Alumni offer tips for job searching during a pandemic

The School of Communications hosted a panel discussion for students seeking employment in a turbulent economy.

Olivia Allen-Price, Conor Britain and Craig Campbell, all 2009 alumni, spoke to students about their experiences looking for work during the recession almost a decade ago and offered advice about how to job search in a down economy.

In 2009, college students across the country graduated into a recession and a depleted job market. Almost a decade later, students are facing similar challenges because of the coronavirus pandemic. On May 7, Elon School of Communications alumni Olivia Allen-Price ’09, Craig Campbell ’09 and Conor Britain ’09, G’10 discussed their experiences job hunting in a struggling economy and shared their best advice for finding a job in unprecedented times.

Allen-Price, host and editor of the “Bay Curious” podcast for KQED in San Francisco, said before she graduated she submitted almost 50 job applications over the course of about six weeks. She was originally aiming for a job as a newspaper reporter, but she found more open positions for “online producers” and decided to pivot her search.

“It’s your first job, not your forever job,” Allen-Price said. “Don’t put too much pressure on yourself that this needs to be the perfect job, or this is what you are going to be doing forever.”

Britain, who graduated as part of the inaugural Interactive Media class in 2010, said his situation was unique, as the job he landed after graduation ended up being the one he stuck with for seven years. His strategy when job hunting was to look for companies and work that interested him.

“Find a place that excites you, even if you don’t know how you fit in at that company,” Britain said.

For students who just graduated, the alumni said using LinkedIn and social media to connect with potential employers and learn more about their field is crucial. Allen-Price said she recommends students connect with more recent graduates to learn about the work they’re doing and how they found employment.

“LinkedIn is an amazing resource for finding a job,” Allen-Price said.

Ross Wade, senior associate director of career services, agreed, explaining that the benefits that come from consistent engagement on LinkedIn are significant – even if it is just twice a week in between classes.

“Participating and being a part of the culture of LinkedIn is so important,” Wade said.

Campbell, senior producer at Music Choice in New York City, said dream jobs are difficult to find anyway, but tougher in a shaky job market. But even if that position is unavailable, it’s important for job seekers to engage with the people and the industry they’re interested in.

“If there’s something you’re really passionate about, or a place that you’re really passionate about being a part of, continue to make yourself a part of that,” Campbell said.

While many students may not know what job they are looking for, Campbell said thinking about skills they gained in college and what they like to do can be a great starting point.

“The act of working in and of itself, in my opinion, is a good resume addition,” Campbell said. “Be less concerned about knowing exactly what you want to do and be more concerned about continuing to learn once you graduate.”