At a time when cancellations, closures, and slowdowns are becoming the norm, the Boston College Career Center is doing just the opposite.

In collaboration with the University’s Alumni Association and departments across campus, the Center has been rolling out new programs and keeping its virtual lights on longer than ever before, helping the Class of 2020, as well as students and other young alumni, navigate an uncertain job market wrought by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Instead of meeting face-to-face, career coaches are scheduling virtual sessions with students to discuss their interests and career goals. And while the Center’s physical doors are closed, it’s holding daily drop-in hours online for job-seekers looking for quick feedback on a resume or cover letter. 

“A lot of students have asked, will they have access to our resources? Can they attend our events and use our services?” said Joseph Du Pont, associate vice president for Career Services. “And the answer is ‘yes,’ a resounding ‘yes,’ of course you can and those resources are richer than ever.”

Under normal circumstances, Du Pont and his team would have cause for celebration. The results of a survey sent to the Class of 2019 found that ninety-five percent were employed, attending graduate school, or engaged in a fellowship or volunteer opportunity within six months of graduating. For the fifth straight year, 73 percent of BC graduates entered the workforce, joining respected organizations across a broad range of industries.

The survey, which was sent to graduates between April and December of last year, provided a pre-pandemic snapshot of how a BC liberal arts education can help prepare students for fulfilling careers. Despite the current circumstances, Du Pont and others are determined to ensure that remains the case. 

“These are challenging times, but we don't want students or our 2020 graduates to give up on their dreams,” said Career Education & Strategy Director Rachel Greenberg. “We want them to continue to really think about the big questions they're asked throughout their BC education: What are you good at? What do you enjoy? Who does the world need you to be? These are still really important questions and they should not be shoved aside.”  

For students whose internships or part-time jobs have been lost to coronavirus, the Career Center is offering a host of resources, including a self-guided Praxis Summer Program designed to help them recognize and develop their professional skills. More than 500 students have already registered for the free program, which includes modules on leveraging technology, effective leadership, and working across cultures. 

Each week of Praxis (there are eight in total) is centered around a skill area that would normally be strengthened through on-the-ground experience. In Week 5, for example, students learn about teamwork and collaboration by completing a conflict style assessment, creating a “How to Work With Me” user manual, and collaborating with another Praxis student on a research assignment. 

“We don’t want our students to lose a summer of career exploration and skill building,” explained Greenberg. “Praxis provides them with something concrete that they can be doing with their time to develop these skills and boost their resumes.”

A lot of students have asked, will they have access to our resources? Can they attend our events and use our services? And the answer is ‘yes,’ a resounding ‘yes,’ of course you can and those resources are richer than ever.
Joseph Du Pont, Associate Vice President for Career Services

For non-management students looking to add a grounding in business to their portfolio, the Carroll School of Management has switched its summer Catalyst Program to a fully online format. Participants will take three full courses and a career practicum that covers a wide range of business management topics, including accounting, finance, marketing, ethics, and law.

Students and recent graduates can also seek advice from the University’s vast alumni network through EagleExchange, an online community with more than 9,200 members. 

“Many of our alumni have been through economic downturns before and can offer support and guidance to students wondering how this will affect their future careers,” said Colleen Cimoch Smith, a project manager in University Advancement. “These conversations can also lead to mentorships or job shadow opportunities down the road.”

Members of the Class of 2020 who are still job searching can expect personalized outreach from Du Pont and his team, who work regularly with Eagles who have graduated in the past five years. By visiting the Career Center website, they’ll be able to learn about upcoming virtual career fairs, brush up on their virtual interview skills, and tune in to the Career Center’s “Ask an Alum” video series. 

“A message we're trying to make sure the seniors hear loud and clear is that they're not cut off after graduation,” said Greenberg. “We hope the Class of 2020 will continue to access our resources and services in the months and years ahead.”

For those who have lost jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic, Du Pont urged optimism, as well as patience. 

“There are students getting jobs now. There are students doing interviews now who are going to be employed,” he said. “It's harder now, but you shouldn't give up. We are here to help at every stage of the process.”

Alix Hackett | University Communications | May 2020