With the Fall 2020 semester operating in a mostly remote manner due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, Rutgers continues to offer career guidance and resources despite the circumstances.
William Jones, interim executive director of Career Exploration and Success, said they are offering the same preparation and recruiting services that they have always had, but now it has been adapted to the virtual environment.
To accommodate students in different time zones, advising appointments are offered from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m, as well as an available virtual front desk to assist students with their inquiries, Jones said. Students can access this at the Career Exploration and Success website.
The website has been updated to highlight more of their virtual resources, even with tips added for virtual career fairs, interviews and networking for easy navigation, he said.
In addition to virtual career fairs, programs are being held throughout the semester, such as a series of workshops called the How To series, where students can learn about a variety of different professional life skills, as well tools centered around topics relating to the current climate such as InterviewStream, a virtual mock interview system, and LinkedIn Learning, a platform that offers mini-courses in learning the nuances of different programs and job skills, he said.
All are accessible through the website, as well as within the Rutgers Handshake platform. “Handshake really is the primary place to go to manage all of your career-related resources,” Jones said.
Jones said Rutgers Career Exploration and Success prioritized its advising abilities to undergraduate and graduate students who are about to graduate, as they are now at a disadvantage as the pandemic has proven to make the job market particularly difficult.
“Historically, it might take a few years for recent graduates during the challenging job market to catch up with their peers who graduate later. Think about the student who’s going to graduate this year. They’re not just competing with other students who are graduating across the nation, they are also competing with those who are displaced due to this pandemic and the challenging employment market,” Jones said.
To help combat this, Jones said he suggests that students do what they can to improve upon their skills during this time, even opting to apply to graduate school. Career Services also launched a series of COVID-19 job search booster workshops to connect students with the resources they need to succeed, as well as more individualized sessions where advisors and employer relations specialists answer student questions.
Jones said many internships and employment opportunities have been canceled due to COVID-19 closures and shutdowns, resulting in employers canceling 43 percent of spring 2020 and 54 percent of summer 2020 internships during the pandemic, as well as 31 percent of full-time job offers were either adjusted or canceled altogether, according to a survey conducted by a coalition of New Jersey-based career centers.
Jones said that it has been anecdotally shown from employers that they are not holding a previously rescinded offer against the future job candidate.
“If you’re (a) recent alumni or graduating this year, utilize our resources as soon as humanly possible. (The) same thing to current students as well,” he said. “No one should have to navigate a challenging job market alone. And see us, we’ll always be here to help you chart that course.”