Prepare to Pivot

The word “unprecedented” has been used a lot lately to describe not only the COVID-19 pandemic, but also the response from government and business. Businesses and schools have shifted to work at home and online learning in order to maintain social distance. This has several implications for your student preparing for their next steps whether it’s an internship, a new career or graduate school.

The good news is that the Boerigter Center for Calling and Career is here to help in every step along the way. In these unprecedented times, we are here to help your student. Whether it involves coming up with a new strategy or resetting expectations, students should prepare to pivot.

Many companies are experiencing financial stress and uncertainty. Just a few weeks ago, employers were struggling to find talent and opportunities were abundant. The sudden onset of this pandemic and the financial markets reactions have many companies implementing hiring freezes, furloughs, even layoffs. Now is the time to work together to proactively identify where opportunities have shifted.

What are we doing? The team at the Boerigter Center is proactively monitoring what employers are doing and working to get perspectives on their future plans. We are also networking with employers, alumni and families to identify opportunities in the shifting landscape. We would love to hear from you regarding opportunities and information, positive or negative, about what employers are doing in your area or field. While many companies are putting hiring on hold, others are actively seeking workers. We are sorting through these opportunities and will get the word out to students as we find them.

What can you and your student do? In a word, network. More than two-thirds of jobs are secured through networking. The Boerigter Center has great networking tools including The Hope College Connection. In addition, make sure to network with family and friends, and their family and friends!  Colleagues and clients are great referral sources as well. I find that people are more than willing to help our students. Encourage your student to have a sharp résumé, good online presence and interview skills which are all fundamental preparation steps. The Boerigter Center has abundant tools and resources and the staff continue to be available for an appointment virtually through Handshake.

Secondly, be patient. There are still jobs out there. Companies are dealing with many challenges right now, so onboarding new employees may not be their first priority. Help your student reset their expectations that it may take longer than usual to get hired.

As we have seen in the past few weeks, things are changing fast. I graduated from Hope in 1991. The Gulf War broke out my senior year and the job market turned down rapidly. A few of us were fortunate to have jobs lined up early only to face layoffs shortly after starting. A story for another day is how my career path was dramatically changed on September 11, 2001. The networking advice is even more critical in this situation because your student, now a young professional, will have more experience and a broader network of contacts. Also, the Boerigter Center is a resource for alumni just as it is for current students.

Attending a liberal arts college has well-positioned your student to pivot and has provided them the skills that employers and graduate programs are seeking. Remind them of that philosophy or English class where they had no idea what to write about or that seemingly impossible test in chemistry or biology. Perhaps they faced a difficult challenge on the field, court or stage. Your student has successfully executed tasks where they had no idea where to start or faced seemingly insurmountable uncertainty, but through coaching, mentors and encouragement they were well prepared. This is no different. Prepare to pivot.

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