Broadway houses may have gone dark during the COVID-19 crisis, but they’re still hiring, said Director of Career Services Annette McLaughlin.
“Even though they’re not open and doing live performances, they are hiring people from the business world to evaluate ticket sales and people from data science, as well as people from within the theater to plan for the future, and that’s something you might not have thought of,” she said.
Theater is just one example of an industry that is hiring—and hiring for brand-new positions– despite the massive disruption caused by the pandemic. Some of the new career opportunities may seem obvious, such as jobs in technology, cybersecurity, health care, and digital media. Other fields that might not immediately come to mind, McLaughlin said, include compliance, risk management, and supply-chain data analytics.
Still, there’s no denying these are rough times for internship seekers and job searchers. But McLaughlin said Fordham students, whether they’re from in the Theatre program or majoring in economics, are well prepared for what she calls the “new now,” as opposed to the new normal.
“Nothing about the COVID-19 pandemic is normal,” she said, noting that there will be many adjustments, including, most immediately, delayed start dates and restructuring of summer internships. “But we think our students are very well-equipped for the changing landscape.”
And for those who are struggling, her office is prepared to help. While many university career service offices have moved away from counseling and shifted their focus to career advising for various industries, Fordham has maintained a blend of the two.
“A lot of our counselors have a master’s in mental health counseling,” she said, adding that they have the empathy and skills that allow them to identify students who are having a hard time in the current climate. Several counselors are equipped to identify potential issues that could make job hunting tough, and in some cases may refer students to Counseling and Psychological Services. for additional help.
Dennis Grant, senior director of the Gabelli School of Business’ Career Development Center concurred with McLaughlin that Fordham students will be ready for the changing environment, though he expects they will need to be a bit nimbler in their expectations.
“The pandemic has certainly knocked students off their strides in terms of where the world was and what career opportunities will emerge to consider. In this environment, much of our coaching is aimed at life skills: stay resilient, stay positive, think long term,” said Grant. “Students will need to be more versatile, open to a broader set of career paths and geographic locations.”
Platforms Provide Purpose
McLaughlin said the Career Service’s portal, Fordham Handshake, recently launched a dashboard summarizing the shift in job strengths so students can see exactly how many jobs exist in a specific industry. This past week Morgan Stanley posted several internships in compliance and JP Morgan Chase will be hosting “spotlights” where the firm maps out a checklist of requirements for software engineer openings, she said.
“As of now we have over 5,000 jobs that have been posted within the last 90 days,” she said. “They are on the Fordham-specific website.”
She noted that in education, K through 12 has seen a 23% increase of new jobs posted in 2020. And, not surprisingly, health care is up 28% from last year. Every day, she said, Career Services staff speaks with employers who are continuing to recruit remotely.
The future of work is McLaughlin’s area of expertise, and that perspective proved to be helpful in preparing for a more virtual hiring environment.
“This past fall most of our employers were using an online platform called HireVue, where our students had already adapted to being interviewed virtually,” she said. “Our office and the world of work have been virtual for a while. Our resources are 24/7. “
“We invested in another online platform, Big Interview, where students can interview themselves, record the interview, and then play it back. They can then meet with a counselor and get tips.”
Grant said that while the summer will remain a time of uncertainty for job seekers and employers alike, graduates should remain engaged in a healthy dose of networking.
“Don’t shy away from reaching out to alumni to request an informational meeting,” he said. “It’s as simple as asking, ‘I’m a marketing student, can I spend 20 minutes with you understanding your industry, your firm, and the impact of the pandemic might be having on your business and the hiring landscape.’ Alumni are being even more generous with their time to help Gabelli students in this crisis.”
He suggested that students use LinkedIn and the alumni directory on Forever Fordham to be proactive to connect with alumni. Students should follow guidelines from the Gabelli Career Development Center about how to reach out to alumni in these sensitive times.
The Career Development Center is also working with students to provide alternatives to classic internships, many of which have been canceled or shortened. Many faculty have provided research opportunities that match student’s areas of career interest. Another trend emerging is micro-internships, which are on-demand short term project work coming from companies across various industry sectors.
“Even if summer work is self-directed, the important thing is for students to have an experience that demonstrates a passion, is skill-enhancing, is resume building, and can be leveraged for future career pursuits,” said Grant. “For example, a finance student could work on a project that involves the utilization of financial models.”
Virtual Events: Prompting the Pivot to the Post-COVID Work World
There are also several virtual events planned, said McLaughlin. This Thursday, May 21, from 12 to 3 p.m., the Career Services office will hold a Virtual STEM Fair where students will be able to connect with employers and graduate school representatives. To attend, students must register on Handshake as soon as possible, she said.
Employers at the fair will include Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Biosafety & Biocontainment Training Program, New York State Department of Civil Service, the Peace Corps, U.S. Department of State, Northwestern Mutual, and Weill Cornell Medicine—among many others.
Student-athletes can attend a session called “You Got This,” an athlete-specific workshop to be held on May 26 at 2 p.m. Participants will explore how the on-the-field experiences that require grit, determination, resilience, dedication, and teamwork can help propel them in the post-COVID-19 era of work. McLaughlin will be joined by one of her team members and former college athlete, Lindsey Worker, PCS ’19, as they discuss how to make connections and gain experience.
Other upcoming events include a Cognizant Virtual Career Fair for Women in Technology and Digital Engineering, Career Resources for Job Searching in the Age of COVID-19, Jobs & Meaningful Work During COVID-19 hosted by the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, Wealth Advisory Group Virtual Career Day, and Publishing 101 with Michelle Herrera Mulligan, senior editor at ATRIA Books. Mulligan was to be the keynote speaker for this year’s Global Diversity and Inclusivity Summit that was canceled due to the pandemic. All events are listed on Handshake.
Values that Transcend Media
McLaughlin said that the skills needed to get through this challenging period—verbal and written communication, problem-solving, teamwork, and leadership—are all skills that Fordham students possessed before the pandemic.
“We are humanists. And this pandemic is affecting every human,” she said. “So, the liberal arts background in the core curriculum has positioned all of our students to be successful in the pandemic and post-pandemic era.”
The same holds true for Gabelli students said Grant, whose education is also steeped in the liberal arts core courses.
“Core courses develop critical thinking skills that can be used in a broad set of circumstances throughout their careers, particularly in periods of crisis,” he said. “Students are not graduating from Gabelli School of Business with a vocational degree, they have a liberal arts foundation overlaid with specific business courses to provide domain knowledge for careers in marketing, finance, and accounting, among others.”
McLaughlin added that when push comes to shove, businesses still need to operate, and they need good employees.
“It doesn’t matter your field. You know what, banks are still hiring. They may not be hiring for mergers and acquisitions or new deals, but they’re going to be restructuring. They will need people for distressed debt, restructuring, and bankruptcy,” she said “The same thing from legal and across all industries.”
“We’re seeing huge amounts of creativity and innovation from our art students, our business students, and English majors; that creativity and innovation shows they can rise to the occasion. The Fordham community is resilient and we will get through this together,” she said.