On April 3rd, 2020 over 70+ campus recruiters and career educators from the CACEE community gathered to participate in a virtual session focused on our transition to new ways in carrying out our work in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. There was candid conversations and recognition from everyone on-line that flexibility, adaptability, and continuous open lines of communication were pivotal to success during this unprecedented time. Here are a few of the key takeaways from this session:
Transition was rapid, and while it may have been bumpy at times, tools and strategies are in play
On the whole, the transition to a remote working environment happened very quickly. Many described it as smoother than expected, that they now have the tools they need to respond to the needs of students and are putting more concrete strategies into place to adapt to the new reality we are all working in. Of course, the greatest concern was dealing with the acute needs of students. Virtual appointments with career educators, for the most part, appear to be going well on platforms like Zoom, Skype for Business, Teams, etc. Most students are fluent with the technology and feel comfortable engaging virtually. Employers are also connecting with students using virtual tools and are doing the best they can to assess how they might be able to preserve internships, summer jobs, and full-time roles that are slated to begin later this Spring.
Students (and, all of us really) are being encouraged to think creatively and beyond ‘traditional’ experience
Obviously students are anxious and feeling concerned about how the economic realities of COVID-19 will impact their career prospects down the line. Perspectives were shared around reminding students that employers are definitely aware of (and, also experiencing) the havoc in the labour market right now. In fact, for most, it is unlike anything they have ever seen before. So, lower than expected performance in classes, minor gaps in employment history or a “lack of experience” will be well understood and factored into decisions made by employers in the future.
Students may also benefit from choosing to demonstrate how they spent this period of time – developing a new skill, acquiring additional knowledge and expertise, volunteering, entrepreneurship, or making a contribution to their community during this challenging time. Some employers and institutions are looking at innovative ways to collaborate on experiential learning opportunities that could be completed virtually, and may also contribute to efforts to fight or support economic recovery from COVID-19. Work study programs are also being explored as options for ‘re-tooling’, to provide greater options for students.
There was also really great discussion about students being open to being redeployed to roles within organizations that they were not initially hired for. The realities for both employers and students have shifted dramatically. And, the roles that organizations had originally intended to create may not be possible in this new set of circumstances. That said, students appear to be very open to shifting their expectations and having their skillsets used where they are needed most by an employer.
All are encouraged to keep communication open with students and to have candid conversations. Students may even have ideas to share or to help support how they could best contribute at this time.
Virtual events are on the way (if not already here)…
Many career centres and employers are moving ahead with events and vehicles to support virtual engagement. These include career fairs (e.g. Eventus, Brazen, Orbis, etc.), information sessions, networking, resume critiques, and virtual interviews (e.g. Hirevue). There is a lot of creativity and innovation being shown by many in our community of practice right now.
Keep the conversations going in the CACEE LinkedIN Group, on Twitter, and by reaching out to one another! There is a lot of insight, expertise, and perspective available to you right here in the CACEE community.
If you would like a recording of this session, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to sign up for the next CACEE Connect on April 9th, 2020 from 12 – 12:45 pm ET where we will be talking about “Best Practices for Hosting Virtual Info Sessions”. Come with your ideas, tips, and insights ready to share!
Until next time…