Career services offices at UT are adapting to virtual job and internship recruitment processes as the coronavirus prevents in-person events.
Because the pandemic has caused a recession, students are seeing less job opportunities as businesses shift to the new normal. Companies that previously held information sessions, coffee chats and interviews on campus now host all recruitment events online. Career services offices are developing new strategies, such as hosting online training workshops, to help students find opportunities virtually.
“This is a time of uncertainty,” Janet Huang, senior assistant dean for McCombs Career Services and Corporate Relations, said in an email. “However, this is also an opportunity to build grit and resilience.”
Every industry has felt the effects of the pandemic, Huang said, and McCombs Career Services has been working with employers to understand hiring goals. The transition has also presented some benefits, including flexibility for employers and job seekers to attend virtual career fairs, she said.
“Prior to the global pandemic, we observed a trend with companies shifting to virtual recruiting,” Huang said. “COVID-19 has accelerated this shift.”
Huang said she recommends students work with career services, develop their professional networks and practice telling their personal story of what they accomplished during the pandemic to help navigate the job search.
Tatem Oldham, director of Liberal Arts Career Services, said that while there has been a decrease in the number of opportunities available, over 7,000 postings are available in the Handshake recruiting system the office uses.
“The worst (thing) students can do right now is assume no one is hiring and not even try to line up internships and jobs,” Oldham said in an email.
The office created a lineup of Zoom workshops called “Senior Series” for 2020 liberal arts graduates to navigate the difficult job market in April, Oldham said. Over 600 students registered for these virtual workshops, which are recorded.
Amy Zhao, a business honors, finance and mathematics junior, said the shift to virtual recruiting has made the events more accessible. However, she said information sessions can be less personal than when she previously visited companies in person.
“(In-person events) made me personally really feel inclined towards certain companies after visiting the offices and definitely getting to see their culture in person,” Zhao said. “Because everything moved online, we get a little bit less of that (connection).”
Zhao said she no longer has to travel to companies for recruiting events, which is a plus, but generally feels like opportunities are harder to come by.
“The job market is a lot more difficult now since a lot of places are cutting down on the numbers of people they’re taking,” Zhao said.
Biomedical engineering junior Collin McCloskey said he has been leveraging his network to find a finance or engineering internship. As a volunteer for the Engineering Expo career fair, he said figuring out how to talk to companies virtually is difficult.
“Recruiting across a screen is so different from in person,” McCloskey said. “You can’t really read the person that you’re talking to as well, you don’t have any of those body moments where you can pick up subtle hints of whether they like what you’re saying or not. It eliminates a lot of personality from the conversation.”