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Senior Perspective: Applying to Jobs in a Pandemic

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Image of the Commonwealth Honors College at the University of Massachusetts and text reading: Senior Perspective, Applying to Jobs in a Pandemic

As I enter my last semester of college, the inevitable job search has finally begun. However, much like the rest of America’s class of 2021, my application process is a bit different than previous classes — we’re in a pandemic, and as I look for jobs now, I am finding more and more positions offered entirely remotely. 

The Pandemic’s Impact

Although it is just the beginning, my job application process thus far has been pretty similar to what it would have been pre-COVID. I'm just starting doing interviews, but my first interview was conducted in an online forum not unique to the pandemic. I was sent a link by the company, and was asked to record answers to five questions (each recording being about two minutes long). I know people who had to do a similar style, “on-demand” interview before the pandemic, so I would say that was a pretty standard first round of interviews. None of the questions they asked were related to the pandemic, either. However, I’ve been told by UMass Career Counselors to include how I spent summer 2020, and my time during the pandemic as a whole, in my cover letters. For example, my summer 2020 internship was supposed to be at a brand agency in Connecticut where I would have done data analytics and writing, which was unfortunately canceled due to COVID. Luckily, the employer recently offered me the same position, this time for the winter. These are all some things I mention in my cover letters. The inclusion of these small, but important, details are what I would say is the biggest change in applications right now — companies are interested to learn how potential job candidates maneuvered the pandemic, and how they spent their time (since we had so much free time on our hands). 

A lot of the jobs I’m applying for right now, as a communication and journalism student, are remote positions. Some are remote indefinitely, and others only until businesses are welcome to reopen their own offices again safely. As more companies are able to conduct jobs remotely, there is financial incentive to reduce the cost of their office spaces, making for a new reality of the working class. As a college senior entering this new reality, I’m a little worried about securing a job, although I’m excited to see what the future holds.

My Tips

Much like my study process during remote classes this past semester, I think the most important aspect of the remote interviewing process is staying organized. Having strong organization skills is what helped me through fall 2020 at UMass, and I’ve definitely relayed those skills into my job hunt now. I have a folder on my desktop thats home to the resumes, cover letters, and descriptions of the jobs that I've applied to already.

Depending on how you look at it, the job hunt right now is both extremely competitive and not at all. A lot of companies are undergoing hiring sprees because of layoffs that took place in the spring, so that may be beneficial for new people on the job market like me. However, especially for my majors, there are a lot of people applying for jobs right now. To offset this, I just continue to apply to whatever I think I’d like and be a good fit for, even for jobs that I may not be overly qualified  the worst outcome is that the company says no.

To me, it is equally important to maintain a positive attitude about the process as it is staying organized. When I applied to colleges I was told I would end up where I belong. As a high school senior, I took that as cheesy advice — I was adamant on going to a certain college, and none other would suffice. As I am about to graduate from UMass, I'm taking the same advice: I will end up in the job that's right for me. Especially since we are still living through such an unprecedented time, I am taking my job application process seriously, but with a grain of salt — if I am declined from a position or do not hear back, I am trying to not let that deter myself from applying to others, and I am also trying not to take it personally (which can be hard because I’m sensitive).

All in all, the process has been stressful, and it’s just begun. I’m trying though to not let it be a negative thing — it’s exciting to see where my future can end up. Above anything else, I am enjoying my last semester of college in Amherst!


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