FAQs: How the Career Center Can Help You in Fall 2020

The pandemic has presented us with special circumstances, but we are here to support you. Please take a look at the frequently asked questions below. If these don’t answer your questions, email us at careers@wustl.edu. We also invite you to see our advice and resources designed specifically for our current situation, What You Can Do in Fall 2020.

IS THE CAREER CENTER OPEN?

YES. Following guidelines from our University leadership  as well as the CDC, we are unable to meet in-person at this time. However, we are available for email, phone, and video advising, as well as online programming. Please use our online scheduling tool to find an advisor who is a good fit for your interests and availability. We also recommend that you keep up to date with our upcoming events page and utilize CAREERlink to search for internships and full-time opportunities and RSVP for events.

WHAT IF I HAVE A QUICK QUESTION?

Hop on our Live Chat feature for quick questions and document reviews each weekday. This is a good way to get feedback on your resume, cover letter, personal statement or email communications. It is also a good resource for getting help with navigating CAREERlink or extremely time sensitive questions related to job offers and negotiations.

This option is best for quick questions – things that can be answered in a few minutes or are time sensitive. For questions related to your interests, search, networking, interviewing or other skills, you will get the most out of a scheduled advising appointment with less of a time restriction. Please use our online scheduling tool to find an advisor who is a good fit for your interests and availability.

HOW SHOULD I EXPLORE MY CAREER OPTIONS DURING THIS TIME OF UNCERTAINTY?

While we all 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… these activities can help you feel grounded and focused, and more prepared. For additional perspective read 5 Ways to Handle Uncertainty. For support, schedule a time to talk with a career advisor.

ARE EMPLOYERS HIRING?

According to NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers), the majority of employers—61 percent—plan to recruit the Class of 2021 at the same level they did for the Class of 2020. Our employer and alumni communities remain highly engaged and eager to connect with students. Our employer relations team is closely monitoring employment trends and opportunities for students. While we have seen major shifts and impact in some industries, many organizations are adapting and innovating, creating opportunities for interns and recent graduates.

The best way to learn about new postings is to use CAREERlink. See more of our recommended search strategies and resources on our What You Can Do in Fall 2020 site. For insights and updates about specific industries, join a Career Interest Group or schedule an advising appointment.

WILL THERE BE A FALL CAREER FAIR?

YES. We are planning a number of virtual networking events and career fairs. Employers are eager to connect with you! Details are still being hammered out, but we will update you through our email newsletters, our Career Fair page and CAREERlink. In the meantime, save these dates:

September 29th McKelvey Engineering Virtual Career Spotlight, 3-6pm CST

October 1 – Virtual Career Fair, 3-6 pm CST
Focus Areas: Aerospace, Biotech, Consulting, Consumer Goods, Finance, Manufacturing, Pharma, Tech, Finance and Banking, Healthcare

October 8 – Virtual Career Fair, 3-6 pm CST
Focus Areas: Education, Non-Profit, Government, Advocacy, Social Justice

October 29 – Multi-School Career Fair, 12-3 pm CST
Hosts: WashU, Yale, American University, Binghamton, Columbia, Florida State, George Washington, Northwestern, Seattle University, University of Texas, Tulane, Vanderbilt, William & Mary, University of Georgia, Loyola Marymount

HOW DOES A VIRTUAL CAREER FAIR WORK?

Virtual recruiting events are new to many of us, including many recruiters. In order to make sure you feel prepared, we are pulling together resources – including tips, videos and prep workshops – and, once ready, they will be available on our Internships & Jobs Career Fair web page.

WHAT KINDS OF EMPLOYERS WILL BE AT THE VIRTUAL FAIRS?

Once employers are confirmed for our virtual events, you’ll be able to see the list on CAREERlink or our Career Fair page. Recruiting cycles and methods are industry driven. To effectively plan your internship or full-time job search, it is important to know when industries tend to post positions. Read our information about recruiting cycles by industry to get a better sense of how and when various industries tend to post, recruit and hire.

Regardless of the industries that interest you, or the likelihood of campus recruiting through virtual fairs or postings, the Career Center is dedicated to helping you build your target list, interact with employers, network with alumni, and learn how to successfully navigate the search and application process. For help with your process, join a Career Interest Group or schedule an advising appointment.

HOW ELSE CAN I CONNECT WITH EMPLOYERS?

Great question! It is vital that you engage in intentional conversations with employers to learn about and share interest in their work. We can help facilitate these connections in a variety of ways:

HOW DO I SEARCH FOR JOBS AND INTERNSHIPS?

CAREERlink is an excellent resource for position postings. It is smart to become very familiar with the site, set up saved searches, and stay up to date on information sessions and events. In addition, we list a number of resources for searching on our What You Can Do in Fall 2020 page, under the Search for Opportunities heading.

As with any search at any time, think about who you know and how they might help facilitate connections to creative, meaningful work experiences. 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. 

INTERVIEWING: HOW DOES IT WORK NOW?

Your interviews will most likely take place over the phone or over video. It is unlikely that you will be expected to meet in person. If you are asked to meet in person, it is appropriate and acceptable to request an alternative format as a means to keeping everyone healthy and safe. However, if and when you deem conditions okay to meet in person, it is wise to wear a mask and follow the tips offered in Interviewing in the Time of Coronavirus.

No matter the format of your interview, prepare using our interviewing advice. For video interviews, see our tips for online interviews. You do not need to have a fancy background or fabulous décor but it’s a good idea to dress professionally and make sure you have a quiet, tidy space. 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 practice with 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.

CAN I USE THE CAREER CENTER IF I TAKE A LEAVE OF ABSENCE THIS SEMESTER?

Current WashU students (Class of 2021, 2022, and 2023) who choose to take a Leave of Absence during Fall 2020 will continue to have full access to all Career Center resources. Incoming WashU students (Class of 2024) who choose to take a Gap Year experience will be extended full access to all Career Center resources when they matriculate to the University.

If you take a Leave of Absence and wish to participate in recruitment or career education experiences through CAREERlink, you will need to meet virtually with an advisor. This meeting will provide an opportunity to develop a personalized and on-going strategy for continued career education throughout the Fall 2020 semester. Please use our online scheduling tool to find an advisor who is a good fit for your interests and availability. For the full Fall 2020 Leave of Absence Guidelines for both WashU Career Center and Weston Career Center, see our website under News & Announcements.

WHAT CAN I DO IF I CHOOSE TO TAKE A LEAVE OF ABSENCE THIS FALL? OR IF I AM TAKING CLASSES BUT WANT TO FURTHER MY PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT?

This can be a time to gain experience, take an online course, learn new skills, or undertake a personal project.

For further ideas and resources related to the ideas below, see What You Can Do in Fall 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, Gignow and Upwork are 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. It is also possible to earn academic credit for short-term projects; the College of Arts & Sciences calls these Practical Applications.
  • 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.

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 Office of International Students and Scholars 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.

THE PANDEMIC IS MAKING ME FEEL LESS CONFIDENT ABOUT WHAT I HAVE TO OFFER AND MY READINESS FOR LIFE AFTER GRADUATION. WHAT SHOULD I DO?

Employers seek core competencies that you are likely gaining as an engaged WashU student. You enhance your competencies with your coursework, activities, service, leadership, hobbies and other experiences. Competencies include things like strategic thinking, curiosity and creativity, communication, intercultural fluency, collaboration, leadership and service, and professionalism. Chances are that you have excellent skills and experience to draw from. Focus on your strengths, and brainstorm with a career advisor or trusted mentor to consider where you can gain the skills and experience that will be an asset in your chosen field.