Just weeks after a successful Spring Career Fair at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, business as usual ceased when a novel coronavirus swept the globe. The spread of COVID-19 took many opportunities off the table, but career coaches across the University of Nebraska–Lincoln are actively helping students move forward.
Like class instruction, career coaching has moved to remote access, but career coaches are available to work with students, said Tracy Lungrin, director of Career Services.
Career Services recently launched an FAQ page on navigating job and internship searches during the COVID-19 outbreak.
“We’re encouraging students to keep active,” Lungrin said. “I would say now would be a fantastic time for them to create a LinkedIn profile if they haven’t done so and start connecting with and building their LinkedIn network.
“They can message folks about opportunities or connect with other people in their field and ask questions. That’s a great place to start networking.”
Lungrin said her team is still fielding requests from companies as well and posting to Handshake.
“There have been many opportunities that have been canceled, but we still have internships and other opportunities coming in,” Lungrin said. “We’re updating that on a daily basis. We definitely want our students to continue to utilize Handshake as it is a great resource.”
There is another advantage to reaching out to career coaches, Lungrin said. Students are probably feeling isolated due to social distancing, and connecting with a career coach is a great way to personalize their educational experience, even if not in person.
“Our career coaches can help them organize their job search, target their job search, and provide them with career development strategies,” Lungrin said. “But I think many students are going through a grieving process, too, and while we’re not mental health practitioners, we can help them find their footing a bit. We can provide them some additional support.”
Scanlon is also continuously sharing information and resources through LinkedIn. She said she knows students are feeling anxious or scared about many things, including future career prospects, but action can help.
“I would validate that it’s not in their mind at all — that it’s such an unknown, unprecedented time for everybody,” Scanlon said. “I stress to them to set goals and act on them, whether that be connecting with new people on LinkedIn, updating their resume or applying for so many jobs weekly. I just encourage them to not to give up on it.”
Scanlon said other opportunities might be found by volunteering for a project in an organization such as a non-profit.
“They’re keeping their skills sharp and still building their portfolio or resume,” Scanlon said. “Those things can show the type of work they’re able to produce, or maybe they can do some online training in an area that they would like to learn more about.”
“Students might be feeling discouraged, but this is nothing that will be held against them,” she said “This is an impact being felt by everyone. We can turn this into an opportunity for them, to continuously move them forward in career development or career exploration.
“Can you use this time to develop some other skills? There are tons of free online resources right now for developing a wide variety of new skills. Can you take a webinar for free and brush up on some of those skills you want to master and then market those later? You sure can.”