If you consider the pandemic and recent economic downturn a basket of lemons, then the Center for Career Development at Curry College has made much more than lemonade this spring, says Director Kerrie Aborn. Acting quickly in March, the CCD shifted its services online and, in the process, found new creative opportunities for students navigating a historically difficult job market.
“Although the pandemic forced us to cancel our Career Fair and some of our planned events, we were able to pivot quickly,” says Aborn. “We launched a new series of virtual events and moved our entire department’s operations online, including offering virtual career advising appointments and class presentations. Whether we’re on or off-campus, our team is dedicated to assisting all of our students and recent graduates with finding the opportunities they need to succeed.”
In place of the Career & Internship Fair traditionally held each April, the CCD created a “Virtual Resume Drop” that allowed students to upload their resume to be featured in an e-Resume book shared with roughly 3,700 potential employers. The CCD team then crafted a customized resume catalog for employers based on the criteria each was seeking in new candidates. Instead of getting lost in a sea of resumes, employers now have access to curated, qualified students, each with interest in their respective fields. “The response from the employers was overwhelmingly positive, and it’s a practice we will continue to do each year moving forward,” says Aborn. More than 240 Curry students contributed to the Virtual Resume Drop, an increase of more than 10 percent from the previous year, which collected resumes in-person at the Career Fair.
The CCD team also launched a new “Look Who’s Hiring” virtual event series where students could meet and speak with potential employers via a Zoom information session. The events featured recruiters from Comcast, the New York State Police, Walker, Inc., and the Catholic Volunteer Network. Because of the virtual environment, Aborn says students gained exposure to companies from all over the country. “Our recruiters led the information sessions from New York, New Jersey, and Florida. Hosting the events remotely only opened new doors for us to engage with companies that might traditionally not have been able to attend our Career Fair on campus.”
Massachusetts-based educational nonprofit Walker, Inc. provides community-based services for children facing emotional, behavioral, and learning challenges. Walker’s Senior Human Resources Generalist Jennifer Reed describes the “Look Who’s Hiring” session as engaging and productive and was pleased to identify a handful of candidates to pursue following the virtual meeting in May. “Of all the schools I’ve been working with this year to recruit interns or full-time job applicants, this virtual event was by far the best experience,” says Reed. “The students were prepared, informed, and engaged. I came away from the event with valuable candidates, and I look forward to establishing additional connections to Curry to build new opportunities and internships for students interested in education, psychology, social work, and more.”
New grad Sophie Barrett ’20 also agrees that the virtual offerings from the Career Center are successful. The sociology major recently received two job offers from employers she met via the information sessions or who identified her from the e-Resume book. “The Career Center helped me when I wasn’t sure how or where I should be researching and looking for jobs,” she says. “They strengthened my resume, showed me potential jobs on Indeed.com, and even advised on which of the two jobs I should accept. The team is amazing, and I know their help is why I’ve been successful during such a tough job market.” Barrett will start her new position in July at the New England Center for Children and wants to ultimately pursue graduate school to go on to a career in social work.
Curry alumni have valuable perspectives to share as well. Human Resources Director Pam Brown ’93 – who works to align talent with organizational goals at Gallagher, a global insurance brokerage, risk management, and consulting firm – is optimistic about the job market recovering and advises new graduates to spend the next six months volunteering, securing informational interviews, and building a network, as part of their job search.
“We have hired recently and are starting to see the same from our competitors. We are always recruiting salespeople, and strong networkers with transferable skills are needed,” says Brown. “Until you get the job, who you know is important. Invest some time learning how to network. Google free articles and videos, and then practice. It’s also important to be open to making calls and facing some rejection. When that happens, pick yourself up and keep trying. I had three internships when I attended Curry College. Sometimes learning what is not of interest is as important as finding a dream internship.”
Aborn also advises that now is the time for students and new graduates to take advantage of free training and resources offered as a result of the pandemic including presentation, communication and leadership skills. The early success from the move to remote work has set a new precedent for the Center for Career Development and the team looks forward to developing additional innovative programming for the fall. Until then, Aborn and the career advisors are all readily available this summer for virtual consultations and appointments. “We might not be physically in the office yet, but we’re here and still working for all of our students.”