Career Development Center Adapts to Support Students, 2020 Seniors

December 15, 2020

By Bridget (Martin) Lazzara ’11

The Career Development Center has a long history of helping students prepare for professional life. When the coronavirus closed campus and raised uncertainties about the job market last spring, the CDC quickly adapted to continue offering support to students – especially the Class of 2020.

As the economic impacts of the pandemic reverberated throughout the country, CDC staff witnessed an initial downturn in employment trends. There was a decrease in jobs and internships posted to Handshake, the College’s career management system, and many student internships were halted mid-semester due to health and safety concerns.

Jason Wood ’20, an accounting and finance major, experienced this firsthand when his internship at an accounting firm ended abruptly in March. Wood also began to worry about how the pandemic would affect his post-graduate plans. He had accepted a position in February and intended to relocate to Florida for the job.

“As companies started laying off and furloughing staff, we recognized that Covid could potentially be devastating to the labor market and that many graduating seniors’ employment plans were being disrupted,” said Kimberly DelGizzo, Executive Director of the CDC.

Hoping to ease the Class of 2020’s anxieties, CDC staff personally called all 483 members of the senior class. They congratulated students on graduating, checked in on their wellbeing, inquired about post-grad plans, and emphasized that CDC’s resources remained available to them.

Although many expressed disappointment about their senior year ending abruptly and uncertainty about employment, “the overwhelming majority also expressed gratitude for the support,” says DelGizzo. The Class of 2020’s resiliency was also tangible to CDC staff.

“At first, simply staying safe and adapting to life with learning and working remotely became more of a priority than finding a job,” explains Matthew Raymond ’20. However, when Raymond was ready to job search, he drew on experience from his academic internship at the Office of Admissions during his final semester.

As a marketing major, Raymond’s internship was overseen by the CDC and transitioned online when campus closed. “The course had a major focus on career planning and we spent each week completing assignments that readied me for the job search,” he says. Raymond was recently hired as an Admissions Counselor at the college. “I am incredibly proud to be able to work for my alma mater, and I feel strongly that my experience learning from the CDC staff helped me get to this point.”

Larissa Charitable ’20 also took advantage of CDC’s support. “Once campus closed and everything was done virtually, I started working with [CDC staff] to apply for different jobs and prepare for them through mock interviews,” Charitable, a criminal justice major, explains. Although the pandemic delayed her job search by a few months, when Charitable began applying in the summer, “the CDC was there to help with my resume and answer any questions I had throughout the process.” This preparation helped her secure a job as an Information and Referral Specialist at Action for Boston Community Development, Inc.

Wood’s internship experience was also instrumental in helping him weather the unforeseen changes caused by the pandemic. Although his relocation plans are on hold, his job offer was adapted to a remote position, and he currently works as a Payroll Tax Analyst for Verizon. “The experience taught me that even if we encounter adversity, we can use the experience as a building block for our next opportunity,” he explains.

In addition to having two internships as an undergrad, Wood tapped the CDC for resume and cover letter assistance throughout his college career and used Handshake to research employment opportunities. “I can’t stress enough the importance of internships,” says Wood. “Even if they don’t lead to job offers, the ability to learn outside the classroom will help you in any future job you have.”

The experiences of Wood, Raymond, and Charitable reflect broader labor market trends. After the initial dip in employer postings last spring, the CDC noted more postings on Handshake during the past fall semester than in the previous year. While some industries have faltered during the pandemic, others – like healthcare, software, and education – are expanding and eager to hire young talent.

The CDC has also expanded to support recent grads and current students. “At Home” is a virtual program focusing on how students can remain marketable to future employers from a remote capacity. “Career Chat Live,” a virtual event series, features guest speakers from employer partners who explain how their organizations are adapting and offer advice to students. This winter, CDC will introduce “Jumpstart: College to Career,” an online pilot program that will help students become career-ready through resume preparation, cover letter writing, virtual interview skills, and networking. Many of CDC’s virtual resources are recorded and posted on Handshake.

CDC also partners with professors to reach students in specific programs. Staff regularly present to classrooms through Zoom and collaborate with faculty on special events, including “What Can I Do With My Liberal Arts Major?,” an event co-sponsored by the Humanities Institute.

DelGizzo encourages students to start exploring how they want to use their degree early in their college career. “We are here for students of all years to help them make informed decisions about their future so that when they enter the labor market, they have a job that is a good fit for them,” she says.