Coronavirus Brings Changes for Engineering Students & 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 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.