SoCal job hunting for grads: Virtual internships, alumni networks and other tips from a USC expert

Experts say new college graduates will need to change their approach to finding a job during these unprecedented times. USC's Career Center's senior director provides advice on where they should begin. staff KABC logo
Friday, May 15, 2020
USC career expert's tips for job hunting during COVID-19
From virtual internships to alumni networking, here are some tips from a USC career expert for recent college grads on job hunting in a COVID-19 economy.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Unemployment has hit record highs, as the economy continues to take a deeper hit. We are committed to helping people get back on their feet through our ABC7 Solutions: SoCal Hiring campaign.

For graduating seniors it's a very uncertain job market. Lori Shreve Blake, senior director with USC's Career Center, joined ABC7 via Skype to talk about where to start.

How have internships changed?

"Internships are virtual now. With COVID-19 we're in the situation where some of the major employers are converting their physical on-site interviews or internships into actual virtual internships," said Shreve Blake. "We encourage our students to get those micro-internships, special projects and be resourceful during these times."

What's the best way to do an informational interview?

"The best way to do an informational interview is really to contact the person. I know at USC we have something called the Trojan network, which is a database of alumni who agreed to talk to students. LinkedIn is great and it doesn't matter where you went to college. You can research alumni that are working in your industry of choice and send them a an email and request an informational interview. And 80% of jobs come through networking. We know it works. And so, informational interviewing is the number one thing that people should be doing lots of. And then the most important question to ask is there anybody else that you recommend that I speak with?"

What do you tell students who are feeling overwhelmed in this job market?

"What we need to do is keep moving forward. Don't put the brakes on your job search. Understand that there still are jobs out there. I know of a few cases. General Mills hiring for supply chain management. What I really want students and graduates to know is that in addition to the big Fortune 1000 companies, there are midsize companies, there are small companies. There are companies you've never heard of who are doing very well during this time of COVID. And seek out opportunities in those organizations. So it's gonna take a little bit more research, a little bit more work, a little bit more determination, but they will succeed if they keep on trying."

"And what a great story to tell after COVID is over: About how they were resilient and they found work even during these tough times."