The Center for Career Opportunities has adapted many of its services to be used virtually, though one employee said some virtual sessions are sparsely attended.
The CCO offers resources to build resumes, prepare for interviews, network with employers and find opportunities. Located in Young Hall, it houses a plethora of staff, resources and services to help students with career planning.
There are also services that are especially relevant now in the pandemic, said Carolyn Ersland, the senior career services consultant of the CCO.
Rooms in Young Hall are offered for reservations to give students a place to hold virtual interviews in quiet spaces, some of which are equipped with technology like sound equipment and cameras.
Ersland stressed that simple and quick appointments are also more relevant than ever when the pandemic makes communication difficult.
“Sometimes, virtual information sessions are not very well attended,” said Stephen Roach, Career Services Consultant. “There’s a lot going on in a student’s life, we totally get that. Students may not have a lot of time, but when students do take the time to attend things, there’s a chance they could be one of a small number of students. That’s a real opportunity to have a one-on-one conversation with an employer.”
Hallmarks of the CCO services, like resume help, are still being offered virtually. For interviews, a website called “Big Interview” offers a free account with access to a database with around 1,200 practice questions for interviews. Different Purdue departments tailor this service to suit their students.
Along with the change in services, communication within the CCO has changed for both students and employers. As many have seen in the past few months, it is hard and likely frustrating to communicate, but students should know they are not alone, Ersland said.
“It is important for students to be aware that as challenging as it has been for you all, the employers are also trying to pivot with all these new platforms,” she said.
One employer reported using upward of 15 or 20 platforms recruiting students as their recruitment team is on five campuses, Ersland said.
“Basically, he was trying to say give us all a lot of grace and patience,” she said.
The solution for communication problems is simply more communication, Ersland said.
“When it comes to interviewing, employers know as well as we do that students need support,” she said, “but sometimes you just need to communicate to them that the communication is not working, and ask how can I better connect with you.”
She added that these platforms have the potential to be helpful for students because they can be accessed any place any time.
The Career Closet, which provides free business attire to students for interviews, is closed for the semester because of the high contact exchanging clothing entails. But most resources have been overhauled to be compatible with Protect Purdue rules.
Drop-in meetings have become same-day “Quick Chats” scheduled through BoilerConnect. These chats are available both in person with limited capacity from 1-4 p.m. Monday through Friday, as well as virtually. Career fairs and other events have become virtual as well, the schedule of events is available on the CCO’s website.
The hub for the center’s services is the student MyCCO account, according to Roach.
He said MyCCO has 2,547 individual opportunities available. There, students can see interview opportunities for internships and full-time positions and apply directly through MyCCO.
“This is the peak time that students start asking ‘Am I in the right major, am I doing what I want to do, where am I going,’” Ersland said. “There aren’t cookie-cutter steps for career planning, it’s more like these three steps, and then this sidestep, and maybe this other dance over here, and maybe a roundabout turn ... We talk about giant leaps here, but it’s really just about that small step.”
The CCO is still readily available to assist students in achieving goals, Ersland said.
While he said it is easy to lose sight of those goals right now, Roach stressed the importance of continuing to look toward end goals.
“While the world may feel paused, and we’re all just waiting to see what’s going to happen ... there are people who aren’t necessarily waiting,” he said. “There are people going out there and driving change. People, even right now, are in a position to partake in that. It doesn’t matter if you’re here on campus, or if you are virtual or international. There are still virtual career fairs. It is about taking the chance and the opportunity while you have it, to make that change for your future and develop your potential.”
To contact the CCO students can call the number on its website, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.