As the end of the quarter draws nearer, it’s that time again for the summer job search. As the pandemic continued, many businesses were forced to work remotely or in a limited capacity, which meant fewer open positions for students looking for jobs. As restrictions begin to life and businesses begin to open back up, this year is providing far more opportunities.
Even so, the job search is not much easier.
#Opentowork became a hashtag used among LinkedIn users as many college age students posted their interests and stories on the website in hopes of reaching employers. Over the past year students began to share their struggles of finding jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Junior cellular and molecular biology major Lizzie VanBrunt began looking for a job at the beginning of winter quarter. The process was anything but a breeze.
“I think I applied to 15 places and heard back from three in total, and only had two interviews total,” VanBrunt said. “Trying to manage that while doing school was really hard. Then to just not hear back from the majority of the places I applied to was very discouraging at first.”
Common summer jobs can be difficult to get because they’re often highly competitive. Because of that, junior business administration major Audrey Lauer took a unique approach in her job search.
“I started looking fall quarter for internships. I went on LinkedIn, did the usual routine, and I realized really quickly I didn’t want to do that,” Lauer said. “I wanted to do something different, so I pretty much went and found the businesses I wanted to work at and started emailing a few people just to get my name out there.”
Taking this new approach ended up working in Lauer’s favor. She landed a job at Canlis, making all the stress worth it.
While job searching can be stressful, the process is not always difficult. Senior theater and liberal arts major, Jenn Kirchner, found that often the right connections can be key to getting hired for jobs that others might not have otherwise known about.
“I am working at a summer camp that I’ve actually worked at a number of years in the past. [Getting the job] was fairly easy for me because I have done it before. This is my second year as a rancher, which is why they were like, ‘you’ve done this job before we know you’re good at it, we’ll just hire you back,’” Kirchner said. “It’s been a lot of being in the right place or knowing the right people.”
There are some things that students can keep in mind to help them with their job search. Lauer has found that perseverance is a necessary ingredient to a successful search.
“I have learned over time that if you want something, you just have to be persistent because a lot of the time people aren’t hired just because they gave up quickly or they’re discouraged. I definitely got to that point a few times,” Lauer said. “I kind of took on this mindset of, if I want something, it’s okay to be persistent, and that ended up being really fruitful for me.”
For VanBrunt, who was able to get an internship after many applications, finding the right tools also played an important part in eventually being able to land a job.
“Starting as early as you can, like giving yourself as much time as you can is going to be super helpful. And, utilize your resources,” VanBrunt said. “Most of my job searching was done on Handshake, and those were the ones that would actually get back to me. LinkedIn, that’s more targeted to a broader audience, whereas Handshake’s basically for college students.”
Practical tools like Handshake are helpful, especially when paired with other tools such as personal networks.
“Networking is just always a good idea. The more you talk to people about, ‘I do this and I am interested in doing this kind of thing,’ then people are interested in getting you connected and saying, ‘oh I know this person who also does that or, oh this person is talking about how they need someone to do that,’” Kirchner said. “So just talking to adults in your life, about what you’re passionate about or [about] needing a job in general can end up getting you a lot of places.”
Pathways such as friends, family, and advisors are ideal for building personal networks. Senior music education major, Sonja Gundersen, was able to receive the encouragement she needed from those closest to her.
“The things that were the most helpful were the connections that made me stand out in the process and advisors and friends who built up my confidence to apply,” Gundersen said.
Even though she had the confidence to retain any job, Gundersen knew exactly what she wanted in a future job.
“I knew I was qualified to teach anything instrumental or even general music at an elementary school, but wanted to stick with what I felt I would be most comfortable with,” Gundersen said. “I ended up applying to one position which contained instrumental and choir. I got an interview the next morning and a call the day after the interview saying I had received the job if I wanted it.”
The excitement of receiving a job offer is almost as exciting as starting the job. As the end of her college career comes to a close, she is ready to begin this new season of her life.
“I am still hesitant and fearful of if I will do well, but I am nonetheless excited to teach my students, encourage and support them!” Gundersen said.