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Graduating this week. Now what?

Graduating this week. Now what?

Prepping to enter the workforce and landing a job during the pandemic

May 6, 2020 at 10:14am

For those who are graduating in just a few days, one question looms large: What's next?

Normally, seniors would be sending out résumés, applying for jobs and grabbing their business attire for interviews.

The pandemic has turned all of that on its head. But there’s still some light at the end of the tunnel.

There are a number of resources available through the Career and Talent Development office to help you prepare to join the workforce, and there are opportunities for people seeking jobs or professional experiences through internships.

For starters, the Career and Talent Development office is offering all its usual services remotely. There are virtual peer-led drop-in hours and virtual appointments through Zoom with career advisors. There are also online professional development and informational workshops conducted by the team.

Ivette Duarte, director of the office, is happy to report that FIU students are taking full advantage of these events. In fact, she says attendance for these virtual workshops has quadrupled in size since remote learning began, with a 133 percent increase in student participation.

“This is the time to get ready,” Duarte says. “Take advantage of these opportunities. Mock interviews, personality and interest assessments we can do virtually, all these things. It’s prep time. It’s getting ready for when this all blows over.”

Job market

“Creativity is the crux of everything right now,” Duarte adds. “How do you reinvent yourself and go about the job market? It’s about not giving up.”

So, what exactly does the job market look like now? Yep, there are less jobs available, Duarte says. “But the good news is companies are still looking for FIU students.”

There is a steady stream of job postings on Handshake – the digital platform used by the office – from employers seeking Panthers for their jobs. It might be different than what you expect, but you just might find yourself doing job interviews through Zoom or Skype and maybe even starting a job remotely or in-person, depending on the needs of your employer.

One particular job market that has taken a hit is, of course, the hospitality industry.

“Airlines, resorts, hotels, restaurants, sporting events, [etc.] have been impacted,” says Lourdes Torres, assistant director of Employer Relations at the Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management’s Career Development Program. “With the sudden closure of some of these businesses, companies in these areas have been unfortunately forced to downsize their employees or radically cut the hours that they work.”

If you’re looking for a job in one of these areas, you probably won’t find one right now. And if you’re strapped for cash, finding employment in another field might be the way to go for the moment, Torres says.

It might or might not be your dream job, but essential jobs are available. You may also consider jobs in education, says Duarte, explaining that if you earned a degree in a subject area (i.e. chemistry, math, history, English, etc.) you are qualified to earn temporary certification to teach virtually.

Folks in computer sciences or customer service might also find jobs in these fields and can work remotely to fulfill their duties. Duarte adds that for anyone interested in public service, especially working in areas related to disaster management and FEMA, you definitely have a chance at finding a job now.

FEMA is one of hundreds of federal agencies that are still hiring. The Career and Talent Development office is hosting a week-long series on federal hiring from June 22-26 to help students and grads learn about federal opportunities. Registration will open soon on the FIU Handshake web portal


If you don’t find job openings that you’re comfortable with, another great option to boost your resume is available: micro-internships. You might have not heard about these before, but they’re all the rage now.

An organization called Parker Dewey connects students and recent grads with employers to work on short-term paid projects virtually. For many grads, this might be the perfect way to keep gaining professional experience and earn a little cash – from the safety of home.

Life after graduation

If you’re crossing the virtual commencement stage this week, what should you be doing?

Do your research, Duarte says. You need to find out which employers are hiring right now and how jobs are being reinvented. Are employers at your chosen company offering remote jobs? New jobs? Reducing jobs?

If you haven’t done so already, make sure to get your resume critiqued by a career advisor. A strong resume will help you stand out now – and later on.

Duarte says this is also the perfect time for grads to expand their network. This could mean connecting with friends of friends who are employed, folks that your professors or former internship supervisors might know or anybody who is in a field you are interested in. Duarte recommends grads conduct informational interviews via Zoom with people whose careers they are interested in learning more about.

“People have time on their hands,” she says. “Take advantage of all these professional opportunities and certifications.”

Another path some students may be considering: graduate school. For some folks, this is a great time to start grad school early or dive into a thorough search for the best graduate programs in their desired fields.

Whichever path you choose, Duarte says, keep in mind that at some point life will go back to normal. And you’ll be ready to shine.

For more information about the Career and Talent Development’s resources, check out the office’s website.