How 55 career services leaders are supporting students and engaging employers through COVID-19

Expert Insight

How 55 career services leaders are supporting students and engaging employers through COVID-19

Between May 12 and May 18, EAB hosted four virtual working sessions with 55 career services leaders representing over 50 institutions across the United States and Canada. These working sessions delved into how career services units are supporting current students and recent graduates with job and internship challenges as well as engaging employers virtually. Here are the four to do items that career services leaders are focusing on in the coming weeks:

1. Conduct a summer outreach campaign to alumni to proactively surface microinternships and job opportunities.

The career services office at Trinity University in San Antonio partnered with their alumni office to collect microinternship and job opportunities for students. To solicit microinternship opportunities, Trinity posted targeted messaging in alumni social media groups with specific examples of microinternship opportunities, so alumni can easily understand what a microinternship could look like. Trinity is also contacting alumni who work in human resources to learn if their employers are still hiring or willing to engage with students in other ways.

2. Leverage staff in other units with extra capacity to expand employer outreach.

At Bowling Green State University, the career services office partnered with the development office to leverage development staff with extra capacity while fundraising activities remain reduced. Development staff, known for their interpersonal skills, called employers in Bowling Green’s network to learn if they are still hiring or if they have any new job opportunities.

Outreach to employers also represents an opportunity to create or reinforce partnerships. Even if employers do not currently have job openings, invite them to engage with students through activities such as career panels and resume reviews. Provide staff conducting these employer conversations with scripting and a list of ways employers can engage with students and the institution.

3. Provide regular forums for employers to virtually engage and build relationships with career services staff and students, even in the midst of hiring freezes.


Employers expressed interest in engagement through the University of Delaware’s career survey
Employers expressed interest in engagement through the University of Delaware’s career survey

Career services leaders reported that despite a decrease in job postings, employers are still seeking opportunities to build their brands with students. St. Cloud State University and Grand View University are engaging with local chamber of commerce and economic development organizations to build relationships with employers and learn how they would like to engage with students.

The University of Delaware sent a survey to their employer partners in late March and received over 400 responses that highlighted a strong interest in engagement. Following the survey, the University of Delaware hosted a virtual career fair in April with over 100 employers hiring for over 150 roles. While some employers in the University of Delaware’s network were unable to participate in the virtual job fair, they still expressed interest in developing relationships with students through professional development opportunities, such as mock interviews.

4. Set clear expectations with students and employers ahead of virtual events to ensure success.

Career services leaders must prepare students and employers for how virtual events may differ from in-person events.

For example, many employers experience a rush of students in the first 30 minutes of an in-person career fair; however, this may not be the case with virtual career fairs. Let employers know that students may virtually “show-up” throughout the specified time. Prepare students for virtual events by providing them with coaching and tips ahead of time, such as how to present themselves virtually and create a professional environment over video chats with employers. Career services units should also provide students and employers with information ahead of time about how to use the given platform to avoid technological issues.

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