Navigating a changing job market: Miami’s career center offers advice, support to graduates

Explore more with CCES

  • Weekly virtual career programs
  • Full-length webinars
  • Instagram Live sessions
  • Student Spotlights
  • Employer-hosted events

By Shavon Anderson, university communications and marketing

With graduation dates approaching for students, Miami University staff are working to ease fears and guide graduates who are preparing to enter an unknown job market. Jennifer Benz, assistant vice president of Miami’s Career Center for Exploration and Success (CCES), discusses how the current situation is affecting students, parents and employers and how Miami is helping.

How has your office restructured amid the pandemic, and what does this mean for students? 

Jennifer Benz, assistant vice president of Miami's Career Center for Exploration and Success.

As soon as Miami shifted to remote instruction, the Career Center for Exploration and Success (CCES) promoted its virtual classroom presentation service to faculty partners letting them know that staff are ready, willing and able to deliver live and recorded sessions on any career topic. To date, CCES has conducted more than 20 classroom presentations.  

With the help of the office of parent and family programs, CCES enacted the “Parents as Career Partners” initiative. The YouTube webinar explains how parents can support students and asks parents to share job and internship openings. CCES is also working with Miami’s alumni office to ask alums to post openings with us.

Staff continue to offer mock interviews, on-demand and scheduled 1:1 advising sessions for all students, and weekly virtual drops-ins for graduate students.

What are students’ main concerns right now regarding prospective job and internship opportunities? 

Students with a job or internship lined up are either concerned about whether it will “hold,” or they’re concerned for peers who have nothing secured. Graduating students without a first destination are wondering when they can secure one in light of the changing job market. Students who aren’t graduating yet (and were hoping to secure their first or another internship) are worried about long-term job prospects.  

CCES recently purchased vFairs, virtual career fair technology. Staff are engaging employers in marketing messages and programs, and the center plans to host at least two virtual career fair events, including the Virtual Teacher Job Fair (April 29) and the Just in Time Career Fair for graduating seniors and graduate students (May 6).

CCES converted upcoming summer career treks and job shadow programs to virtual events and created an Opportunities with Employers webpage designed to show students a real-time list of organizations that are actively recruiting.

What messaging from employers have you received, if any?

In most cases, our employers are telling us that this is an evolving situation. Some, but not all, organizations are hiring, and others have canceled offers because they’re no longer open or operational. Some organizations are continuing with offers they’ve made to students but aren’t moving forward until they determine long-term needs.  

A few organizations are comfortable hiring based on video interviews. Those organizations who are honoring offers to future interns and full-time, recent grads are converting the onboarding activities to online and are preparing to start employees with remote work. 

We have a committed employer relations team that is actively connecting with our employer base. CCES is the only career center, that we know of, that has already held a Virtual Town Hall designed to help employers, recruiters and organizations understand how they can continue to recruit our students remotely.  

Moving forward, CCES continues to monitor employer behavior. How will this pandemic affect the future landscape of career services? Will recruiters be ready to recruit on campus by way of large career fairs, interviewing and group information sessions as they were prior to COVID-19? CCES is monitoring these preferences, and we’re creating multiple strategies in preparation to meet needs.  

How can students best utilize downtime while this crisis evolves?

Students who do their research will fare better. I have a lot of faith in our students’ ability to demonstrate their liberal arts education. In this job market especially, flexibility, adaptability and good communication skills are key, and Miami students do well in these areas.

CCES advises students to update their professional profiles and determine what new skills they can learn remotely. There are online training sessions available, like LinkedIn Learning. It’s all about how students can show a future employer that they were proactive during this time. 

One tool that students can use via CCES is VMOCK. Students upload their resume to this resource for free and receive scores on impact, presentation and competencies. Students are given advice in these areas and are encouraged to resubmit for a better score. So far, VMOCK use has increased by 26%.

Volunteering is another great way to show involvement and growth. With the high number of people currently in need, service to others is a worthwhile endeavor.