As the fall 2020 semester nears its end, graduating seniors must navigate how to enter the workforce even as the job market changes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As students graduate from college, one of the most prudent things to do is get a job — hopefully in the same field as their degree.
Data published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York says 41 percent of college graduates are working in fields they did not major in.
John Horowitz, chair of the Department of Economics, said this has to do with the volume of students entering the job market.
“There's a lot of people coming out, so you're competing with some really good people, which is always true, but especially now that in many areas there are not as many jobs,” Horowitz said.
Horowitz added that a “positive mental attitude” is important when searching for a job when rejections are received.
This increase in the number of employees and declines in opportunities is making it harder to find jobs, especially in the age of the COVID-19 pandemic, where the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that unemployment is at 8.4 percent and the pandemic is still taking its toll on the United States.
Horowitz said the industry students are going into makes a difference in their job prospects. Even students who will graduate in the future could face an alarming unemployment rate, though COVID-19 is predicted to subside sometime in 2021, according to the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Helping students and graduates deal with the job market is a task undertaken by the Career Center at Ball State and its associate director of employee relations and recruitment programming, Jeff Eads.
“I work directly with employers who would like to recruit Ball State students,” Eads said. “Sometimes, that is employers who are seeking us out and would like to recruit and engage with students in some way.”
The Career Center is responsible for a lot of employment interaction on campus, ranging from the career fairs that provide an opportunity to connect with possible employers, career coaches that provide guidance and the Cardinal Career Link, which provides resources to further employability.
Students can find employment opportunities there, but Eads said they can also filter their resumes through “VMock,” an artificial intelligence program that scores and provides feedback on the resumes filtered.
The program models what employers would use to simulate the experience of applying for jobs and internships.
“I think it's important for people to actually look at internships from the very beginning,” Horowitz said. “In fact, if you have an internship that you're going to need a security clearance for, you'd want to be looking, at the latest, probably as a freshman or a sophomore.”
Searching for an internship early is one of the things Horowitz said furthers employability, but he also emphasized how important it is to find a good one.
“You want an internship hopefully that teaches you something that makes you more productive in your future occupation, and you want an internship where you get to meet other people because one important way of getting hired is people vouching for you saying, ‘This is somebody who I would want on my team,’” he said.
Aside from Cardinal Career Link, the Career Center also is in charge of organizing career fairs.
Career fairs are opportunities for employers to engage with possible employers and make their pitch. However, they have recently been moved online. The next scheduled career fair at Ball State is in the spring Feb. 17, 2021, although its date is subject to change due to COVID-19.
The Career Center also provides career coaches for students to reference when thinking about changing their major, getting involved on campus or searching for internships. Eads said the goal of the Career Center’s resources is to provide students with guidance and help them find an edge in the competitive job market.
Cardinal Career Link is updated daily, Eads said, and students can filter their searches by location, employer or degree. Current students can search for and apply for internships or full-time jobs using Cardinal Career Link and turn on email notifications for new job posts.