While virtual learning has brought problems and drawn complaints, career events at the Walter Center for Career Achievement have benefited from Zoom sessions and events.
Career coaching appointments are up by 15% compared with the first quarter of 2020, when appointments were in person, said the center’s director Joe Lovejoy. He said students have benefited from the convenience of virtual coaching.
Almost all Walter Center events have been held as-planned this semester, Lovejoy said, only pivoting to an online setting. The center recently hosted the Fall Career + Internship Fair and Graduate School Fair virtually.
The center has been hosting the Liberal Arts Impact series this semester along with 17 departments in the College of Arts and Sciences. The series brings in department alumni to share their career path with students considering or pursuing the same degree as them.
Nick Huster, an IU class of 2011 alumnus who graduated with a Spanish degree and now works as the national programs assistant at the National Performance Network, was invited to the Spanish and Portuguese department’s LAI event but wouldn’t have been able to come to campus to attend had the event been in person.
Huster said he wanted to provide career mentorship as an alumnus, something he always wanted to have as a student. His greatest career advice to students during the event was to reach out and network early.
“Through my time at Indiana University, I was really hesitant to seek alumni networking and support,” he said. “And then after I graduated, I really wished I had taken advantage of the resources that a university like IU has.”
Aside from a wider reach to alumni, Lovejoy said the physical constraint of room capacity limitations no longer poses a problem in the LAI series, which is in its third semester. The event co-hosted by the Department of Political Science attracted 300 students in attendance, up from 175 in the previous semester.
Among the audience was Lora O’Toole, an IU senior majoring in international studies and Japanese. As she’s getting ready to graduate, she said it was interesting to find out what people studying the same thing as she have gone on to do.
O’Toole said she was very stressed about the job market, but hearing from the political science department’s alumni was calming.
“‘Taking one path, even if it’s not the career you want, might open a door.’ It was really nice to hear that,” she said. She said she also appreciated an alumna asking students to take care of themselves.
Looking at what the labor market holds for prospective IU graduates, Lovejoy said it’s too early to say whether finding jobs will be difficult because a lot of employers are still hiring full-time employees and interns despite the COVID-19 pandemic. However, he said the slowing economy means it is taking students longer to get the jobs they are looking for.
“The message to students is really the importance of making sure that you’re engaging with resources and planning early,” he said.