Bailey Hryb, Managing Editor
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the U.S. economy. Last year, many businesses, from mom-and-pop shops to major chain retailers, found themselves shutting doors and/or filing for bankruptcy due to lack of consumer spending and the inability to allow in-person shoppers during the height of the pandemic.
In addition to this, the number of people filing for unemployment skyrocketed. Last July, the U.S. unemployment rate was 10.2%. To put this into perspective, the peak global unemployment rate during the Great Recession (2007-2009) was only 10%.
The process of job searching can be difficult, but throw in a global pandemic and you have a tough, grueling road ahead. Many students, whether they be incoming freshmen or soon-to-be graduates, have expressed worry about finding a job after college.
“I definitely am stressed thinking about job hunting, especially since a lot of the places that I was really interested in working at are either closed temporarily or are not hiring right now because of staff limitations due to the pandemic,” said Morgan Kocher, a senior studying business management. “I’m scared to graduate and not have a job. I’ve worked really hard in school and I want to be able to show off my skills.”
The Center for Career and Professional Development at Utica College is designed to help students start their job and internship search. With the pandemic affecting almost every aspect of daily life, the Center has implemented new and updated services to help students find their perfect job, whether it be in-person or online.
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“You are not alone in the job and internship search process,” Assistant Director of Career Development Victoria Pardee said. “A tip that I have for students looking to apply for jobs and internships is to connect with their Career Coach. We can help you build a strong resume and cover letter, as well as identify employers of interest. We have strong connections with employers and are happy to refer you to our contacts. If we don’t have a partnership with the employer yet, we can build one.”
According to Upwork, 41.8% of Americans were still working remotely at home, as of Dec. 2020. In addition to this statistic, it is predicted that by 2025, 36.2 million Americans will be entirely remote, an increase of over 16 million people compared to data on remote work before the pandemic.
Trey Cornish, an online student in his junior year, has experienced both the convenience and distractions of working from home.
“I’m definitely thankful that I’ve been able to work from home during the pandemic,” said Cornish, who is currently studying cybersecurity. “I am lucky that I didn’t have to go out in public and risk catching the virus. However, I have also found working at home to be an easy distraction. It’s easier to lose yourself on your phone, watching TV or being online. It’s a struggle each day to tell yourself to continue working when all of these distractions are within reach.”
With many jobs and internships forced to be remote, it raises the question of whether skills learned online will transition smoothly to in-person experiences, once things are able to open up again.
“I want to reassure students that this is a global pandemic and we are not the only ones going through it,” Pardee said. “Employers understand that some of the ‘typical’ in-person experiences were moved to a virtual setting. We do believe that we’ll see a trend of more virtual work, as employers are realizing that this is a possibility. While there may be an uptick in remote work, we are confident that employers will begin to resume in-person work post-pandemic.”
UC is aware of the added stress that the pandemic has placed on the student body and has worked to provide increased assistance with the growing number of questions and concerns presented.
“The Center for Career and Professional Development has exciting news in that we have recently completed a search and screen process and hired three new Career Coaches,” Pardee said. “Based on your industry of interest, you will have an assigned Career Coach. Your Career Coach will be able to assist with topics such as major and career exploration, job and internship search assistance, resume and cover letter building and editing, graduate school search and applications, networking guidance and interviewing skills. Stay tuned for our official announcements.”
The Center for Career and Professional Development is located at 115 Hubbard Hall. Students are urged to reach out to their Career Coach to learn more about their desired career and to start building relationships with local businesses.