14 ways campus career offices are serving students during school closures: Ideas 12 to 14

With campuses closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, career services teams have gotten creative about delivering programs virtually, including understanding the need to get student input and support alumni

In-person opportunities typically dominate campus career services offerings at colleges and universities. But as campuses closed this March, these teams had to pivot to a virtual-only model. Here are several actions to consider based on ways career services offices have been delivering services during the pandemic. Click on the link below for ideas 1 to 11.

12. Solicit student input on needed services. With a dual campus model, New York City and Long Island, the New York Institute of Technology’s career center was no stranger to Zoom technology and virtual events for students, says Laurie Hollister, director of career services. So pivoting to virtual appointments and workshops, already in use, was simple. After spring break, a student needs survey through the Handshake platform confirmed that students were most concerned about job prospects, summer internships, how to connect with recruiters and graduation. Survey results were used to dictate April’s calendar of events, which included a virtual career fair, an “Ask the Recruiter” workshop and a session on job hunting and networking during COVID-19.

Understanding student needs also involves supporting not just career-related pursuits. Adelphi University’s Center for Career and Professional Development is taking a holistic approach to students’ needs—which means helping students with family dynamics and the shift to online learning amid the coronavirus pandemic, says Tom Ward, executive director. Career-related services include assisting with launching and honing LinkedIn profiles, establishing digital branding and developing professional networks.

13. Keep students’ event program timing preferences in mind. NYIT’s student survey also revealed that afternoon and evening events were preferred to morning ones. “The staff were happy to host workshops and appointments after the typical workday,” says Hollister, adding that student participation was above-average in April.

14. Remind alumni that the career team is also there for them. The Career Services department at University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire partnered with the university’s alumni association to show support and remind alumni that lifelong career counseling services and resources are offered. Over the next two weeks, about two dozen alumni responded to the email and created profiles in Handshake the university’s jobs and internships portal, as well as accessed job search resources, says Staci Heidtke, interim director of advising, retention and the career center. The center also developed a webinar series for current students to help them navigate the quickly changing job search landscape.

Hope College in Michigan is making sure alumni feel supported as well. Coming up is a series of webinars geared toward this audience, covering resumes, interviewing and personal branding, says Shonn Colbrunn, executive director of the Boerigter Center for Calling and Career. In addition, alumni are being encouraged to support each other by connecting through the new PeopleGrove networking platform for students and alums.

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