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COVID-19 is leaving millions of Americans unemployed, causing some concern for graduating seniors and students looking for a job or internship.
John Rindy, the director of Career Services at SRU, said that many careers are being affected but that there are still some markets that are relatively unaffected.
“Human services and K-12 are two markets off the top of my head that will be relatively unaffected by COVID-19,” Rindy said. “All of the people who needed human services before still need human services and people will be retiring and coming and going as always.”
He said students coming out with psychology, social work and criminology degrees are going to be needed in those same human services roles. He added that as far as teachers go, all people who were going to go to kindergarten in the fall will still be going to kindergarten and all projected seniors in high school will still be seniors.
“That won’t change,” Rindy said. “They may have to teach online at some schools if this runs into the fall, but teachers will still be needed.”
He said on the other hand, some markets that are definitely affected would be industries dealing with leisure activities.
“It might take a while for people to have the confidence to get back on planes, travel to resorts, hang out for a couple weeks in another country or at the beach, or go to a football game,” Rindy said. “All leisure time activities will be impacted for the time being.”
Rindy said a lot of organizations, not just sports organizations and hospitality organizations, will be affected, and that other areas such as banking has to furlough a lot of people.
“The question is what about the middle of the road companies such as banking and finance,” Rindy said. “Will companies call everybody back if we have a quick recovery and then immediately get back to hiring? Will some companies choose not to bring some people back because they have found out through this whole process that there are things they can do virtually now and don’t need people back?”
He said he thinks there will be certain companies that had processes that required certain people that suddenly do not because they quickly adapted to doing things virtually and do not need people to take these jobs. Rindy also said how many people will be called back from furlough and how many new jobs will be available is in question.
Rindy said since the time when COVID-19 started, the career office has seen a severe downturn on Handshake of new companies requesting posting privileges to SRU’s Handshake.
“It dropped to maybe one or two a day for several weeks,” Rindy said. “We would normally see anywhere from 25-30 new companies a day wanting to post to SRU.”
He said the job and internship postings also plummeted really low, but now in the last week, the requests have started going back up. He said they had 10 new requests from companies on Tuesday.
“It is starting to turn around,” Rindy said. “Just like the curve is going down with COVID-19, our job postings are starting to go back up.”
Rindy said his biggest piece of advice to students during this time, besides his typical “you’re either networking or your not working,” has been to work on the things you can control and let go of the things you cannot.
“Let’s say hiring is down,” Rindy said. “Don’t just look in Pittsburgh. Look in more cities. You can control that but can’t control how many jobs are in Pittsburgh.”
He said you can control how you search for jobs, where you search for jobs, how prepared you are as you search for jobs, and the types of jobs you are willing to take. He added that it is not about settling, but about being open to looking beyond just your hometown.
Rindy also said it is important if someone has a job interview or search that is not moving along to figure out other jobs in industries that are still moving forward where they could build requisite skills that would allow them to tell stories during a real job interview. He said sales jobs will hit the ground running after this pandemic is over.
“People who never thought they would be in sales will be in sales and we know why,” Rindy said. “These companies need to jumpstart moving their products and services again, so there will be a lot of sales jobs open and a lot of people will do it for 6 months and either be really good at it or not be really good at it. Then companies will clean out their sales forces and it will go down to their normal numbers.”
Rindy said people who can work well with others and speak persuasively should seek sales opportunities where they think they would be excited about the products or services, during the time when sales companies are really trying to stack up to try to get their products or services moving.
Rindy said both students going into careers that are affected and not affected by COVID-19 should be doing everything possible to present themselves for these jobs. He said all western PASSHE schools have been hosting virtual events and not many students are attending.
“We hear students are nervous, but we are running all kinds of career programming and they aren’t coming to it,” Rindy said. “Students should be doing whatever they can to make themselves the best candidate.”
He said students should be working with a career coach to talk about skills that they could use in other industries. Students can access career services and make appointments to talk to a career coach by going onto their Handshake account using their SRU login.
“Hopefully you’ve used a career coach, have your resume built up, and have attended one of our virtual career sessions,” Rindy said. “I have hosted one individually, and out of 5 PASSHE west schools, there was one person there and it was a graduate student.”
Rindy said another way to find internship and job postings besides Handshake, which is catered to SRU, is going to PA CareerLink to find specific “COVID-19 hiring immediately” jobs. Rindy said some of the top job titles that are hiring right now are registered nurse, staff nurse, shift supervisor, clinical nurse, sales representative, account manager, financial analyst, customer service representative and software development engineer.