Time management, organization, communication, and effective scheduling are skills that senior biology major Nicholas Cristoforo said are only enhanced by working virtually with Shippensburg University’s Career, Mentoring, and Professional Development Center (CMPD).

“I have found working virtually, although necessitating some alterations, has proven to be more than an adequate substitution for meeting in person. Much of what we’ve been doing in an office translated easily to an online setting,” Cristoforo said.

Making connections now is key for students preparing to launch their careers in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, said Lorie Davis, executive director of the CPMD.

Headlines about the impact of COVID-19 on the economy can feel dire to students who are ready to start their careers. Fortunately, there are jobs available. That’s why Davis stresses that networking is vital and can lead to job offers down the road.

“Instead of having students postpone their job search, we thought it was important to keep the networking connections with employers open,” Davis said. For the CPMD, that means offering all normal services, including resume appointments, coordinating a virtual career fair, conducting job searches, and more.

Implementing a virtual career fair might be new, but Davis hopes it presents some of the same interactions as their on-campus fair. Students will speak face-to-face with employers on camera. Davis said it’s important for students to be comfortable in front of the camera and understand this is new territory for everyone. Employers who are unable to participate in the virtual career fair will provide their company contact information to students.

“Victoria (Kerr, director of CMPD) has provided numerous job-searching websites related to my field of interest in addition to resources on how to build up a stronger resume, create a cover letter, and information on upcoming university-hosted career events that have since been converted to function in an online setting,” Cristoforo said. “I think above all, though, she helped me realize that job searching isn’t as daunting as I may have initially thought it to be. It’s important to know what is expected, of course, but Victoria helped break it down into sections that made the whole process seem more manageable than taking it all on at once.”

Davis said it’s admirable to witness the resilient nature of Ship students, especially graduating seniors. She encourages students to reach out and work with the career center to establish connections that will help when the job market returns to normal. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics states over 70 percent of employers hire from people who were recommended to them.

“Let us help them now during this time,” she said.

Although interviews will be held virtually for the foreseeable future, Davis said students should prepare as normal. Research the company, know the position, and discover goals for the company in preparation for an interview. She reminds students they need the required equipment to conduct an online interview and should make sure it works.

Davis also suggested avoiding shortcuts during an online interview. “Don’t make the mistake of dressing from the waist up. You will feel more put together if you are 100 percent dressed and treating it like an in-person interview.”