Advice for December Grads
ADVICE FOR DECEMBER GRADS SEEKING ENRY-LEVEL EMPLOYMENT
By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.
If you are getting ready to graduate, congrats! Hopefully you have been building to your big day and getting ready for the job market. What can you expect in the midst of the pandemic as you continue the process of launching your career? The career coaches at the University Career Center (UCC) who work directly with students on career development issues have several thoughts for you to consider if you are getting ready now to jump into the job market.
First, you are likely to encounter a hiring process that is virtual/remote. Until the pandemic eases, almost all employers are recruiting, accepting applications, and interviewing online.
Mallory Newby of the UCC said students should treat a video interview just like you would an in-person interview with some additional considerations. “This means dressing professionally, researching the company and interviewer, and having questions prepared in advance. Be sure that your technology is working properly (video camera and audio) and familiarize yourself with the platform that is going to be used (i.e. Zoom, Teams). Have your computer or webcam at eye level to avoid looking up or down at the screen. Be mindful of your background and ensure that your area is neat and tidy with as little distractions as possible. And practice in advance; you can use a tool like Big Interview."
Given the lack of face-to face-contact, you might also be asked to take part in more interviews and conversations than might be normal. It’s all an effort on the part of employers to get to know you better. Since they are losing some of the quality of in-person communication, some organizations will try to make up for that with quantity.
Also in the midst of a pandemic, there’s a chance that you will start work virtually/remotely once you get a position. That means employers are looking for candidates who exhibit self-motivation, an ability to communicate effectively in the online environment, and have a track record of digital collaboration. UCC assistant director Rosie Shannon said to meet those desired qualifications, students can highlight their experiences with virtual coursework on the UofL Blackboard platform. “Many students are taking some, or all, of their courses on-line and therefore must communicate with both classmates and instructors through class discussion boards, blogs, virtual live discussions, virtual presentations and emails. A student could give a few examples of their assignments that are submitted through these online media and any virtual live presentations they have completed for course assignments. All of these help the student develop written and oral communication skills, body language, active listening, respect, manners and friendliness.”
The pandemic has certainly been a challenge for everyone - those already in the work world as well as students. UCC assistant director Karen Boston says that is one more thing that students can emphasize in their applications. “Resiliency, or the ability to recover from difficulties, is a strength that employers are seeking and one which every new graduate can use to describe themselves. Our new graduates have faced challenges, because of the pandemic and civil unrest, unlike any other graduating class and have demonstrated skills in flexibility and adaptability that will continue to serve them well in their future workplace.”
Do realize at the same time the pandemic has created difficulties for students, it has also complicated things for hiring managers at the companies in which you have an interest. So the hiring process might not move as quickly or smoothly as you hope. Be patient during the process. But don’t be afraid to reach out and communicate to let organizations know you are still interested and to ask questions.
One final thing to remember at this point - there are opportunities out there, but at least to some extent the job market is tight and highly competitive because of the pandemic. You need to be proactive and utilize all of the resources available to you as you press your search for an entry-level position. Use all of the online tools and platforms available to you, and be sure you are networking since most students find a lead for their first job via a contact.
Help is available to you through the career centers at the University of Louisville:
- Students from the College of Business are served by the Ulmer Career Center.
- Students from the J.B. Speed School of Engineering utilize the Speed Career Services and Co-op Office.
- Students from the Brandeis School of Law work with the Office of Professional Development.
All other students are served by the University Career Center.