Bethel’s Office of Career Development and Calling provides some tips for recent graduates and job-seekers in 2020.
By Rachel Blood & Jaimee Hood
Although nationwide unemployment rates have dropped and jobs are opening up around the country, some recent graduates may still feel that they are in a difficult position when it comes to finding secure employment.
After receiving her diploma in December 2019, Bethel graduate Rebecca Martin took a month off to rest and job-search. She began her post-grad career as an event coordinator for a financial institution at the end of January. Fifty days later, she received a call that her position had been eliminated.
“When I first received the call that my position was eliminated, I sobbed for hours,” Martin said. “I thought this was the one chance I had at making it in a decently competitive industry.”
Martin said that her despair quickly morphed into a sense of embarrassment. She said she felt like a failure until she realized that many professionals were in the same boat. Martin chose to turn her negative feelings into a “platform of positivity.”
When Martin looked on LinkedIn and other traditional job-search engines, postings in her industry were scarce. This had been her dream career since high school, so rather than settling for something in a different industry, she decided to get creative.
“I thought back to every venue I used to work with in high school and checked the employment opportunities tab for, hopefully, answers,” said Martin.
One day, Martin found the answer she was searching for — a job she wasn’t expecting to land until much later in her career. Now, she works as an event manager with Superior Shores Resort and Conference Center in Duluth, MN, coordinating events like weddings, corporate meetings, retreats and small elopements under unprecedented circumstances.
“What I love most is the ability to walk through all of these events from beginning to end hand in hand with all of my clients, create relationships, and spread positivity amongst an unknown world,” Martin said.
Martin has a success story in the COVID-19 job market. With extra CARES Act unemployment funding set to drop off July 31, many recent college graduates are feeling rising pressure to find something to help pay the bills.
Ann Vu Ngo, Associate Dean of Career Development and Calling, notes that while the stress these students are feeling is valid, it is important to counter the fear with a solid plan. She recommends students focus on what they can control: Updating resumes, cleaning up LinkedIn profiles, and most importantly, networking.
“This is the time to be fostering relationships with people in positions or working at companies that are of interest,” said Vu Ngo. “Be persistent with your efforts, but remember, you don’t have to do this alone.”
Career specialist Amanda Buol also suggests students sort new job and internship listings by date posted to increase the validity of the options shown. Handshake is a great resource for online postings that seek to hire Bethel students, said Buol.
While searching for a job, Martin said she realized the process is harder than it sounds on paper and that it can bring up a lot of emotions.
“It is ok to feel as though the world is a puzzle just waiting to be put together,” said Martin. “I think. . . I experienced every single emotion out there, and some days I was totally exhausted,” Martin said. “The one thing that kept me sane, ‘His timing, not mine.’”
Martin’s advice to those on the job search is to consider looking outside of mainstream job search platforms, use connections from previous jobs and check company websites for employment opportunities. She said there will be ups and downs, but recommends taking a few hours daily to research and apply for jobs or to perfect resumes and cover letters. Martin said that graduates searching for jobs will know by the end of their first interview whether or not the job is a perfect fit.
For students in need of guidance, the Office of Career Development and Calling provides several resources intended to set Bethel students up for their next step. Appointments for assistance with job searching, interview preparation, resume and cover letter reviews, and networking tips, including optimizing LinkedIn profiles to stand out to potential employers, are all available.
Career specialists and counselors are available for guidance to both current students and alumni as well.
“Be patient with yourself and don’t give up. Persistence is key right now,” says Vu Ngo. “None of our timelines for ourselves are playing out — maybe it takes a little longer to get a job. That’s okay, don’t let this stop you in your tracks, just keep going.”