BOONE, N.C. — Appalachian State University’s Career Development Center (CDC) is working to ensure university students have virtual access to career resources — including new options created specifically in response to the shift to virtual platforms, due to COVID-19.
“Right now, this pandemic is having a widespread impact on the economy,” said Dr. Susan McCracken, director of career development and economic engagement. “We can't deny the reality of what is happening, but we can control our response to it.”
By the conclusion of the university’s extended spring break (March 9–20), the Career Development Center had successfully transitioned all career coaching and career exploration appointments from in-person to Zoom options.
The center already uses an online career management system called Handshake. Students can continue to use this software to make appointments — and now Handshake immediately provides a Zoom link for their appointment.
McCracken said students are “actively making appointments with their career coaches — 25 students made appointments in just one week.”
Additionally, she said one of the more popular topics of discussion is “choosing a major,” because at this time in the spring semester, students are simultaneously scheduling appointments with their academic advisers to register for fall courses.
The Career Development Center has also added these new online offerings:
- Virtual Career Meetups are held twice daily, with topics including resume and cover letters, LinkedIn, Handshake, salary negotiation, job searching in a time of uncertainty and choosing a major, among others.
- Career Studio is now conducted via Zoom. Monday through Thursday, students have access to two daily meetings — one for each CDC career guide — to get career assistance. Career guides also offer resume and cover letter reviews via email.
- Career Exploration Virtual Drop-Ins are held virtually on Mondays and Wednesdays via Zoom and are designed for students who have not yet selected a major.
- The Education Career Fair has been reimagined as a virtual event to be held via Zoom on Monday, April 20, with more than 70 schools and school districts scheduled to participate.
- Two workshops focused on applying for unemployment have been offered for students and alumni, and the center plans to offer at least one additional workshop on the topic.
According to McCracken, the CDC has received emails from students and faculty sharing their appreciation for CDC resources.
In one such email, Chase Newmyer, a senior computer information systems major from Midland and president of Appalachian Student Ambassadors, wrote, “Thanks for always thinking of us and our well-being, and for consistently supporting us regardless of any situation.”
McCracken confirmed that while the job market is challenging, many employers are continuing to hire — particularly in fields such as health care, online companies, shipping and delivery, and manufacturing for health care devices.
She recommended students use their time during this new normal to work on the following:
- Learn new skills.
- Take advantage of free training and webinars offered by professional associations.
- Conduct informational interviews with Career Development Center and/or LinkedIn contacts.
- Practice interviewing skills with a career coach or through Big Interview, the CDC’s online training system for interview preparation.
- Talk to faculty members about their career path and industry connections, and talk to family members about their career paths and lessons learned.
- Refine Handshake and/or LinkedIn profiles.
- Journal and spend time envisioning the type of career and life they want to have.
- Take advantage of the diverse workshops offered by the Career Development Center.
McCracken said career resources are particularly critical for students entering this uncertain career landscape.
She advises graduating students to focus on creating an action plan, identify and explore their values, improve their skill sets and create a network of support. Students who do those things “are the ones who will be best poised to take advantage of opportunities in the new economy,” she said.
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About the Career Development Center
The Career Development Center at Appalachian State University supports the mission of the university and its Division of Student Affairs in developing lifelong learners and leaders by engaging and challenging students within a culture of care and inclusion. Students who participate in the center’s services are able to identify core values, beliefs and skills and use them to articulate relatable career goals; acquire transferable skills and relevant experiences for future professional endeavors; and utilize resources that are available to gain experiential learning opportunities and cultivate professional networks. Learn more at https://careers.appstate.edu.
About Appalachian State University
As the premier public undergraduate institution in the state of North Carolina, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls more than 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.