Summer success: 8 things Elon students can do to get ahead in the 2020 job market

The SPDC has expanded resources available to Elon students and alumni, has contacts with employers hiring during COVID-19, and is ready to help you traverse the job market.

Though COVID-19 has thrown the global economy for a loop, this time offers an opportunity for Elon students to set themselves apart, according to the Student Professional Development Center.

Students who demonstrate resilience and the ability to look beyond the immediacy of this uncertain moment will stand out.

“The economy and undergraduate hiring will be slow this summer, but it will turn around as companies work through this health crisis,” said SPDC Executive Director Tom Brinkley. “Students who are prepared for that will be first in line for employers, we think.”

Employers will be looking to see how future job applicants responded to adversity in this time. Did they take a summer off if a planned job or internship fell through, or did they find ways to volunteer or complete an internship remotely? It’s easy to guess which resume a hiring manager will prefer.

Here are some steps to take now to set yourself up for success:

Keep your chin up.

This may be the most important advice of all. Don’t be discouraged. Plan a detour around this unexpected economic downturn.

Accept an abbreviated or remote internship. The Elon Job Network has information about internships available to undergraduates and the SPDC staff can help you get your foot in the door.

Try volunteering with an agency in your home community. Brinkley offered the example of completing an unpaid internship or volunteer stint with an agency by aiding in social media outreach or communication.

“There will be setbacks, but what we really need students to do is not give up,” Brinkley said. “Have perseverance and grit. Don’t be disappointed if you hear the word ‘no’. Even if you lose a dream internship, find alternative ways to make this a meaningful summer through other experiences.

“Now is the time to explore a plan B, and a plan C,” Brinkley said.

Strengthen your skills.

Elon students have free access to Skillsoft’s Perspectives 2020 digital learning library with more than 700 courses and 90-day access to their learning platform, Percipio.

Courses are designed to deepen specific skills — such as graphic design, foreign language fluency, and software training — and broaden leadership skills that employers look for. Perspectives 2020 will host lectures and discussions with dozens of professional leaders in a range of fields.

Use the SPDC’s new Career Community Resources to plan your path.

The updated Career Community Resources pages on the SPDC site provides curated information, trends and outlooks in areas of industry and professions including:

  • Business
  • Creative Arts, Communications, and Sport and Entertainment
  • Education
  • Non-Profit, Human Services and Government
  • Pre-Health and Healthcare
  • Pre-Law and Law
  • Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM)

The first thing you’ll find in each of the seven career communities is an updated list of employers hiring during COVID-19.

The SPDC expedited the rollout of the revamped Career Community resources to serve students during the COVID-19 pandemic, said Laurie Judge, senior associate director of career services for Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences. This resource is tailored to students, giving quick access to advisers, faculty, majors and departments, campus contacts, employment outlooks and news in those fields. Each field has a designated career adviser who regularly updates the information and is available to assist students.

“It creates a one-stop destination for good information for students seeking employment in specific fields,” Judge said, “and they can always reach out to a career adviser to get additional information.”

Meet virtually with a career advisor.

The SPDC has expanded its hours to meet student needs, with virtual appointment availability extended through 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday. The SPDC continues to operate virtually Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., to assist Elon students and alumni in achieving career goals.

Schedule appointments through the Elon Job Network. Career advisors are available to meet via WebEx, over the phone, live chat and through email with students and alumni seeking assistance in their search for internship, career or graduate school opportunities.

Consider graduate school.

If you’re a graduating senior, many graduate programs have extended their fall admissions deadlines and some have waived requirements like the GRE. New programs are also launching, Brinkley said, mentioning a new MBA program targeted to non-business majors without work experience at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (a top 20 MBA school). If you’re not certain what your path looks like after graduation, this is an opportune time to explore an advanced degree.

Make a LinkedIn profile and register on LifelongElon.

Don’t have a LinkedIn page yet? This is the perfect time to create your profile and begin building a professional network. Polish it. Reach out to the SPDC if you have questions or need advice.

“LinkedIn is not just for business majors,” Brinkley said. “It is the premier professional social media platform and all students should have a professional profile.”

The university’s new platform allows you to connect with Elon alumni and open new networks with potential mentors and employers.

Sharpen your cover letters and resumes.

Use the SPDC website and resources to craft your resume and cover letters. There are still internships and jobs available, and crisp applications matter.

Keep checking the SPDC website and EJN for new opportunities.

The SPDC is planning a number of virtual networking and information events throughout the spring and summer. Events will be advertised on the SPDC website.

The SPDC also provides several online career development tools to students and alumni, including:

  • Big Interview, a 24/7 online interview practice tool.
  • MyPlan, an online suite of career planning tools that walks students through a personality assessment, career interest inventory, resume preparation, and even major exploration and job samples (create an account and use code VAVDW5VQ to take assessments free of charge).
  • Candid Career videos which provide career tips, industry and occupational information, and other “how to” tips related to career planning.