Job searching during COVID-19


Kira Gifford, Reporter

With fall semester ending and students starting looking towards spring semester and graduation, some may feel a sense of worry and stress trying to nail down a job after college.  

Finding a job after graduation in years past has been an exciting time for most students as they become adults and get a real job; however, for some students soon graduating, this job search brings dread rather than anticipation.  

When COVID-19 hit in March 2020, many businesses and organizations had to temporarily close because of statewide shut down procedures, resulting in high unemployment rates.  

“The unemployment rate rose from 3.5% in February to 14.7% in April, the highest rate since the Great Depression,” Susan Ladika wrote in her article “The Nature of Work” for CQ Researcher.  

For college students looking for a job or an internship, these numbers do not look promising.  

Since last spring, many jobs have told employees to expect working from home to become a new norm across the American white-collar workplace. Mark Zuckerberg told employees to expect 48,000 of them to be working from home permanently in the next five to 10 years. 

Students are also seeing companies and organizations having to lay off current employees and less opportunities for jobs or internships. 

“It has definitely been harder to find an internship now, due to COVID-19, than in the past,” Madison Dulas, a senior majoring in sociology, said. “In my experience, of the companies that have formerly offered internships, many have reduced internship positions somewhat or entirely, due to financial restraints or reduced staffing.” 

Though many students believe there are fewer employment opportunities, Sherry Fuller, director of the Career Development Office, says that companies and organizations are now starting to open internship and job applications again. Employers have figured out how to adapt their internship positions to work with COVID-19 guidelines and keep the safety of their employees a priority and are now hiring again for summer 2021, according to Fuller

The work environment for these internships will look different. Some examples include the requirement of masks to be worn in the office, creating shifts for employees to alternate working in the office and working from home and changing field work and customer contact procedures. 

Students who are actively looking for internships or job positions will have to be open to these changes and open to looking at opportunities outside of their ideal location. 

Margaret Winkels, a senior early childhood education major, has expressed her concern about finding a job in her ideal location, but is open to expanding her search if she can find an in-person option. 

“My ideal teaching job would be somewhere I am able to be in person for and in a location around the  places I want to be,” Winkels said.  

Fuller said that it is important for students to take time to work on resumes, updating  profiles, and preparing themselves for the application process so when an opportunity becomes available they are able to apply right away.  

Some ways students can prepare for applying to jobs mid-pandemic is to update their web presence. The Career Development Office is pushing for students to take advantage of LinkedIn and Handshake now more than ever.  

LinkedIn is a professional social networking tool for students to connect with potential employers. This  platform allows students to create a profile that matches their resume, add important skills, post  professional work examples and allows them to flag job openings in their desired field.  

Handshake is a platform the Career Development Office offers to SDSU students, alumni and employers  looking for college students or graduates. The job options offered on Handshake are intended for college students, so there will not be requirements such as 10+ years of experience. 

Handshake also offers educational tools like a library full of resources and the ability to schedule an  appointment with someone from the Career Development Office to ask questions and get help with job  applications.  

“(I use) Handshake and LinkedIn to find potential jobs and internships and to stay connected with my peers and colleagues as well as business professionals,” Johannah Nielsen, a junior dairy production and animal science/pre-vet major, said.

Fuller also advises students to attend virtual career fairs and virtual job panels to learn more about job  opportunities during the pandemic.  

“Students need to embrace this new technology in their job search process just like their academic learning,” Fuller said. “These opportunities are very different than being in a class.” 

The Career Development Office held four virtual career fairs during the fall semester and are planning on holding four more during the spring semester. These virtual fairs provide more opportunities for students because companies and organizations are not limited by a budget. Through the fall, the virtual career fairs hosted more employers than previous in-person ones. 

“We had a representative from Amazon attend our School of NESS career fair for the first time this fall,” Fuller said. “That was pretty cool.”  

The fundamentals are still very important, but being flexible and open to new workplace environments and technology is going to be beneficial for students trying to find jobs, according to Fuller.

“In some ways it is easier to apply to jobs,” Winkels said. “Interviews, meetings and information sessions are all online over Zoom or other live video platforms, so it is easier to fit them into a college schedule and get to more of them!”