Careers in the Time of Coronavirus

“All classes and examinations for the remainder of the spring semester will be held remotely.” The email from Boston University President Robert Brown arrived on the evening of Tuesday, March 17 and life for students quickly turned upside down. 

While this is a period of uncomfortableness and distress for students university-wide, seniors preparing for graduation find themselves stuck in a unique state of limbo. Questions concerning graduation and completing coursework are common. However, the biggest source of stress for most upcoming graduates can be summed up in one anxiety-filled question: “How will I get a job?”

Fortunately, the College of Communication Career Services is operating in full swing to provide students with resources, information, and advice during this unsettling time. 

“We’ve worked very hard over the past couple of weeks to make sure that students have all the resources they need, whether it be career services-related or more broadly geared toward education and academics,” said Patrick Nelson, COM’s Director of Career Services. “We’re doing everything we can to ensure that students aren’t skipping a beat.”

While Career Services can no longer host students in person, faculty and staff are fully available via Zoom and Handshake. Students can make appointments on Handshake and will be directed to their advisor’s Zoom link once the appointment is confirmed. 

Two planned upcoming events – the International Student Job Search Workshop and a Salary Negotiation Workshop – will also be held online.

In an environment of social distancing and a looming recession, it is not uncommon for a company to focus on internal matters, such as employee safety and crisis strategy, and less on hiring, Nelson explained. However, in response to questions regarding companies’ current interview and recruiting schedules, Career Services is urging students to continue with business as usual. The department is emphasizing the importance of relationship building and advises that students take this time to connect with BU alumni at companies of interest via Linkedin. Not only can this give students a door into the company, but it can also aid in relieving anxiety, as alumni can provide insight into what is going on internally.

Additionally, faculty are urging students to prioritize sticking to a routine to stay focused while learning remotely.

“For the most part, we’ve just been trying to have students maintain some sort of routine or normalcy,” said Noah Cavicchi, a graduate employee at Career Services. “We’re trying to give students some encouragement to keep them focused and on the right track career-wise. “

Many upperclassmen are in the midst of internships that are critical to their career development and could be fulfilling a key degree requirement, adding an additional source of concern. Most offices have moved to a remote setting and may or may not choose to include their interns in this transition. Some are fortunate to be able to continue working from home, but others have been forced to end their internships early.

“Every student who has had an internship is, at the very least, able to put that experience on their resume. From that standpoint, and the fact that they build relationships with employers while they’re there, it’s not been a loss at all,” Nelson noted. 

A few employer visits, such as information sessions with the Austin Film Festival and the American City Business Journal, have unfortunately been canceled. 

“The disappointment is mutual and understandable. We continue to be engaged and communicate with them, and at the most basic level, every company shares their job opportunities with me, which I circulate with students,” Nelson said.

He spoke positively about students’ responses and their abilities to adapt to the college’s remote transition. While professors and Career Services faculty alike are facing challenges with limited engagement and less interactivity than an in-person setting would allow, Nelson commended students for their ability to adapt and be patient.

“There is definitely going to be extra work required on our part at COM Career Services, as well as on the part of students to get things moving,” said Cavicchi. “So far, they’ve been receptive to our online transition and hopefully, that will continue as we move forward.” 

Career Services is continuing to prioritize students and provide them with as many resources as possible for navigating such a difficult time.

“Students are why we all work here,” said Nelson. “We want to provide our students with the best experience and the education they’ve come to expect.” 

For more information on COM Career Services’ response to COVID-19, students can visit https://www.bu.edu/com/career-services/. Appointments and workshops can be accessed via the BU Handshake platform.

Rachel Silberman, Staff Writer

Rachel Silberman is a senior studying PR at BU. She’s originally from Philadelphia, is passionate about health and wellness and social impact, and also loves to travel.

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