Our COVID-19 Response
We Do Good Work
By Julie Cooper
Career Services ready to assist students and alumni land jobs
It seems only fitting that a group discussion with the staff of Texas State Career Services about the future of job applicants was on Zoom, with all but one staff member participating from home.
Due to the pandemic, the job market and the application process is changing, including new ways of hiring, new technology, and more career advising. This was the topic of conversation the day that the U.S. jobless rate hit 14.7%, the worst level since the Great Depression. The Pew Research Center reported that the economic downturn swelled the ranks of unemployed Americans by more than 14 million, from 6.2 million in February to 20.5 million in May 2020.
As fall approached, job hunters include new graduates, the underemployed, and those who lost jobs due to the pandemic.
Career Services is not just for students seeking internships or post-graduation jobs — it also serves alumni. The office offers career fairs, career coaching, and planning assistance. “You have career assistance for life,” says director Ray Rogers. For those returning or reentering the job market, things will be different — there are new approaches to hiring, interviewing, technology, and coaching.
Employee and employer methods have changed, says Bruce Howard, career advisor and liaison to the McCoy College of Business. “We have relied on electronic job boards, i.e., Jobs4Cats. We will have to reconsider how we make those introductions.” Platforms such as LinkedIn will be more important, he says.
Not everyone likes virtual job interviews. Career advisor Tori Graham, liaison to the College of Liberal Arts, says that the virtual experience is not ideal for every job candidate. She says it can be harder to project skills and personality via computer screen.
While campus visits are one form of outreach by employers, it is just a small part of the recruitment process. “It is a way for them to do outreach that is now changing,” Rogers says, then brings up a question: “How do we continue to support an environment where employers and candidates rise above the noise?”
Alex Vermillion, employer relations coordinator, says she would like to see more transparency in the hiring process — “being clear what they (employers) want from the interview.” In addition, potential employees should ask more questions. “
A good recruiter wants to understand their talent,” says Howard. As a career advisor, he can help students maximize their potential.
“Now more than ever we are in a position to give them the safe environment to process these answers,” says Emily Hawarny, career counselor and liaison to the Graduate College and Round Rock Campus. “You can’t show up to an interview with your frustration showing.”
The counselors agree that employees must reevaluate their careers and also ask themselves what jobs are trending and what jobs are needed over others.
Howard, who brings 45 years’ experience to Career Services, says he tells students to stop thinking about finding the perfect job and just get into the workforce. “Now more than ever you must be strategic: ‘This is what you want, this is what I’ve got,’ ” Howard says.
Hawarny stresses keeping a positive attitude every day applications are sent out. “Really make sure your application is tailored. Be creative and strategic,” she says.
“Use the vocabulary within the job description,” Howard adds. “The clues are there. Don’t just say you are a ‘team player.’ ”
Rogers wants applicants to know that most skills are transferable. “We can help applicants see this,” he says.
On June 16, Career Services held its first virtual career fair. More than 150 employers and more than 200 Texas State job seekers registered to participate. Texas State was joined online by 19 other universities across the South. Rogers says that all career fairs will be virtual this fall but in-person career fairs are a possibility for the spring semester.
Finding that first post-college job or internship becomes reality
Sam Jecker (B.B.A. ’20) began working with career advisor Bruce Howard while a second-semester junior studying computer information systems with a concentration in coding. In July, he started a job with LPL Financial in Austin. “
He helped a lot. He helped to build my resumé and he told me which companies to look at. He encouraged me to look at companies besides tech companies — such as financial companies, which was a surprise,” Jecker says. In February, he met with LPL representatives at a career fair in the LBJ Student Center. While Jecker says he had a handful of interviews with other Texas companies, he accepted the technology associate position with LPL in May.
Amrit Singh, (M.S. ’20) who graduated this spring with a master’s degree in communication disorders, began working with career counselor Emily Hawarny in 2019. “It has been good having someone guide me through. I didn’t know how to navigate,” Singh says. She enjoyed networking and interviewing and also says that meetings online were beneficial.
Singh, who is from Malaysia, says she sent out many emails, tailoring each one to the particular job offering. By May, she had four job offers from school districts, hospitals, and a private clinic. She subsequently accepted an offer with the Victoria ISD. “One thing I learned is one’s career is not a separate entity from your life. If I am stressed, that stress is going to go toward putting off writing a resumé or sending a cover letter. I learned very quickly that if I wanted to approach it the right way, I had to have a balanced approach for everything.”
Victoria Tintori will graduate in May 2021 with a degree in psychology. A transfer student from Austin Community College, Tintori contacted Tori Graham in Career Services in 2018 at the end of her sophomore semester following the advice of her academic advisor.
This summer, Tintori joined Dell Technologies for a two-month remote internship in sales. She approached Dell representatives at the career fair in the LBJ Student Center. After she provided her resumé, Dell responded with a paid internship. While the internship was shortened because of the pandemic, Tintori says she didn’t have to tackle Austin traffic and Dell provided all the computer equipment she needed to do her job.
Tintori, who previously worked a part-time job for HEB, says her mother is in sales for Apple. “I wanted to be a psychologist; then thought I would go into human resources. I wanted to use my psychology knowledge and my computer skills. I am minoring in computer science.”
Among the assistance that Tintori found at Career Services was learning how to talk to companies, improving her LinkedIn account, and polishing her resumé. “I am so glad I found out about it before I graduated. I was a very shy person when I came to Texas State. I wanted to reinvent myself — that’s why I went to Career Services.” ✪