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NewsJun 16, 2020

Career Resource Center guides new graduates through uncertain job market

Class of 2020 ‘resilient and optimistic’

Graphic that looks like a neon sign: Senior Design Showcase 2020
Above: A graphic created by graphic design major Caitlyn Miracle ’20 for the virtual Senior Design Showcase.

Our Career Resource Center, always a key service available to recent graduates, current students and alumni, has been indispensable to the Lesley community during a time when the only thing certain about the job market is that it’s full of uncertainty.

“They want a combination of information and inspiration. As career coaches, we are providing both,” says Alice Diamond, associate dean for Career and Community Service. “My staff and I are checking in with students and alumni through career coaching appointments on how they’re doing during this difficult time before we jump into the job search.”

Our career coaching staff, which includes Alison Angell, senior associate director, and Jessica Courtney, associate director, have been meeting with students and alumni through Zoom since the pandemic began.

Those check-ins have been a big help for Adam Holt ’20, who received his master’s degree in counseling and psychology this spring. Holt, who works in an administrative role at Boston Medical Center, had his resume ready, but stalled when it came to penning a cover letter.

“It’s hard to imagine starting in quarantine, going through orientation and meeting potential new clients in quarantine,” he says. “(Alice) helped me give myself the break about feeling bizarre during this time.”

The news isn’t all bad

“Yes, it’s hard to find a job, and we’ve had people getting job offers,” Diamond says. “It’s a nuanced, complex situation.”

With on-campus career fairs canceled this spring, Diamond and her team created three virtual events that connected soon-to-be-graduates with 119 employers via Know.Careers, a job fair app, and, a conference platform. Alumni and current students have access to Handshake, an online career platform, continues to feature new postings daily. The Career Resource Center also ran three virtual job search sessions for recent alumni.

“Some employers are on hold, but when we surveyed our employers before setting up virtual career fairs, the majority said they’re reviewing resumes, scheduling phone or video interviews and/or making job offers,” says Diamond. “Depending on the industry, employers don’t want to just grind everything to a halt right now.”

In fact, she said human services, such as counseling and psychology — fields many of our graduates have trained for — are still in demand.

“We’re trying to hire as many people as possible as our services are needed more each day,” one employer told Diamond.

Diamond says that employers have expressed interest in a variety of candidates, from animators and creative writers to designers and nonprofit workers.

School districts continue to review applications, she says, noting, “While there’s a lot of uncertainty…there will be school in the fall.”

“I think that having Lesley on my resume is really big. That’s something that a lot of the interviewers say in their first breath during the interview.
Jenna Glazier ’20, Master's in Special Education

Jenna Glazier (BA ’18, MEd ’20), who recently received an offer for a special education teaching position, has had 20 first and second round interviews in recent months.

“I think that having Lesley on my resume is really big,” she says. “That’s something that a lot of the interviewers say in their first breath during the interview.”

Prospective employers have reached out via the Know.Careers app. She says the Career Resource Center and Diamond have helped her often throughout her job search, reaching out before the virtual career fair and following up afterward.

Glazier said of Diamond, “She’s like our biggest fan.”

Getting job-ready

When career counselors meet with jobseekers, they first determine what each person wants to prioritize — from those who need a job fast due to a financial emergency to those looking to change careers.

Career coaches walk candidates through career-assessment tools for those uncertain about what kind of work they want to do. They provide help for building a resume and critique cover letters as well as conduct mock job interviews.

They also advise job candidates on how to prepare for the brave new world of virtual interviews. Diamond stresses having a handle on the things you can control — choosing a place to sit with good lighting and a simple background — and being as prepared as possible for the things you can’t control, such as having the interviewer’s phone number in case your wi-fi goes haywire.

Screen image of two people having a conversation with an app in the background
Career coach Alison Angell and recent graduate Piper Galyean ’20 have a conversation virtually during spring semester.

Being proactive during this time is crucial.

“I actually have been happily surprised by how engaged current students and recent graduates are,” Diamond says, whose coaching schedule has been full for weeks. “I think most of our candidates are trying to do everything they can to position themselves so when the economy improves, they’ll be ready.”

Some recent alumni are opting to go to graduate school instead of entering the job market or are working on other professional certificates and credentials.

Diamond also recommends investigating careers by connecting with professionals.

“This is a great time to network through LinkedIn and other tools,” Diamond says. With so many professionals working from home, people who might usually be unreachable suddenly have more time to connect, and many are happy to be of service. Alumni are particularly good resources, and Diamond often helps more experienced alumni connect with recent graduates.

Perspective and plans

Ultimately, this isn’t a normal job market, Diamond reminds candidates.

For those who are worried about gaps in their resumes and employment, Diamond says, “I think employers are going to be really understanding of that.”

During this time, it’s important to think of all options.

“We’re working with students and alumni to figure out Plan A, Plan B, Plan C. Is there contract work, remote work, temporary work? We’re just trying to be as creative as we can be,” says Diamond.

After speaking with dozens of people from the Class of 2020, she feels good about their prospects.

“This class is amazingly resilient and optimistic,” she said. “Recent graduates realize there’s a lot of uncertainty and they want to be as proactive as they can be.”