2020 college graduates are seeking virtual work in their fields to secure employment during the pandemic.
BY ANDREA SWIEDOM – THE FRANKLIN JOURNAL
College students graduating this May will enter a job market that has already seen 20.5 million people out of work primarily due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To better assist students with securing employment, career centers at colleges and universities throughout Maine are offering their services virtually.
More than 1,000 students will graduate from the University of Southern Maine (USM) this spring, and to assist these new alumni with the unique employment challenges posed by the pandemic, the school’s career and employment hub is now offering virtual appointments, workshops and mock interviews.
“We have shifted our services to be able to address these challenges by providing resources in order to help students be creative about how they are networking, practicing virtual interviews and validating that we have up to date information about our employer partners. Finally, making sure our student applications are exemplary so they put their best foot forward when applying to open positions,” USM manager of operations at the Career & Employment Hub Andy Osheroff said in an email.
For USM [Honors Program] graduate Casey Ahlemeyer who majored in chemistry, the pandemic completely shifted her plans to take a break from school, work a part-time job and look for openings in her field over the summer.
“Strangely enough, I felt pressure and anxiety to move fast to secure something quickly. I was scared to face unemployment, and I was pressured to start saving money because I didn’t anticipate how difficult working part-time would be,” Ahlemeyer said in an email. “Especially with businesses closing and laying off employees, there were not many places to choose from, and the job market was starting to get competitive for those positions.”
Osheroff stressed that USM’s mission is to encourage students to pursue work and internship opportunities alongside their studies.
“This allows our students to leverage past internships and other activities to be more competitive during this uncertain time,” Osheroff said.
Ahlemeyer was able to capitalize on her previous internships at Maine Medical Center’s Research Institute and at IDEXX Laboratories to market herself as an experienced job candidate. Abbott Labs in Scarborough which has recently developed a COVID-19 test, hired Ahlemeyer as a quality technician.