The COVID-19 pandemic has not only posed a significant threat to human health and life across the globe, it has upended the world economy and is expected to have a long-term effect on the job market. In March, more than six million Americans lost their jobs, and university students—at WPI and elsewhere—are seeing some job and internship opportunities evaporate.
It is against this unprecedented backdrop that the Career Development Center at WPI is hard at work helping students set a career path and connect with potential employers.
COVID-19 precautions are keeping students, faculty, and staff at home, but Steve Koppi and his Career Development Center team are working hard to support students, providing all their usual services remotely, including appointments for internships and job interviews.
“We are interacting with students and providing expert career coaching online,” says Koppi, CDC executive director. “Companies have great relationships with WPI, and see our students as talented interns, co-ops, and future career professionals.”
Catherine Blejwas ’21 is one of those students. Earlier this academic year, she accepted a full-time fall 2020 co-op position with Boston Scientific. But due to uncertainty with the coronavirus, the medical device company canceled its summer co-op program, which halted the opportunity for interns, including Blejwas, to be mentored by current employees.
“Despite the cancellation and how devastated I was, I looked at the entire situation as a learning experience,” says Blejwas, a biomedical engineering major. “I wanted to determine what lessons I could learn from this and how I could best move forward. I reflected on all of the great connections I made, people I met, and the wonderful conversations I had; I emailed every individual I spoke with throughout the entire
pre-interview, interview, and hiring and onboarding process, thanking them for their time and commitment to Boston Scientific.”
Friends encouraged Blejwas to approach the Career Development Center for help; she made an appointment through Handshake, a career services platform, and met virtually with career adviser Riky Hanlan. Blejwas says Hanlan encouraged her to not take the cancellation personally, and to reach out to another company she had previously contacted.
“Luckily, the company had just extended its search to fill a couple of positions and was able to offer me an interview,” Blejwas says. “I am extremely grateful for this opportunity and the possibilities it brings, and I really appreciate Riky's words of encouragement. That helped me take this next step.”