As U Students Prepare to Enter Workforce During COVID-19, U Provides Resources


The Daily Utah Chronicle

By Kyla Yetter



While COVID-19 has increased job opportunities in some industries such as K-12 education and healthcare, for the most part, it has been detrimental to the job market. Students at the University of Utah, such as sophomore Abbie Hurst, recognize this problem and she admitted she was nervous about the process of entering the workforce at this time.

“Lots of companies are losing a lot of money right now and so they’re having to fire people, or let them go. And they can’t afford to hire new people,” Hurst said.

One resource available to students through the U is the Career and Professional Development Center. This Center is committed to helping students along their personal career paths and offers many services to assist in this goal.

The Career and Professional Development Center’s website provides students a COVID-19 update with a link to virtual support. The virtual support offered includes an “online chat” with a Career Ambassador, available Monday through Friday from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Students with general questions about jobs or resources available to them can utilize this online chat for a quick response.

For more in-depth questions and help, students can sign up for a career coaching appointment. Trained coaches talk to students about their interests and help them figure out their next steps, whether they are just getting started, making progress, or finishing up their search.

The website also offers a list of 500 companies that are currently hiring.

Another resource for students is Handshake. The Career and Professional Development center organizes events such as career fairs for students and works closely with Handshake to list these events and provide a place for students to register. All students at the U automatically get an account, so to view opportunities, they just need to log in.

Additionally, there is an upcoming  Career and Internship Fair that will take place from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on Sept. 29. Students interested in this opportunity can attend larger, lecture-type meetings with companies, or schedule one-on-one talks with potential employers.

When asked about this Career Fair, Associate Director of Employer Engagement, Preston Nielson commented on one of the positives of the virtual nature of the event.

“One thing that I really like about the virtual format is that a student can do that fairly anonymously. They can sign up for a bunch of group sessions, which effectively end up being info sessions, they don’t have to have their camera on or participate in the content. They can just go in and be a fly on the wall,” Nielsen said.

Nielson said a slightly negative effect of the virtual format is the need for students to register for the meetings.

“One of my concerns with moving everything to virtual is that I feel like in a virtual world people have to be a lot more proactive to engage,” he said. 

In Nielson’s words, “you’re not going to just stumble across the fair,” people must be actively looking.

But as far as events and opportunities for students go, the Career and Professional Development Center is doing all they can to ensure that students and employers have the support they need even amidst COVID-19. 

“There isn’t a single thing that we did at this time last year that we don’t do now,” Nielson said.

Nielsen said this is a really pivotal moment for students to be thinking about “what their interests are, where their skills lay, and how that translates to the current environment.”

“My recommendation for students is just to take that next step and engage with us and let us be a guide from here on out. It’s a weird time for sure, but it’s really helpful to have someone to go through that journey with,” Nielsen said. 


[email protected]