So many people are looking for work - and what does it mean for college graduates who are entering a very uncertain job market?
Dr. Elizabeth Zavala, the director of California State University Fullerton's Career Center, joined ABC7 via Skype to discuss the virtual job-hiring space the students need to navigate.
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What kind of advice do you offer a new grad?
"I think the most important thing to know is that most colleges and universities like Cal State University Fullerton have gone virtual. We are working remotely, we are here to service our students. We're actually just launching our first virtual career fair on May 22. We launched it about three weeks ago and we already have about 43 organizations who are still committed to hiring our students. So I think that college students should definitely turn to their career services professionals to help them because we're still operating remotely and employers still want to hire. It might be a little slower than before but we're still seeing a hiring need in various industries."
How does a virtual job fair work?
"There's various ways. Career centers have been able to pivot quickly. Most campuses have. It can be via Zoom. We're actually utilizing a platform, Career Fair Plus. It's an app they can download. Employers create their brand virtually, they see who's coming virtually to the career fair, they invite them via the app to meet with them independently and host sessions. So again, as a country, we've had to pivot, and this is just a new way of hiring and recruiting which is happening and was happening prior to COVID-19. It's just now happening more, because that's the way we need to recruit talent nowadays."
If a student has already locked in a job but needs to move across the country and has to find a place to live, etc. What do you tell that student in that circumstance?
"Actually, most of our students and our individuals who are job searching, if job searching is happening now, it's most likely happening in this virtual space. And individuals can most likely expect a start date to be pushed back. Individuals can potentially expect interviewing, being hired, being offered a job virtually, and then being onboarded and trained online. So I think if you are able to work from home, most likely, you can negotiated all those items that we talked about. It's happening to college students of mine that I know who are negotiating their start time and date and are starting remotely first until the feel comfortable to either make that move across the country and start searching for an apartment or somewhere to live. It's just happening in a more creative way and I think organizations who are hiring are being very understanding of the situation. I think safety is first for everyone, but the work still needs to get done. The reality is that most of this work can be done remotely."
What about students who are about to enter their senior year - and were depending on internships? Can you help them with that?
"Absolutely. Here at Cal State University Fullerton, we are operating sessions, webinars, interviews. We are telling students that in some cases, your start date and/or internship might be postponed to a different time. Many organizations are actually converting those internships into remote internships so maybe what you thought you were going to is going to be a little different in this landscape. Ourselves as well. At Cal State Fullerton, we offer internships. We are hiring them remotely, onboard them remotely, and the work that they're going to be doing is going to be remotely for the time being until we can go back into prior COVID-19 space. First and foremost, I think students should be on LinkedIn. Social media, in this case, is your friend. Update your LinkedIn profile, your resume, practice your Zoom interviewing because like I said in this space, that's how we're meeting people, virtually networking. You're going to be interviewing virtually. Most likely your job offer might be virtually and your onboarding and your training. And most importantly, definitely work with your career services professionals we are here to help you. And we've been able to pivot very quickly to be able to meet h needs of students, and it's interesting we're actually helping and reaching more students in this space than we might have when we were on campus. Some of our sessions could only hold maybe 25, 30 students. Some of our Zoom sessions that we have, where sometimes we invite employers to Zoom in as well to give tips, we're seeing 100-plus students Zoom in. So it's kind of amazing to be in this space. It's different, but at the same time, we're also reaching more students that maybe we might have not prior to COVID-19."
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