Career Development Center Helps Students Persevere with Job Prospects During the Pandemic
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.”
Even during this time of uncertainty, when it’s nearly impossible to predict when the country may resume normal business operations, Koppi says the CDC is urging WPI students to stay proactive with their career prospects. “This is something we always tell students: Keep making connections and building your networks,” he says. “It’s more important now than ever.”
Blejwas advises students in her situation to give themselves permission to feel sad and frustrated, but to keep their chins up. “I think it's important to be grateful for the lessons you may learn and to recognize all of the opportunities that still exist,” she says. “Although you may have had your heart set on one thing, there are still plenty of great alternative paths. You just have to find them.”
WPI students can do just that through the Career Development Center:
- Schedule virtual appointments: These sessions are hosted virtually with screen sharing capabilities. Student can go to Handshake to schedule an appointment.
- Attend virtual drop-ins: Drop-ins are hosted virtually Monday - Friday from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. To access these drop-ins, please follow this link.
- Prepare resume and cover letter critiques: CDC staff can still provide resume and cover letter feedback virtually. To do so, students can schedule an appointment in Handshake, selecting the "15 min Cover Letter Critique" or "Resume Critique - 15 min appointment or drop-in" tabs. Students can also e-mail resumes or cover letters to firstname.lastname@example.org, and will receive feedback within four to five business days.
- Attend virtual career workshops and events: Students may follow this link to check out upcoming virtual career fairs. Information on how to access the sessions remotely will be included in each event.
- Learn from peers: Students can read more than 100,000 employer reviews on Handshake to learn what it's like to work at a specific company. They can use Peer Messaging to chat with alumni or other students with similar majors and career interests to conduct informational interviews online, among other options.
- Fill out an online profile: Eighty percent of students who fill out location preferences, job role preferences, and job type preferences receive a message from an employer. Maximizing a Handshake profile can help students engage with employers that want to recruit WPI Students.
- Follow employers of interest: Students who follow an employer will be alerted when that employer posts an upcoming online event or new job opportunity.
For any additional questions, contact the Career Development Center at email@example.com.
--by Jessica Messier