Graduating seniors are entering a unique job market. Follow the links under the photos in this article to read about how some outstanding WMU graduates are confidently heading into the future.
KALAMAZOO, Mich.—College graduates are entering a new world in the midst of a global pandemic. Many companies are consolidating operations and changing the way they do business—both internally and externally. Western Michigan University’s Career and Student Employment Services is available to help students and recent alumni position themselves for professional success.
“It’s more important than ever for graduates to be able to articulate their experiences, strengths and competencies through resumes, cover letters and answers to interview questions,” says Dr. Ewa Urban, interim director for career and post-graduation success.
The office, as well as the Zhang Career Center, is open virtually for students every day of the week, offering services such as resume critiques and career advising to create customized job search plans. Advisors are tailoring appointments to the unique reality students are facing right now, taking stock of their mental, physical and emotional health at the beginning of each appointment.
“All students are dealing with anxiety, confusion, and fear, and we want to assure them that we are here for them with all of their needs, not just job-related concerns,” says Sarah Hagen, career development specialist.
“Some students are reporting a job or internship offer being rescinded, which means they need to quickly pivot to a new search and secure new opportunities,” she says. “I’ve been very impressed with the resiliency and positivity that most students are displaying.”
There’s also a new webpage created specifically for navigating the job search during the pandemic, which includes links to a number of helpful resources, including:
Handshake, a job search platform;
Big Interview, interview preparation software; and
Career Resources Elearning.
A number of virtual job fairs are being planned to connect students with employers. The first, for education students and alumni, is a collaboration with other Michigan universities planned for May 11. Other opportunities will follow later in the spring and summer, and many employers are posting their own virtual events in Handshake.
“Now, more than ever, networking is going to be very important to students,” says Urban. “Students should stay connected with their mentors, professors, WMU staff and other professionals, and ask for recommendations as to how they can improve their skills, their resumes and who else they should be connecting with for potential job leads.”
Urban also says now is the time to take stock of their skills and make sure they’re able to effectively articulate them. This includes career readiness competencies and transferable skills, such as leadership, teamwork, intercultural fluency, technical skills and problem solving—all necessary to be able to adapt in the changing job market.
“Being able to absorb new information and news, make adjustments or changes, and continue to move forward is critical,” Hagen adds. “Employers will be asking about their coping skills in interviews, including giving concrete examples of these strategies, and students must be able to describe their grit and resilience.”
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