FAQs: How the Career Center Can Help You During the Coronavirus Pandemic

The Career Center is here to support you through this challenging time. 

Please take a look at the frequently asked questions below. If these don’t answer your questions, please email us! We also invite you to see our advice and resources designed specifically for our current situation, What You Can Do in Summer 2020.

IS THE CAREER CENTER OPEN?

YES.  We are available for email, phone, and video advising, as well as online programming. Click here and use our online scheduling tool to find an advisor who is a good fit for your interests.

We have dedicated resources for quick questions and document reviews each weekday (resume, cover letter, personal statement, application).  Please leave a detailed message at 314-935-5930. Someone will get back to you as soon as possible to schedule a 20 minute conversation slot with a career adviser.

Following guidelines from our University as well as the CDC, we have postponed our on-campus programs and events.  However, we do offer virtual programming. Check here for events to help keep your career education going.

WHAT ABOUT SUMMER STIPENDS?

The Career Center offers summer internship stipends to qualified students. The deadline to apply for funding was May 1. Certain experiences may not be funded due to travel restrictions and the university’s travel policy.

HOW DO I SEARCH FOR JOBS AND SUMMER INTERNSHIPS?

Even in these times, start by checking the resources on the Career Center’s website.  These listings can give you a good idea of the kinds of positions that are out there, now and in the future:

CAREERlink – job and internship listings for WashU students only

UCAN – a consortium of schools that have pooled national internship listings

Success Stories – a database of past WashU student internships. Great for networking with peers.

Glassdoor – national listings and industry info.

Idealist – global openings, primarily in the non-profit sector.

As with any search any time, think about who you know and how they might help facilitate connections to a creative, meaningful summer experience. If you need help doing this, make an appointment to speak with a career advisor, take a look at our networking handout, or look at advice from the Office of Undergraduate Research for finding a research mentor.

Nothing matters more than mindset.  Stay positive and agile during this time. Follow up with employers thoughtfully, express understanding over circumstances that may change, reiterate your interest in the position and find out what the next steps for the process may be.  If the employer closes the role, or puts the position on hold, continue with your search until you accept an offer.

INTERVIEWING: HOW DOES IT WORK NOW?

If you are living someplace with a shelter in place or similar governmental directive, you should not go to an in person interview.  If you are feeling well and your employer expects you in person, follow the tips offered in Interviewing in the Time of Coronavirus. If you are feeling ill, inform the employer and inquire as to whether there are alternatives to interviewing in person, such as interviewing virtually. Practicing social distancing is important to keep everyone healthy and safe. For general interviewing advice, click here.

For video interviewing, you need to be in a quiet environment and have a clean background. For long, multi-hour interviews, explore whether the interview can happen over 2-3 days, rather than one day. If this is not possible, ask for short breaks during the day. Review advice about video interviews and resources such as Big Interview,  The Ultimate Guide to Acing the Video Interview, and this video about looking good in Skype Interviews. You are also welcome to schedule a mock interview appointment with a career advisor.

CAREER EXPLORATION DURING TIMES OF UNCERTAINTY

Is it worth trying to do informational interviews during this time?

Yes, thoughtfully.  The Coronavirus has temporarily disrupted daily life, from school to work to basic social interactions. During this time, we encourage you to reach out to potential alumni connections, be patient and follow up. A conversation with you asking advice may be a much needed and positive break.  For advice, see our handout about Networking & Informational Interviews.  

I’m worried about my future.  How do I plan in the face of this uncertainty?

While we know dealing with uncertainty is part of life, moments like the current situation can bring up anxiety or worry about the present and the future. Consider focusing on the activities that will help you to feel prepared for your next steps. Continue researching different career paths, talking with alumni about their work, searching online for summer or new grad opportunities, revising your resume, doing some self-reflection, tailoring your cover letters, and practicing interviewing…all these activities can help you feel grounded and focused, and more prepared. For additional perspective read 5 Ways to Handle Uncertainty.  For resources and ideas about how to grow this summer, click here.

WHAT CAN I DO IF MY SUMMER PLANS FALL THROUGH?

There are many ways to design a creative and productive summer. For further ideas and resources related to the tips below, see What You Can Do in Summer 2020.

  • Offer to consult for a company that has a specific project need. What organizations do you know that do interesting work?  Maybe they could use a smart college or grad student to help them research or write a grant proposal.  Let a career advisor know if you would like assistance crafting an email approach. Parker Dewey and Gignow are two companies that can help you connect with “micro-internships” and project-based experience.  
  • Instead of interning for pay, you might opt for academic credit.  Different schools at WashU have different policies around this, but you may need to identify a WashU faculty sponsor. If necessary, your WashU faculty sponsor can help you to identify objectives/assessments that are tailored to your remote internship duties. See here for details about getting academic credit for internships and necessary procedures for your school.
  • Do informational interviews and shadow professionals who do work that interests you. 
  • Take an online course, undertake a personal project, or learn a new skill.
  • Prepare for future research by identifying your interests, reviewing existing work, reaching out to mentors and taking courses.

ARE COMPANIES RECRUITING AND HIRING?

At WashU, we’ve seen some internships convert to remote/virtual work while others are moving forward with a new start date.  Others, unfortunately, are cancelling their summer internships. Companies and organizations are still engaging with the Career Center to discuss their current and future recruiting plans.  In light of this uncertainty, we are encouraging all students to consider alternative options for growth during Summer 2020.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), polled employers and colleges during the month of April to gauge how they are adapting their plans and operations in response to the pandemic. Survey results reveal that just 4.4 percent of participating employers reported revoking their offers to the new college graduates they recruited prior to the pandemic for full-time positions to start following graduation. More than one-fifth (22 percent) indicated they are revoking their offers to interns for the summer. However, the more common response regarding internships is that employers are moving their programs to the virtual space for the summer or reducing the length of internships by delaying their start date.

Looking ahead to fall recruiting for the college Class of 2021, 16 percent of employers plan to decrease hiring from this year, with just 6 percent expecting to increase hiring. The majority—61 percent—plan to recruit the Class of 2021 at the same level they did for the Class of 2020.

WHAT SHOULD I KNOW, AS AN INTERNATIONAL STUDENT?

Work authorization rules and processing remain in effect. For any updates or information, please be sure to visit the OISS website for FAQS focusing on how the Coronavirus impacts international students, or reach out to OISS advisors for answers to your personal visa-related questions.