UT needs to prepare students for the pandemic job market

UT needs to prepare students for the pandemic job market

Michael Lazenby, Columnist

Students worry about getting a job after college. If you lack connections or have been so focused on school that you haven’t had time to network, it can feel scary. While this is true even in normal times, students now face the additional challenge of finding employment in a pandemic economy.

 The University must help all students navigate their career paths and thrive in this new employment environment by holding alumni-run seminars on campus. 

These proposed seminars would consist of UT alumni who would offer guidance to students. They would also be able to answer questions students may have regarding finding employment in a pandemic world.

 Arpan Chatterji, an economics graduate student, explained why UT should host COVID-19 career seminars.

 “Organizing more in-person seminars and workshops would definitely go a long way in returning the confidence back to people and helping them sharpen their focus, their resumes and all of those things that come with entering the job market,” Chatterji said.

Many students are unnerved. They’re uncertain of how their future looks, and who could blame them? UT must help students refocus on their career goals to better fit a pandemic-influenced job market. Seminars with alumni would also be an opportunity for students to find mentors.                                                                                        

“I would definitely love to network and interact with people who were part of the seminar, simply because it would give me a better idea about the industry as well as where I am positioned in terms of the other people who are applying to similar jobs or positions,” Chatterji said.

Chatterji discussed the benefits of having UT alumni speak at these seminars.

“They already know the UT ecosystem as well as the things that you need to do in order to make it over here (at UT) and make it in the job market,” Chatterji said. “I feel like their advice  would be extremely beneficial to the current students.”

Brittany Stansel, a coordinator in the Texas Education Career Engagement department, explained the importance of having alumni help guide students through these challenging times.

“I do believe that it helps having UT (alumni) connect with our students,” Stansel said. “I certainly believe that the seminar you proposed would have opportunities to make connections and network (virtually or in person). Many students are eager to hear from alumni and receive advice.”

While UT hosts career workshops, the proposed seminars would be explicitly designed to help students navigate the current COVID-19 job market and gain valuable relationships with former Longhorns.

Emily Adams, a 2014 alumnus, is a marketing director at a local law firm and was recently promoted to firm administrator. She has been a mentee and mentor, attributing much of her career progression to connections she made in the past.

“I think both formal and informal mentorship, organizations and connections are huge. I’ve had a number of mentors in my life that helped steer me and guide me and offer advice; I want to pay that forward,” Adams said.

Adams knows the importance of early mentorship for students. Mentors play a critical role in students’ employment prospects. UT should be more supportive of students connecting with mentors, and this involves hosting career seminars. Facilitating meetings between students and alumni would enable students to become stronger candidates in a competitive and ever-changing job market.

The world has changed greatly this past year. Company policies, employee values and the digitization of how we work has shifted considerably. While UT provides a top-tier education and alumni associations, the University should hold on-campus seminars where alumni from all industries can give advice to students regarding navigating the post-pandemic job market. 

Lazenby is an economics junior from Chicago, Illinois.