Congratulations, Class of 2020! You did it. You graduated and now you’re ready to pursue your next goal, and for many of you, that includes finding a job, advancing to a new position at your current place of employment, or seeking a career change altogether. It’s an exciting time that under normal circumstances can create a bit of anxiety. This year, however, your post-college future looks a little different thanks to COVID-19.
Despite this continuing challenge the pandemic presents, your tenacity will help you overcome the hurdles, much like when you balanced your education, work, family, and life while pursuing your degree. Still, having a helping hand will go a long way during these unique times.
Here’s how Career Services can help you prepare for the next phase in your journey, and what you can do to secure your future and maintain positive momentum as you seek new opportunities.
Career Moves to Make Right Now
It’s understandable that as a student you were consumed by pursuing your degree and had little time to focus on anything other than school, work, or family. Now that you have completed your degree program (or are close to doing so), it’s time to take advantage of any gaps in your schedule – 20 minutes, here or there – and take proactive steps to prepare for life after graduation. Here are some career moves to make right now:
1. Update Your Resume
You earned your degree, so make sure you add that accomplishment to your resume and your LinkedIn profile right away. While you’re at it, take a little time to freshen up your LinkedIn profile, and reach out to Career Services if you need some assistance with that task.
2. Optimize Your Resume
If it’s been a while since you’ve been in the job market, one of the first things that you’ll notice is less face-to-face (or even Zoom-to-Zoom) contact with recruiters. Many of today’s hiring efforts are funneled through Applicant Tracking Systems, which scan your resume for keywords to match job descriptions and duties. You can outsmart these “resume robots” by optimizing your resume with keywords and phrases that Applicant Tracking Systems will flag before sending your resume to a recruiter.
3. Take Stock of Your Skills
Graduates with an online degree, especially, can leave school knowing they possess many of the skills – adaptability, flexibility, tech savviness, critical thinking, among others – needed to succeed in a post-coronavirus world. The fact that you were able to complete a college degree by utilizing online tools is worthy of mention and should give you added confidence when applying for your next job.
“Online students already come to the table with experience and success in remote working and using programs such as Canvas, Zoom, and others,” explains the University of Arizona Global Campus Director of Career Services and Alumni Relations Grace Williamson. “Their work is self-guided, they are self-sufficient, and they know how to meet deadlines. These are just a few of the core skills and competencies that they can show employers as they transition from online learning to online working.”
4. Start Networking
If you’ve spent your college years in a virtual classroom setting, you’re already adept at online etiquette. This should make it easier for you to begin networking virtually with your contacts, industry colleagues, and potential employers.
Many graduates are looking to make contacts through the platform, and Williamson suggests starting with those closest to you – classmates and alumni. Global Campus boasts a 17,000-member strong LinkedIn group that is overseen by Career Services and connects current students to alumni in all professions.
How Career Services Can Help
Even before the pandemic upended the job market, Williamson and her team began developing new resources for future generations of Global Campus graduates. Taking advantage of every resource at your disposal will give you the best chance to succeed in a competitive job market. Career Services offers lifelong support to all alumni, and you can reach out at any stage of your career after graduation. In the meantime, here are some of the options to get you on track.
1. Career Pathways
As a Global Campus student, you had the opportunity to set up your “My Career” account through the Student Portal. However, if you did not take this step, you can still activate your account to take advantage of all the resources that Career Services has to offer. If you set up self-guided career pathways — accessible via the “My Career” platform — they allowed you to develop a custom career plan based on your degree program. Your pathways were designed to enhance your skill development and increase your knowledge of professional certifications and organizations. Individualized resources include preparation checklists, niche job boards, and industry-specific websites, so take advantage of these now that you’ve honed your skills and earned your degree. Even if you did not use career pathways during your degree program, you can activate it after graduation to access all of the pathway resources available.
2. Video Mock Interviews
With job interviews likely to take place via video conference for the foreseeable future, today’s graduates must be able to make the case for themselves in a virtual setting. Global Campus graduates using the “My Career” platform can take advantage of video mock interviews that allow them to practice and perfect their interview skills.
“Mock interviews allow you to practice independently, which is great for working parents and professionals who might not have free time until later in the day or night,” Williamson explains. “Once you’ve completed a mock interview, you can send the link to a trusted colleague for feedback or work with a career advisor to assess your performance.”
3. Virtual Career Fairs
Ashford University* hosted two career fairs in 2020 and more may be coming in the near future. Our events allow all students and alumni to connect online with top employers, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations from a number of industries.
In a virtual career fair, you are able to upload your resume and connect with companies in a personal chat room. Employers taking part will be able to post an unlimited number of jobs, and many may want to conduct one-on-one interviews on the spot – another reason to prepare with video mock interviews and practice your pitch in advance.
Make sure you follow us on Facebook to learn about upcoming events.
4. UAGC Connect powered by PeopleGrove
Available exclusively to Global Campus alumni, UAGC Connect powered by PeopleGrove is a one-stop resource that includes, among other benefits:
- Lifetime career coaching
- Networking opportunities
- Online communities
- Exclusive discounts
- Career tips and workplace trends
Additionally, Global Campus is part of a nationwide network of colleges leading the way in career development and addressing workplace barriers through Bridges Alliance.
“This is a great way for alumni to meet mentors and showcase the knowledge they’ve acquired by putting it into practice,” Williamson says. “They can do project-based work to demonstrate their skills and create portfolios to share with employers.”
Career Services also offers assistance to supercharge your job search in a number of other ways, including help with:
- Opt-In Resume Books
- Work-from-Home Guidance
- Identifying Remote Employers
- Free Training Resources
- Cover Letter Writing
- Military-to-Career Transitions
Facing the Future with Confidence
Though the road ahead is riddled with obstacles, especially during a pandemic, there is opportunity in every challenge or setback.
By remaining focused on your priorities and taking advantage of the lifelong resources provided by Career Services, you will find it easier to navigate any uncertainty that lies ahead. For assistance with your resume or job search, contact Career Services.
*Ashford University is now the University of Arizona Global Campus.