Students are using Texas A&M resources to build resilience in a job market changed by the pandemic.
The flow of reminders for career fairs and resume workshops into students’ inboxes indicates the beginning of the annual job recruitment period.
Except this year’s recruiting cycle looks drastically different. The Career Center, for example, is hosting its annual career fair virtually to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
Lockdown measures to protect Americans from the virus have also impacted the state of the nation’s economy. Almost twenty-four million Americans reported that they could not work during the pandemic due to lost business or business closures, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The new hiring environment leaves graduating seniors asking themselves: how do we navigate entering a job market that is operating in the shadow of a pandemic?
Senior marketing major, Caroline Deaton, says COVID-19 has affected her mindset for post-graduation plans.
“During this pandemic, I really had to come to terms with becoming comfortable in the unknown. My whole life I have always known what the future held for me,” Deaton said.
Aspiring to work in the fashion industry, Deaton had secured her dream internship with The Jewelry Group in New York City, NY. Unfortunately, her summer internship program was canceled due to the impact of COVID-19 on New York City.
Though the year has created unanticipated obstacles, students should remain optimistic for the future. Michael Shehane, Director of Campus Programs for the Career Center, believes that there are an immense amount of opportunities for students after graduation.
“There are certain industries that are ebbing and flowing right now, but for every industry that you might say, ‘Man, they might be cutting back’, there are other industries that are actually ramping up,” Shehane said.
Texas A&M advisors also encourage students to be proactive by maximizing their networking opportunities.
Omar Figueroa, Explore Program Coordinator at Transition Academic Programs, wants students to see how technology can be a key ingredient for building a network.
“If there is any job that you really want, you can find the hiring manager online—do LinkedIn, do Instagram, do Twitter—figure out who that individual is and you can network or even interact with them,” he says.
Students, like Deaton, are also taking advantage of networking opportunities provided to them through their college.
In one of her Student Retail Association meetings, Deaton had heard about the M.B. Zale Leadership Scholar program offered through the Mays Business School Center for Retailing Studies.
“I will have the opportunity to improve my professional skills, network with business executives, and in the spring will get to travel to New York for a market tour of various headquarters and flagship stores,” Deaton said.
Although Deaton was unable to follow her original plans for an internship, the Zale Scholar program will still give her the opportunity to learn and grow from industry experts in New York this fall.
Programs like Explore and Zale Scholars are beneficial for nurturing professional and academic growth, but Aggies work hard to create these opportunities for each other, as well.
Shehane explains that the Texas A&M Association of Former Students HireAggies system is an excellent resource for current students who would like to talk with former students about possibilities within an industry.
“We have an alumni base that is committed. The Aggie family is alive and well,” Shehane said.
While the prospect of job hunting may seem daunting, Aggies don’t have to do it alone. Current students have the support of on-campus resources and access to people in the network of former students who can guide and connect them to their next step.