doing during the COVID-19 crisis by looking at our previous news stories. And if you know of any students who are doing work that aids the community during the pandemic, please send email so we can tell that story, too (email@example.com).
USE SUMMER 2020 TO ADVANCE YOUR CAREER DEVELOPMENT
By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.
Has your summer job or internship possibility gone awry amidst the pandemic? Wondering what you will do this summer as you bunker down to protect you and your family from COVID-19? With all the uncertainty, you might be tempted to sit back, play video games, work on your suntan, and essentially do nothing constructive. But an assistant director at the UofL University Career Center is here to tell you this is a great time for students to get a move-on to advance their future.
Mallory Newby says the public health crisis creates a unique career development opportunity. “I encourage students to take this time to advance their technical knowledge/skills and overall professional development to demonstrate to employers that they are being proactive during challenging times and help to gain a competitive edge in a tight labor market.”
One place to start is by visiting the “Learn” section of the University of Louisville’s Center for Digital Transformation to take advantage of a variety of free badging and certification courses. Newby said UofL has several partnerships with Google, Microsoft Learn and IBM to name a few, offering free mini courses ranging from beginner to advanced levels. “There are literally hundreds and hundreds to choose from and if you don’t consider yourself to be the most tech savvy person, look at the beginner level and fundamental types of courses. I would personally recommend the Microsoft 365 Certified: Fundamentals course to gain a basic understanding of cloud concepts, as well as an overview of the core Microsoft 365 services like Teams, SharePoint, and Stream and how to use these tools to maintain and enhance productivity.”
LinkedIn Learning is another good source for additional professional development training on topics like discovering your strengths, personal branding and even productivity tips. In addition, sites like EdX and Coursera offer free college courses that are recorded or streamed from world renown universities like Stanford and Harvard. These courses can potentially parallel a career area in which you are interested or a topic area in which you are looking for cultural and intellectual enrichment.
Newby said to be sure to search or look for "no cost" and "free" in the listings. “As a general rule, most badges are free but formal exam certifications might cost to take the test following the course. UofL’s Center for Digital Transformation recommends never paying with a credit card unless you are wanting to cover the cost for a certification exam. I personally have not elected to pay for the completion certificates and would probably not encourage students to do so either. After passing any badge or certification level, you may still be awarded a digital credential emblem or symbol. Regardless you can still display completion of these trainings on your resume, LinkedIn account or other professional documents.”
Some other ideas for summer career development:
- Think about a possible research project. You may be able to work on something on your own, or possibly can partner with a professor who has an interest in an area you want to advance.
- Create your own summer project. It could be something like writing a blog, producing some type of video, or even starting a small business in your neighborhood. Pick a project that helps you to develop a skill set, advancing and moving you toward your career ambitions.
- Volunteer to do work in your community. Service work fosters leadership skills and is something that shines on your record of achievement.
- If you are thinking about a master’s degree or professional degree program after your undergraduate degree, the coronavirus outbreak and summer 2020 make it a great time to start researching programs in which you have an interest. You can also use the time to start preparing for entrance exams like the GRE, MCAT and LSAT. The UofL Graduate School has information on getting ready for the exam.
These are just some ideas for how to make the best use of summer 2020 as you travel down your chosen career path. For more ideas, check out this article from Washington University in St. Louis.
STARTING YOUR NEW REMOTE JOB OR INTERNSHIP
By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.
In the pandemic world we are all confronting these days, more of us are now working remotely than ever before. It’s a new, and different experience than what most of us are used to in the face-to-face work world. As a result, it could be more difficult to hit the ground running in a new, virtual position than it is under normal circumstances. Since there’s a strong possibility you could be working remotely this summer in an internship, co-op, or entry-level job, here’s some suggestions on getting started.
Realize that your training/on-boarding could be much different virtually than in a face-to-face (F-2-F) environment. Even though you will be working virtually, some companies may elect to have you come to the office for a socially-distanced meeting to get the ball rolling on company policies and their online systems. Others may do your orientation via an online platform like Microsoft Teams or Zoom. Communicate with your supervisor to find out how they’ll handle this important introduction to your new position. Then be sure to spend time with your company’s training materials and orientation documentation. And, thoroughly familiarize yourself with those online systems, networks, software and apps you’ll be using.
During the onboarding process, you’ll want to get a thorough understanding of your role and responsibilities. Be sure from the start that you and your supervisor are on the same page. You need to be clear particularly clear, given the remote nature of your position, on her/his expectations since that person will be evaluating your performance. You will also likely want to set up a regular weekly, or twice weekly one-on-one virtual meeting with your supervisor.
An important part of the orientation period is learning how your team communicates virtually. Is there one or two platforms or protocols that everyone relies upon? Or do different members of the team have flexibility on preferred channels of communication? For example, some organizations might prefer e-mail as a communication medium while in others, an e-mail might sit unread in an inbox for days. If you urgently need to communicate with your supervisor or a team member, what’s the preferred way to reach them? Knowing this ahead of time will mitigate the potential of remote communication problems.
As you get ready to start the virtual internship or job experience, the first thing you’ll need to address at your home is the physical environment in which you will be working. You will likely be sitting more than you would in an office environment where you may be getting up to socialize, go to meetings, or walk around the corner to the copier. If at all possible, have a dedicated work space and be sure to get up and stretch at least for a few minutes every hour. Take a quick walk. At all costs, avoid working from your couch or even worse, from your bed. Experts say working from bed particularly can result in potential sleep problems. You should also establish a strict work schedule and structure, at least initially, so that you develop good remote work habits.
As you begin working, anytime you are not sure about something, above all else - ask! When your supervisor or a team member gives you an assignment, schedule some type of virtual meeting to discuss the project, your role, what you need to accomplish, to be clear on deadlines, and to understand how it fits into the larger goals of the organization. This doesn’t have to be an exhaustive meeting. But it is particularly important in the virtual/remote situation because it’s not as easy as walking around the corner, popping into your supervisor’s office and asking a question about something if you are working F-2-F. If something comes up you don’t understand, get in contact with your supervisor or a team member to clarify the issue.
Now that you are working on projects, get to know your colleagues and remind people who you are. Since you won’t be meeting up with people F-2-F in the hallway or lunchroom, you will likely have to make an effort to introduce yourself a couple of times so people in the organization remember who you are and what you are doing. Specifically ask for feedback from team members and your supervisor. You’ll need to be intentional about that in the virtual environment, as opposed to the F-2-F office where you can more casually ask about your work. And, get to know team members as people, too. At appropriate points in time, ask them about what they do, what their degree is in, and ask for advice. In that way you’ll also begin to build a network of contacts. At some point it can be really beneficial to schedule a video chat for coffee or a happy hour to just have a casual conversation.
Pay attention to the prevailing style of communication by team members, then try to emulate that tone in your messaging. If communication within the organization is formal, you’ll want to avoid using casual language, slang terms, sentence fragments, emojis, other graphic images, etc. Be clear and concise in your written communication dealing with projects and work issues/matters. If you are speaking during a video or phone conference, be sure to identify yourself if there are team members in the meeting who may not know you, and be specific about what you are asking or want to discuss.
We all know that when it comes to technology, anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. So what are you going to do if your computer gets a virus or crashes? If you lose power or the Internet goes down, how are you going to handle that situation? Think about the “what if” scenarios in advance so you can react quickly if a problem arises.
Lastly, virtual technology creates the potential that we are on-call 24 hours/day. But experts tell us that we are all more productive and less stressed out if we unplug from our technology for at least a few hours each day and if we also get away from our work. Sure, there are times when we all have to do some extra work to finish a project that’s on deadline. But, having a regular work routine and schedule will protect you from getting burned out.
For additional perspective and more tips on getting started on your new remote internship or job, you can read more at the following links:
Tips for Remote Employees Starting a New Job by Robert Half
First Day At Your Remote Job? Here’s Everything You Need To Know by Fast Company
ENGINEERING STUDENT WORKING ON CORONAVIRUS PROJECT
By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.
A UofL engineering student is continuing his work with an Owensboro company that is working on a potential COVID-19 vaccine. Dustin Williams is in the second year of the chemical engineering program and is doing a co-op with Kentucky BioProcessing (KBP), a U.S. subsidiary of British American Tobacco.
Pre-clinical testing is underway on the potential vaccine, using fast-growing tobacco plant technology. According to KBP, tobacco plants offer the potential for faster and safer vaccine development compared to conventional methods. If testing goes well, the company is hopeful that between 1 and 3 million doses of the vaccine could be manufactured per week, beginning in June. KBP remains a commercial operation but its work around the COVID-19 vaccine project will be carried out on a not-for-profit basis.
While Williams can’t talk about the specifics of his confidential work, he remains in Owensboro working on this important project. “We're still on site, and we're taking care to apply strict social distancing policies based on guidance from state and federal government agencies.”
Williams realizes the COVID-19 outbreak has created a unique opportunity for his professional growth. “The cooperative education program is meant to give students some engineering work experience while they're still in school, but this experience has also given me the opportunity to work on something truly important and impactful early in my career. I'm sure that's something many students worry about: struggling to find a meaningful path forward using their education.”
Williams has learned a great deal during his co-op. “It's has a lot more to do with advanced chemistry and biology than most chemical engineering co-ops, and I've learned many skills and concepts that I wouldn't have imagined learning. So my trajectory is a lot different than I expected, but I'm thankful to be here, and to be doing important work. I would also love to keep growing my skillset in this sector.”
But the lessons learned in Williams’ co-op extend beyond the application of chemical engineering knowledge. “For me, this experience has helped me compartmentalize -- to draw the line between free time and crunch time, to tell the difference between an opportunity to learn or innovate and something that just needs to get done.”
Williams credits his KBP colleagues for making him a part of the team and for the important work they are doing to find a COVID-19 vaccine. “I’ve developed a deep appreciation for my relationships with my coworkers. During a time when many of us are struggling to fulfill those social needs in our lives, I cherish being able to come in and work alongside some of the brightest, most hardworking people I've ever known.”
Dustin Williams and the team at KBP in Owensboro give us hope that we’ll come out together on the other side of the pandemic. If you know of other UofL students like Dustin doing work to currently benefit our community as we fight coronavirus, please email that information so we can tell more of these stories (firstname.lastname@example.org).
JOB/INTERNSHIP SEARCHING DURING COVID-19 OUTBREAK - PART #1
By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.
ANOTHER UOFL STUDENT MAKING A DIFFERENCE
By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.
Meet Josh Osborne, yet another Cardinal doing great work in our community during the COVID-19 crisis while simultaneously benefiting his career development. Josh is from Louisville and is graduating with an English major and Spanish minor. Most important, he is making an important contribution now to the Backside Learning Center at Churchill Downs.
The Backside Learning Center is a non-profit that works with and assists equine workers at the racetrack, many of whom speak little English, as well as their families. Josh had been teaching English-as-a-second language courses to kids and families at the Center but that changed when the coronavirus hit. “We have shifted our focus from offering adult and children English classes to focusing on getting the families that are in need the food, diapers, and encouragement that is needed to survive in these troubling times.”
Osborne has experienced professional and personal growth through this work. “It’s helped me understand that I can overcome any adversity. It has been difficult to adjust to the rapid changing semester to be able to adjust to the changing workspaces, classes, and home life. Doing homework and being productive has proven challenging but I am pleased with the outcomes of my efforts.”
Gaining confidence that he could teach and advancing that skill set has been an important benefit for Osborne. Beyond that, his selfless service to the Backside Learning Center carried a far more important lesson. “After the virus, I was taught that even though things are falling apart for me, I can still do something to help the community and it makes me feel good in a time of the stressful unknown…If I can take one thing away from my time at the Backside Learning Center, it is that I, as one person, can team up with other individuals and make a major difference in the community. It doesn’t take money or a lot of time and effort to help people, all it takes is initiative and the desire to do good. Everyone who works at the center is so dedicated to their work that it is impossible to not be inspired to merely be in their presence, especially when you have a hand in helping the community as well.”
It is hard for any member of the UofL family to not be proud of the work that students like Josh Osborne are doing for our community - well done Josh and congratulations on your graduation! If you know of a Cardinal doing important work, drop an email to Stuart Esrock so we can tell that story.
JOB/INTERNSHIP SEARCHING DURING COVID-19 OUTBREAK - PART #1
By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.
The coronavirus crisis has all of us stressed out and anxious. For students looking for their first entry-level job or an internship and for those who have been laid-off and are looking for a new position, the mental strain is likely high. In a situation like this with so much uncertainty, it can be easy for someone to get overwhelmed and decide to sit back and do nothing. The associate director of the UofL University Career Center urges you to fight that impulse.
Donna Lee notes the hiring process will be different amidst the situation but still, you can, and should, press forward. “To find a job is a job. When do you start? Now!” Remember there’s still lots of hiring going on now, particularly in industries like health care, logistics and supply chain companies. See this previous article for more.
As you start your job or internship search, you need to get into the right mindset. Don’t feel sorry for yourself that the marketplace is uncertain and prospects may be slow in developing. Pay attention to your mental health and focus on building your confidence since it shows in interviews. Remind yourself what you are good at and why you are good at it so you can communicate that to potential employers. Lee said, “A student should be their own mini advertising agency and they only have one product - themselves. No one can sell their skills and competencies to an employer as well as they can.”
Lee thinks you need to stay up-to-date on the rapidly changing trends in the industries that interest you. “Where is the top market/ area for what you want to do? Where are the jobs? Are there additional skills that you need to be researching?”
Given the COVID-19 outbreak, at least at this point it is important for you to be nimble and adaptable. You may need to pivot for the time being from an exact planned career path. Focus on your skills and what industries they can be valued in, even if different from what you originally planned. Remember your first job almost certainly will not be your last job since the average person changes careers multiple times.
Be sure your resume and LinkedIn profile are dialed up. Place emphasis on those key points of what you are good at doing and your accomplishments. According to Lee, “A student should know what unique skills and competencies make them more marketable than their competition.” You can work with your UofL career center on resumes and LinkedIn profiles.
You also will need to be ready to send a cover letter for applications and while a basic template is desirable, you’ll need to go beyond that according to Lee. “One size does not fit all. You will need to tailor the cover letter and more than likely tweak your resume for every position you apply for. Your cover letter is your opportunity to connect the dots for the employer. If they want someone to juggle balls, tame lions and breathe fire, what have you done in the past that illustrates that?”
You need to check in regularly with the specific career management platform position listings from your UofL career center. In addition, you should make regular visits to all of the major job posting platforms like Indeed, Career Builder, Glassdoorm, Monster, Zip Recruiter, and so forth. Check all the localized and regionalized listings you can find as well - in Louisville, the Kentuckiana Works website is making regular additions to its listings and you can also see statewide opportunities through the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce website.
It is likely you will be interviewing (and subsequently working), at least at this point, remotely. Lee says, “Familiarize yourself with these technologies to prepare for the interview process. Microsoft Team Meets, Zoom, High View, Blue Jeans and Skype are the most popular platforms.” You can practice virtual interviews through the InterviewStream online tool available through the University Career Center.
No one is suggesting that this is going to be easy, particularly given the current public health crisis. According to Lee, “Are you ready/committed to put in the work? Some people may submit one resume, get an interview and secure a position. Others may need to submit numerous resumes and have multiple interviews before they land a position. So, be patient and stay positive.”
If you are not proactive and persistent, you are not going to have success in this job marketplace, or for that matter even in a strong job market. Donna Lee of the University Career Center reminds you; “Work with your UofL career center. Upload a critiqued resume into the employer database from your career center. Attend virtual career events and workshops. Attend employer networking events (future events may be virtual). Attend career fairs (future events may be virtual).” With some preparation, effort, and perhaps a little dose of luck, you will find yourself in the right place at the right time to obtain your internship or job.
When searching for opportunities, it is also always important to network. Nationally, about 70% of college students find out about their first entry-level job via a networking contact. That strategy becomes crucial in times like these where the market you encounter could be tight. We’ll have more on networking and job searching in the COVID-19 economy in an upcoming news story. And, stay tuned for news about an upcoming virtual workshop on the topic as well.
STUDENT TEACHING DURING THE COVID-19 CRISIS
By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.
Life goes on in K-12 schools around the nation despite the spread of the coronavirus, but obviously in a much different online format. That means teachers across the country are learning on the fly about how best to virtually conduct their classes, assign projects, test and evaluate their students. It also creates a challenge and new environment for the many UofL education students who are now doing their student teaching. Meet two of those students; Hannah Kemper and Erica Barlow.
Kemper is a senior from Louisville, majoring in Elementary Education. She has been doing her student teaching with kindergartners at a Jefferson County Public School, Farmer Elementary. When JCPS moved to online instruction, Kemper’s daily routine changed accordingly. “Now, each week we meet with our class on Google meets to check-in; this is the best part of every week. The students receive work every Friday for the upcoming week through Google Classroom. We are also using Seesaw in Kindergarten. It is an app where you can design creative activities for the students to complete. Once they are graded, the other students can see each others work and comment to one another.”
Kemper said the experience is making her much more technologically savvy and she has gained a level of expertise in developing online work and activities. But, she also concedes that nothing replaces face-to-face contact with students. “The students are what makes teaching such a unique and incredible job. I am always thinking of them and wondering how they are doing each day. It has amazed me how quickly the students have adapted, especially being so young. It is awesome to see!”
Erica Barlow is also a senior from Louisville who is getting ready to graduate with a degree in Early Elementary Education. And she, too, is doing her student teaching at Farmer Elementary. Barlow’s work since the pandemic hit has revolved around planning online lessons, grading assignments, providing students with feedback remotely, and leading weekly virtual meetings.
Barlow says it has been more difficult to teach in the online environment versus face-to-face. “There was a definite learning curve going from in-person instruction to completely online. I had to spend hours learning from other teachers and watching PD videos on how to use applications like Screencastify, Seesaw, Google Suite, etc. Nothing will replace the excitement and joy that comes from teaching F-2-F, but I am appreciative of the opportunity to become more fluent in digital teaching and learning.”
Barlow acknowledges the experience has changed her, not only as an educator but also as a person. “I think my perspective on what is truly important and what is a luxury has changed. I also have a newfound thankfulness for technology and for how it has allowed me to stay in touch with my friends and family throughout all of this.” She also gives a special shout-out to her mentor teacher, Gina Kimery. Like so many wonderful public educators, Barlow says Kimery has made the best of the COVID-19 situation. “When things switched to online learning, she did not miss a beat and continued to push me and help me to grow. This has become such a highlight of my student teaching career, largely because of her support and encouragement.”
Hannah Kemper and Erica Barlow are just two more Cardinals doing tremendously important work that benefits our community as we continue to fight the pandemic. Thanks for everything that you are both doing! If you know of a UofL student doing great things now, drop a line to Stuart Esrock so we can tell that story, too.
VIRTUAL MEETING ETIQUETTE
By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.
As we bunker down in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, many of us increasingly find ourselves in online meetings. We are using platforms like Microsoft Teams, Zoom, FaceTime, GoToMeeting, and more for work, school, and for socializing. But, an assistant director at the UofL University Career Center thinks that you need to behave differently, depending on whether you are using these conferencing tools for fun or for serious purposes. Mallory Newby has tips for those occasions when you will be conferencing for work with your supervisor and members of your team.
Sure anything goes when you are getting together with your friends for a Zoom happy hour, although it can be annoying when everyone tries to talk at the same time. On the other hand, Newby said when you are going to be in a meeting for work, always be sure to mute your microphone when you are not speaking. “Background noises at your home and things like coughs, throat clearing, etc. will become a distraction to the meeting. This will require you to be attentive during the meeting and unmuting when you are called upon to talk.”
Newby thinks it is important to give your full attention to the meeting, treating it just like you would if you were in the same room. “Avoid working on other tasks, checking your email or texts as tempting as it may be, as you never know when it might be your turn to provide an update. You might also miss something important that someone else is saying. Look into the camera when speaking as opposed to the screen; doing otherwise makes it appear you are looking off or away from the attendees.”
Another tip is to NOT use your keyboard during a meeting. Because your computer microphone is close to the keyboard, that tapping sound can be distracting to others if your mike is on. If you need to take notes, better to do so the old fashioned way; with a pen and piece of paper. And have something to eat BEFORE your meeting; nothing worse than watching someone munching away in the midst of an important discussion.
Newby advises you to be conscious of your surroundings and how you’ll look on camera. Make sure your background is appropriate and professional as opposed to using your disheveled bedroom for example. Take a few minutes before your virtual meeting to look like you are working. Better that you are wearing a clean shirt and have brushed your hair than to let your co-workers see you in your jammies with bedhead. “And, make sure that you are in a place with good lighting, raise your camera so that it is at eye level; your table is likely to be lower than your face, and looking down at your screen is not a flattering angle. You can use a set of books to use as a platform to get your phone or computer camera to eye level.”
Newby’s last piece of virtual meeting advice: “Don’t slouch but get comfortable - you may be there for a while.”
For more advice in a graphic format about virtual meeting etiquette, check out this graphic provided by the Manheim Central School District in Pennsylvania:
Here’s a link to a recent workshop about online etiquette from the University Career Center.
And you can also always get advice about online business etiquette from your UofL career centers in the College of Business, Speed School, Law School, and the University Career Center.
EMPLOYERS ARE HIRING DESPITE COVID-19
By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.
Check out the Handshake Blog on COVID-19 Higher Ed Recruitment Trends for more on what students and employers are doing now in the job market.
STUDENT CONTINUES WORKING WITH REFUGEE POPULATION AMIDST COVID-19
By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.
Here is another in our series of stories about UofL students continuing to do incredibly important work for our community, even as the coronavirus spreads throughout the country. Meet Prospect, Kentucky senior Arabella Werner who is interning with Kentucky Refugee Ministries.
Arabella has been working as a Spanish ESL instructor for Cuban refugees and also did some interpretation work for her students. As the pandemic problems increased, she had to leave the classroom and the face-to-face work she was doing with students, switching to other tasks that do not require direct contact. “Now, I primarily conduct practice interviews for the citizenship test with refugees via telephone. I also utilize Spanish interpreting skills during the interviews. Now I work remotely from my back porch. It is definitely an adjustment. I am grateful, however, that I am able to continue my work remotely, despite the crisis.”
Arabella says she has benefitted greatly from her internship with Kentucky Refugee Ministries. “My Spanish speaking skills have improved and my interpersonal communication skills have been refined. As a Communication major and Spanish minor, I believe this internship has also aided me in seriously considering my career path. I plan on entering the public relations and sales field, while also utilizing my Spanish speaking abilities. I am hoping medical interpreting, alongside medical sales will provide me with both aspects.”
But perhaps more important, Arabella has grown as a human being. “Every day I entered my ESL classroom or pick up the telephone to conduct an interview, I have been overwhelmed with joy. It has been a fulfilling opportunity to contribute to the needs of refugees. My cultural awareness and overall perspective have been enhanced by my hardworking, humorous, and resilient students.”
Arabella Werner is yet another UofL students who makes us all proud to be a Cardinal - thanks very much for what you are doing! If you know of a student doing great work in our community in the midst of the coronavirus crisis, please send an email to Stuart Esrock so we can tell that story as well.
By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.
With more virtual interviews for full-time positions and internships, plus more remote work positions, your communication techniques and style in the online environment are more important than ever. But an assistant director at the UofL University Career Center warns that many students become complacent about their virtual communication habits. That said, Rosie Shannon says practice makes perfect and that by being conscious about Internet Etiquette or “Netiquette,” you can develop a style that will enhance your ability to communicate and reflect well on your persona.
Shannon says the first rule of Netiquette is to be nice. “Remember that whatever you send from your keyboard or your phone is still an extension of you, even though you're not with others in person. So, be kind, courteous, and respectful. It’s just as important to show good manners online as it always has been.”
You should avoid saying something online that is negative. “This includes everything—about your employer, your former employer, your boss, your coworkers, instructors, etc...everything and everybody. You never know what may wind up being forwarded, whether it’s intentional or an accidental slip of the finger on the ‘send’ button.” Shannon suggests that if you are unsure of anything you’ve typed, hold it in draft mode and read it later before releasing the email or post. “Doing otherwise could jeopardize your opportunity for a promotion, or worse, your current job.”
Then there is the matter of the lost art of grammar and spelling. “They do matter! Your written communication should be professional and reflect proper writing style. Save written shortcuts and less than stellar grammar for Snapchat and your friends if you must. But follow grammar rules when reaching out to networking contacts and potential employers. And don’t become complacent relying only on spellcheck since, for example, it doesn’t know the difference between ‘there’ and ‘their.’”
Shannon says to keep written communication with your contacts concise and to the point. “Always start your message with a short introduction, main content, and then a quick conclusion which should always include a thank-you.”
Other tips that experts recommend you should think about in the online environment:
- Consider others’ privacy
- Avoid inappropriate material
- Be forgiving
As Shannon points out, if you strive to be consistent with your online communication, your style will not only ensure that your messages are clearly received but that also, those message recipients will think well of you.
Since more of us are using tools like Zoom and Microsoft Teams for work and internship-related projects, in a future article we’ll address the issue of proper behavior during these online meetings. For more reading now on Netiquette and workplace etiquette, check out these links:
And remember that your UofL career centers in the College of Business, Speed School, Law School, and the University Career Center are always there to assist you on workplace-related issues like this. Find your career center here.
USING LINKEDIN TO ITS FULLEST POTENTIAL
By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.
LinkedIn has become an important online tool in the professional world. Founded in 2002, there are now nearly 600 million global users including 130 million+ in the United States, as well as 30 million companies. More than 100 million people access the platform each day to make connections and to look into job and internship opportunities.
With that ubiquity, it’s imperative that students who will be looking for an internship or full-time job get a LinkedIn account if you don’t already have one. And, you also need to make sure your LinkedIn account takes advantage of the platform to its fullest potential. Now, while we are all on lockdown in our homes, it is a great time to do some work on your LinkedIn account and experts have a number of tips for you in that regard.
First and foremost, keep in mind that you are a brand of one. Everything you have in your LinkedIn profile is a reflection of you and helps to build your brand. So think about what overall image you want to convey about yourself to those reading your profile and then be sure that everything in your profile goes toward building your brand.
As you build or make changes to your profile, remember that it is important to have a good photograph. Why is that photo important? We’re told that LinkedIn profiles with photos get 21 times more views and 36 times more messages than profiles without photos. As opposed to some social media photos that are overly glamorized, make sure your LinkedIn photo looks like you if someone were to meet you in person. Be the only person in the photo and make sure you don’t have a distracting background. Ideally, you want a head and shoulders shot that constitutes the majority of the image. A smile is desirable over a serious shot. And while you don’t have to use a “professional” photo, don’t rely on a selfie; have someone take the picture of you for use in your profile.
Your LinkedIn headline is also crucial since that’s the first thing someone will likely read. Highlight what makes you unique and helps to sell you to the reader. It’s like your elevator speech, boiled down to 120 characters.
As is the case with resumes, start sentences and phrases with action-verbs. Using phrases like “developed,” “started,” “implemented,” “analyzed,” “managed,” etc. subtly communicates a positive message that reflects well on your brand.
Make sure your education section is complete. Failure to complete this section can raise red flags, as can overly grandiose language that raises suspicions about you possibly overstating your credentials. Be honest and straightforward, but do take credit for what you’ve done.
In that regard, the activities and work you have done at your university and in your community says important things about you and potentially reflect well on your brand. Don’t be shy about these experiences - they may also help you to make a connection with an individual who has similar interests or experiences.
It is appropriate to post specific work to your LinkedIn profile that may show special talents you have. Design work, photography, videography, and audio skills, for example, may be relevant to the message you are trying to convey to potential employers and contacts.
Once you have built your profile to best reflect your brand, you’ll want to make connections via LinkedIn. To increase your connections, select “Full Profile” for Profile Viewing Options under the Privacy tab. When trying to network with individuals, always send a brief invitation to connect that is tailored to that person. Include information about who you are, what you have in common, and why you want to connect.
As a UofL student, you have a unique opportunity to connect on LinkedIn with thousands of fellow Cardinals who are now alums. You will find that common UofL linkage means it is more likely you will receive a favorable response to your attempts to connect. To search for alumni on LinkedIn, type “University of Louisville” in the search box and then click on “alumni” to move to the next page. You can view alumni by where they live and work, what they studied and what they currently do.
Once you connect via LinkedIn, be considerate of your contact’s time. Be brief and don’t overwhelm that individual with repeated messages. Be patient when waiting for responses. Be polite and appreciative of any advice they can offer. And remember that you asked to connect with them so be prepared to ask questions like:
- How did you get started?
- What’s your typical day like?
- What do you like/not like about what you are doing?
- What classes do you think I should be taking?
- Do you have any suggestions on any groups or individuals I should be connecting with?
With some fine-tuning of your profile and practice, you can make LinkedIn an important tool as you enter the job market, and later as you advance your career. For more tips and advice on using the platform, LinkedIn Higher Education has several articles. Also, read our first article on Using LinkedIn.
And you can always talk about LinkedIn with your UofL career center - find the center for your academic program.
MAKING THE BEST OF REMOTE/VIRTUAL INTERNSHIPS AND CO-OPS
By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.
Many UofL students found their spring internships and co-ops changed to online work. And as we continue to grapple with the COVID-19 outbreak, it would appear that most summer experiential learning will also be virtual/remote. That means adjustments need to be made so that students have a good, meaningful experience. But the Graduate Internship Manager for the UofL College of Business, Jennifer Applebee, believes students and employers can both adapt to make the best of the situation.
Applebee says for students to get the most out of the remote experience, they should be willing to ask as many questions as needed and also be able to self-manage. “It is important for students to be disciplined in working their scheduled hours and completing the work while not getting distracted by other things that pop up.”
To that end, remote internship students should find what type of work environment works best for them. “Having a designated, focused workspace where they go to ‘work’ also ensures they will be successful in their internship.”
Applebee says regular communication with the employer is vital in a remote internship. Employers should have a designated supervisor who is comfortable managing remote interns and who is able to ensure that instructions/projects are understood. “Even though interns are working remotely, they should still find ways to connect with their team members and supervisor. The companies we work with have individual one-on-one daily calls between the supervisor and the student but they also have weekly calls between the whole team. These calls are usually done on virtual platforms where everyone can see each other.”
Because different technology can be tricky, students should orient themselves with the software and virtual platforms that the company uses. Applebee says, “The supervisor/company should hold orientations where they go over the necessary technology and allow students to practice using the technology before starting work. Students who are working remotely should also ensure their equipment is compatible and they have all they need, such as internet capability, to be able to access all required materials.”
Part of the reason why practice is necessary is the wide variety of tools and platforms that can be used for remote work. Robert Shindell, the president of InternBridge which consults with employers, says a number of technology platforms are used for virtual internships. These include:
- Meeting platforms like Zoom, GoToMeeting, Facetime, Skype, Cisco WebEx, Zoho, Slack, Instant Messenger, and MicroSoft Teams
- Work sharing sites like Google Docs, Dropbox, SharePoint, Box, GoFile
- Project management tools including Asana, MSoft Project, and Monday.com/Task
Finally, Applebee wants remote internship and co-op students to realize that even though they are working in a virtual environment, they are not alone. “Remote interns are still part of a team that wants them to get the most out of their internship and experience and to be successful.”
The article, 6 Ways to Make the Most of a Remote Internship, has more advice on having a good remote internship experience.
LOOK FOR MORE REMOTE/VIRTUAL INTERNSHIPS AND CO-OPS THIS SUMMER
By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.
The Covid19 outbreak has forced many UofL students who were finishing up spring internships and co-ops into remote/virtual work. And there’s a strong likelihood that most students who plan to do summer internships and co-ops will also find their positions in the online environment. But with some planning, adjustments, and flexibility, you can still have a great learning experience as you work for employers in the community.
Jennifer Applebee, the Graduate Internship Manager for the UofL College of Business, says aside from technology, the main difference between traditional face-to-face internships and the virtual versions is the emphasis students must place on time management skills. “Students won’t have someone consistently looking over their shoulders to ensure the work is getting accomplished. While the companies we work with have a good supervisory plan in place for managing these remote students, the students are responsible for having to solve some problems on their own in order to continue the project as they may not receive an immediate answer to their questions.”
Virtual internships can very much meet the goals of all parties involved. In fact, Robert Shindell, the president of InternBridge which consults with employers about internships, says location is not a factor in internship motivations. According to InternBridge research, student goals for internships are:
- Gain hands on experience
- Learn new skills
- Make professional contacts
- Become better prepared for employment
- Gain a realistic preview of the work world.
For employers, the motivations to hire interns are:
- Provide students with real work experience
- Gain fresh ideas for the company/organization
- Gain a fresh perspective from students
- Low risk recruitment strategy
- Gain short term talent.
As Shindell points out, all of these goals can be met, whether the internship/co-op is face-to-face or remote.
Applebee from the UofL College of Business says they are finding more and more companies that are coming around to the idea of remote internships. “That’s especially true in the midst of the pandemic where everyone is working from home so we may definitely see more of these opportunities become available. The best channels are still the job boards, either school specific or even LinkedIn/Indeed.”
Above all else when it comes to looking for a remote/virtual internship or co-op, Applebee said the key is the same strategy that students should always utilize in the employment marketplace. “Making connections and building relationships is the best way to create not only distance/remote internships but also local internships and that is our approach to gaining internships for our students.”
In an upcoming article, we’ll offer tips on how to get the most out of a virtual/remote internship. In the meantime, don’t forget to connect with your UofL career center about internship and co-op matters. The career centers in the College of Business, Speed School of Engineering, and the Law School as well as the University Career Center are all available to assist.
METRO GOVERNMENT INTERN HELPING OUR COMMUNITY
By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.
Bardstown senior Audry Schaefer probably never imagined that she would be doing incredibly important work for our community when she committed to an internship with Louisville Metro Government. The Communication major is continuing her internship with the Metro Office of Resilience and Community Services, even as the coronavirus pandemic sweeps through the city, state, and nation.
Schaefer is involved in developing communication materials about coronavirus relief and the office’s ongoing senior nutrition program. According to Schaefer, “Our work now seems more focused on providing emergency relief and helping our citizens survive, whereas we are normally trying to help them thrive.”
Schaefer said things were fairly normal in the office before spring break but soon thereafter rapidly changed. “I took the week off and came back into chaos - everyone was scrambling to come up with action plans, phones were ringing nonstop, and everyone was stressed and unsure of what was to come. Now, things are quieter as many of our office staff have been telecommuting, but the situation is still hectic.”
The situation has taught the Communication major an important work-related lesson. “This experience has helped me learn to manage stress in a productive way. Instead of freaking out and breaking down, remaining calm, proactive, helpful, and respectful will put you miles ahead of those who aren’t.” But she also says it has been instructive at the personal level. “I believe this experience has allowed me to reset my brain and reassess my values. In times of crisis, the most important thing a person can do is stop thinking about themselves and start thinking of ways to help others and unite for greater change.”
Audry Schaefer is just one of many UofL students who are continuing to do important work that is helping our community in this time of crisis. Thanks to you Audry and these other students for doing what you are doing! If you know of other students doing this important work, drop an email to Stuart Esrock because we can all take pride in these important stories.
GREAT TIME TO BE USING LINKEDIN
By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.
More and more students and professionals around the world are finding employment via LinkedIn so now when we are all locked away in our homes, it’s a great time to maximize your presence on this platform.
An assistant director at the UofL University Career Center, Karen Boston, points out that LinkedIn provides a means to reach out beyond Louisville. “Using LinkedIn is a great way for students to network with professionals across the city, country, or even the world! Whether you are interested in a career in Washington, DC or Seattle, Washington, you can make valuable connections, ask questions, and get advice from people who are working or have worked in a job that is of interest to you.”
Some students are hesitant to try to connect with professionals, thinking that they may be a bother. But the nature of LinkedIn means participants are looking to make connections and Boston suggests students take advantage of that. “Professionals who use LinkedIn want to connect with you and share their experience and tips so be professional in your contact with them and don’t hesitate to reach out.”
And much like networking in person, LinkedIn gives students the chance to reach out beyond a single degree of separation. Boston says, “Take advantage of your connections’ networks by asking each connection, ‘Who do you recommend that I reach out to?’”
When looking to make connections on LinkedIn, Boston advises students to seek brevity. “Always craft a personalized invitation to connect which tells who you are, what you have in common, and why you want to connect—in 300 characters or less!”
In a future article, we’ll offer you tips on creating a strong professional presence on LinkedIn. You can also take advantage of an upcoming virtual workshop on LinkedIn and how to best take advantage of it, on April 29 at 12 noon. And as always, your University of Louisville career centers have resources and assistance available to help you. Connect with your career center including Speed School, College of Business, Law, and the University Career Center via this link.
By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.
Interviewing for a job or internship can be stressful for some students under any circumstances. Now, many of you will be doing a remote/virtual interview and that can complicate the task further. But with some practice, you’ll overcome that obstacle.
That’s the advice of many experts and career development professionals including Paul Snyder, an assistant director at the University Career Center. The more that a student practices virtual communication including practice interviewing, the more comfortable they will be in that environment.
Beyond that, Snyder advises treating the virtual interview like an in-person interview. “This means dressing the part to help you get into the right mindset, putting away distractions (cell phones), and interviewing in a quiet place where you can focus solely on who you are talking to. Because the interview is virtual, it will be more challenging to create a connection with your interviewer. Hence, being able to really focus on the conversation is all the more important."
You should also pay close attention to the environment in which you are interviewing since that backdrop can create a subtle, and in some cases, an overt impression that could impact the evaluation of you. Better to have a nice bookcase, plant or photo behind you than a poster of your favorite metal band or disheveled kitchen shelves.
Snyder says that because the interview is virtual, you can take advantage of that in ways that are not possible with an in-person interview. “It means that you can have extensive notes to help guide you through major points that you want to talk about with the employer. In my own experience with virtual interviews (Skype and phone), I have taped notes to the wall in front of me so that I could look at them during the interview. Obviously, you don't want to read directly from your notes, but having them to help guide your talking points is completely acceptable and can help you ace the interview.”
Be aware of your non-verbal communication during your remote interview. Make eye contact by looking directly at your camera as opposed to looking off into the distance. Having your camera at eye level can help in that regard. And practice attentive, upright body posture that shows you are engaged and interested.
You should test your setup to ensure that you look as good as possible on-camera. That means checking for the lighting, running a test on the make-up you will be wearing and likely using a laptop instead of your phone since you should get a better quality image with your computer (that also allows you to keep your hands free).
Finally, Paul Snyder from the University Career Center recommends writing handwritten thank you notes. “That will also help add a more personable touch to the interview and help you to be remembered.”
With some planning and practice, you can make that virtual interview feel as comfortable as if you were interviewing in person. Here is some additional reading on remote/virtual interviews:
- Seven Tips for Conducting a Seamless Video Job Interview
- How to Make a Good Impression in a Virtual Job Interview
For more advice and assistance, contact your UofL career center.
UOFL STUDENT CONTINUES IMPORTANT INTERNSHIP
By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.
While some students have seen their internships terminate because of the coronavirus, many others are continuing their work, either remotely or in some instances at the worksite. And some of the work our UofL students are doing is incredibly important. In the coming weeks, we will highlight some of these awesome students.
One such intern is northern Kentucky senior Trevor Bosley. Trevor is planning to graduate this May with a BS degree from the UofL Department of Communication and is continuing his internship with the UofL Division of Infectious Disease, an office that has increasingly become very high profile as the crisis has escalated.
Trevor’s work assignment has now shifted to the office’s Covid-19 Coordinating Center. According to Bosley, “Most of the work that I’m doing involves branding for the virus response team, and working to inform the public. Along with that I’m working on different pieces such as infographics and editing a video series that we can utilize to inform the public as well.” You can find that video here.
Bosley calls his internship “an incredible learning experience” and credits his supervisor Tonya Augustine with transparency and tremendous support. “Overall this experience is shaping me in my professional, and personal life. I’m learning how to deal with so many different curveballs and it’s fun and interesting to have new challenges each day at work. Along with that, I’m developing confidence in my work, that carries outside of my internship because I’m proud to be a part of this huge effort.”
If you know of a UofL student who is continuing with important internship work, let us know so we can share those stories here as well - send your ideas to email@example.com.
NO SUMMER INTERNSHIP?
By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.
While it may be possible to do an internship or co-op this coming summer, it’s also possible that your opportunities may be limited due to the coronavirus outbreak. If you have problems finding a position, you can still engage in other activities that will advance your career and professional interests.
Certainly inquire about internship and co-op opportunities since there’s no telling how long this situation may last. If traditional opportunities are not available or employers you are contacting are hesitant, suggest the possibility of remote/virtual positions. Many organizations have already moved full-time employees and interns to online work formats.
In the event you can’t find an internship or co-op for the summer, here are some other things you can do to improve your employability, and to keep your mind fresh and sharp:
- Start your own project, business, or event. Think about what you are interested in, what you can do to take advantage of that interest and advance a cause you believe in or a passion that you have. It could be a blog, webpage, podcast, event, or any other of a myriad of possible strategies or activities.
- Take part in your community. Volunteer to assist seniors or a church/synagogue/mosque or an organization that you believe in. You might do that work in-person, but you might also do that work on-line. You’ll be developing the kinds of “soft skills” that employers most value and most important, you’ll be making a contribution to your community.
- If you are thinking about grad school or law school or med school, start preparing for the standardized entry tests. There are both free and for-pay programs available to you, many are online.
- Become more expert in a topic or field for which you have an interest. Read and conduct research. Practice using and developing a particular skill set. Write, edit, and write some more.
- Work on your career development skills and toolsets. Work to perfect your resume. Practice job interviewing. Write cover letters. Create and/or improve your LinkedIn profile. Seek out a mentor. Network.
It’s easy in a situation like this to sit back and let the world bring you down. But if you seize the opportunity, you can make this a meaningful summer - just do it!
PART-TIME JOB RESOURCE DURING COVID-19 OUTBREAK
By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.
Kentuckiana Works is teaming with Greater Louisville Inc. to post a growing listing of job opportunities in the metro area. If you are a student who has lost a part-time position that helps you pay for school, opportunities are now being created and many employers are now actively looking for assistance. Positions range from technology and health care to food service, grocery, delivery, warehouse, and more.
Check out the listings daily since new positions are continually being added. You can find the Kentuckiana Works/GLI job board at: https://www.kentuckianaworks.org/jobs.
JOB SEARCHING AMID THE CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK
By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.
For some people, the idea of a job search can be an intimidating or daunting task. When that is magnified by our current public health crisis, it can be easy to understand why some students can be overwhelmed. The University Career Center and the other UofL career centers in the Business, Engineering, and Law programs are there to help you navigate the situation. In the meantime, here’s some thoughts on how you can help yourself as you move toward the job market.
First, don’t assume that hiring has stopped. In fact, the President/CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management, Johnny Taylor, says it would be a mistake to stop job hunting now. Employers in some sectors are actually ramping up hiring in response to the situation. And, other employers are moving forward with longer term hiring strategies. Be sure to check out the listings on Handshake.
When you apply, you’ll need to submit a resume and cover letter. And, there’s never a bad time to improve those important elements of the job search so this could be a good opportunity to do just that. Check out the University Career Center resources on improving your resume and cover letters.
You should also ramp up your use of the LinkedIn platform since networking is always a crucial job search strategy to utilize. You can find some helpful tips on improving your presence on LinkedIn.
Do realize that it might take longer than normal to get an interview. It doesn’t mean that you should not apply - if there are openings listed and you are interested, go for it since there’s no telling when an organization might move forward.
Expect that an increasing number of employers will screen candidates on a virtual/remote basis during the coronavirus outbreak. There are fundamental differences between virtual communication and face-to-face communication. This would be a good time to practice virtual communication with friends using platforms like Skype and Facetime, paying special attention to your remote presence. You can also practice interviewing online using the Interview Stream.
Remember, there are also highly trained career coaches who are available to work with you at the University Career Center as well as the career centers in the Business, Engineering, and Law programs. We are all working throughout the crisis to provide virtual/remote assistance to UofL students. Connect with your career center.
It may be scary at this point and it make take some time. But now more than ever, it’s incumbent upon you to be proactive in your job search. As Albert Einstein once said, “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”
BEWARE PHISHING SCAMS AND FRAUD DURING CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK
UofL Information Technology Services has found a significant rise in email phishing sent to university accounts related to the COVID-19 virus as well as online classes. Please be hyper aware of scam emails promoting mis-information about university classes or online registration. Verify that UofL emails are from louisville.edu addresses and don’t click on links from people/sources you don’t know. If you have concerns over a questionable email or have clicked on a suspicious link, please contact UofL IT Services at 852-7997 or via this link.
The end of a semester is also a time when we typically see a spike in fraud related job opportunities. Your UofL career centers including the University Career Center, Engineering, Business, and Law centers want to remind you to be particularly vigilant during these times when an increasing number of fraudsters become desperate in their attempts to take advantage of students.
Avoid offers of employment that include:
- High pay with little work
- Cashing checks and wiring money
- Poor grammar or punctuation
- Offering a job without even interviewing you
These are just a few of the "red flags." Below are some additional resources to help you protect yourself:
- Articles from the University Career Center on Safe Job Hunting and Fraudulent Job Emails
- UofL Department of Information Technology
- Hunting for a Job? Watch Out for Scammers by The Kentucky Attorney General
Again if in doubt, don’t click on it. Students who are suspicious should contact IT Services and if you think you receive a scam email, report it to UofL IT. Send the resulting message and attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org with a subject line identifying the message as a phishing report.
INTERNSHIPS AND CO-OPS DURING CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK
Obviously in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, your health and well-being should be your #1 priority. For those doing an internship or co-op this spring, you likely now have questions about how to proceed given the growing public health crisis.
For any matters related to academic credit and requirements for your internship or co-op course, above all else you should be in contact with your program director/coordinator at UofL. Since many programs have differing requirements and most of these experiences are individualized, your internship/co-op director/coordinator can work with you to ensure a successful and safe completion in conjunction with the supervisor at your work site.
In some situations, remote work from home is already being implemented to bring the internship/co-op coursework to a conclusion. If you are being required to work on-site and you feel your health/safety are potentially compromised, communicate that to your work site supervisor. If a satisfactory resolution to the situation cannot be reached, contact your internship/co-op director at UofL for assistance to ensure you are comfortable and not feeling at risk.
CAREER CENTERS AT UofL READY TO HELP STUDENTS NOW!
In this time of online courses and public health concerns, the career centers at UofL stand ready to assist students as you prepare for full-time work, internships, and part-time jobs to help defray the costs of school.
University, Business, Engineering, and Law career centers have numerous online resources, as well as staff available to assist students remotely. Now is a great time to work on your resume and have it reviewed by a staff member, dial up your LinkedIn profile, practice an interview, or prepare for your job search. More information about connecting with your career center is available at: https://louisville.edu/career/about-us/career-centers-at-uofl.
Check out the virtual information sessions and hiring events in Handshake hosted by employers across the country. Events are hosted on various virtual hosting platforms (Zoom, Google Hangout, employer website, etc.). The web addresses for the events are in the event description. All currently enrolled students have access to Handshake using their ULink credentials.
Events are added on an ongoing basis.
Geico – 3/18/20 - Diversity and Inclusion Virtual Career Event
Hubspot – 3/18/20 - Grow Your Sales Career as a Business Development Representative.
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory – 3/23/20 - Fellowships Available: Protect our nation’s security as a Department of Energy NNSA Graduate Fellow -
Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory – 3/24/20 - Rockets, Robots, Innovation, and More
Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) – 3/25/20 - Virtual Outreach Fair to highlight a variety of paid internships and fellowships within government agencies and national laboratories across the country!
City Year - Virtual Information Session - learn more about post-grad service opportunities with City Year!
AT&T - Trailblazers: Women of AT&T – 3/26/20 - Join us to hear from five of our inspirational Trailblazers on AT&T's culture, employee groups and mentorship.
State Farm – Virtual Career Fair – 3/31/20 - Join us for a HUGE hiring event. On March 31st State Farm will be hosting a virtual career fair and seeking to hire over 100 employees! We are highlighting roles in IT, Customer Service, Claims, Underwriting, and many more!
Google – 3/31/20 - YouTube Live [Technical Recruiter Spotlight: 'What Recruiters look for'].
This week’s featured intern is Caitlin Hogue!
Shoutout to Caitlin for receiving this internship as a Sophomore! Caitlin works for a historical collections manager and is in charge of cataloging a collection of drawings. She has learned a lot about the process of archiving materials and classifying art pieces.
This internship contributes to Caitlin’s long-term career goals because she wants to be a curator. Having the ability to work so closely with a collections manager at a well-respected organization is amazing. Not only is she teaching her a lot about the field, but this will also look great on her resume.
Here is a quote from Caitlin to other students considering this experience, “Go for it! The worst that happens is you at least realize what you don’t want to be doing in your future career.”