While the coronavirus has infected over a million people across the world, it has also caused up to 701,000 American employees to lose their jobs in March alone, USA TODAY reported Friday.
In light of the pandemic, career coach Scott Singer, a 1993 graduate of Boston University’s College of Arts and Sciences and president of Insider Career Strategies LLC, presented a webinar Tuesday which allowed BU students and alumni to learn about how to find job opportunities in this challenging time.
Jeff Murphy, an associate director of career programs at BU Development and Alumni Relations who also hosted the “Managing Your Career in the Age of Coronavirus” webinar, which was sponsored by the BU Alumni Association, wrote in an email that it is important to host webinars for alumni and spark connections.
“Offering these presentations online give[s] our alumni a chance to connect with and learn from other BU grads in a live talk from wherever they live around the world,” Murphy wrote to The Daily Free Press.
The webinar was available for all BU alumni and current students to view via the video conferencing platform Zoom, and consisted of topics related to the coronavirus and the job market, including advice for maintaining your career, what to do if you have been laid off and advice for current students seeking internships.
Singer said companies are focusing on the crisis and shifting their resources.The needs and demands of the job market are constantly changing, he said, which affects hiring and employees.
“Companies right now are focusing on critical roles,” Singer said during the webinar. “And what might have been a critical role six months ago is definitely different than what it is right now. They’re doing that to gauge an outlook on what the market’s going to look like, but also to enable them to focus on what’s important right now.”
Offering advice to students, Singer said that although summer internships may be cut or reduced, there are other ways students can build a resume without those opportunities. For instance, he said, in-class projects can still be used as accomplishments for resume-builders.
“I always encourage people to think about the projects they’ve done in their classes and use those as an accomplishment,” Singer said in the talk. “This is probably a better time to focus on [group projects] and really amping those up if an internship is not available.”
As for people just entering the workforce, Singer said in an interview that people should stay persistent and flexible in their job search.
“Number one is to be assertive, to continue to really not lose focus on the job search and to really maintain their engagement in the job search,” Singer said. “But I think the other thing is flexibility. People that are graduating need to maintain flexibility, because the job market is going to look very different.”
While he said he believes the job market will operate differently in response to the pandemic, Singer said he wants people not to lose hope.
“Companies may be responding in a much slower manner, or their hiring needs may be reduced,” Singer said in the interview. “What the talent is that they’re looking for may be different than what they were even looking for a few months ago.”
Sherry Zheng, a senior in the College of Communication, is currently in the job search process. She said that though some positions exist, the pandemic has made it noticeably more difficult to find a job.
“It seems like there are still several positions for entry level marketing or public relations positions,” Zheng said, “but I would definitely say that compared to what I’ve seen a month or two months ago, I think [the options are] less.”
No matter what people’s situations are during this time, Murphy wrote, everyone could benefit from attending BU’s webinars. He said Singer’s presentation was important in how it related to the current crisis.
“I loved that [Singer]’s presentation today offered something for all alumni and students,” Murphy wrote Tuesday, “whether they are (gratefully) still working, if their employment has been altered or ended since the COVID-19 pandemic, or if they are currently working on a degree and have concerns about how [the] world of work is going to be different after they graduate.”
Daniel Gardiner, a marketing associate for BU’s Alumni Relations, said in an interview that these webinars help people navigate jobs not only in this unpredictable time, but through all challenges that may arise.
“Whether you are a recent grad just starting out, maybe mid-career looking to change paths, or returning to the workplace after caring for children or aging parents or if you’re preparing for retirement, we really try to cover all of our bases and provide some sort of engaging content that features our alumni experts who can share insights and share their expertise,” Gardiner said.