The COVID-19 pandemic has left many college students feeling uncertain and anxious about summer and post-graduation job opportunities. At the same time, employers are concerned about how the pandemic may impact their hiring plans.
Although much is unknown about the long-term effects of the pandemic on the job market, Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) career center directors established an innovative and collaborative campaign to help students and employers connect in these uncertain times.
The PASSHE-West Virtual Recruitment Campaign is a pilot initiated by the career center teams at Edinboro, Slippery Rock, California, Clarion and Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
The first session at Edinboro is scheduled for Wednesday, April 15 from 2-3 p.m., with recruitment specialists from the Academy Schools for at-risk youth.
“Immediately after the move to transition courses online for the remainder of the spring semester (and now through the summer), we knew we had to rethink our strategies, and work together to ensure a smooth transition for our students and employer partners,” said Monica Clem, executive director of Career Development and Experiential Learning at Edinboro.
Career center directors began meeting virtually to discuss ways to continue offering recruitment opportunities to students and alumni, while also assisting employers with their efforts.
The virtual recruitment campaign was developed and launched within a week with administrators and staffs coordinating outreach to nearly 1,000 Western Pennsylvania employers, offering virtual recruitment events through Zoom and other university technology. This gives employers access to the more than 30,000 students enrolled collectively at the System’s five Western Pennsylvania schools.
“All of our institutions are on Handshake, one of the largest recruiting platforms for college students nationwide,” said Rhonda Gifford, director of Career and Professional Development at California. “We are leveraging our shared technology and resources for the benefit of all of our students.”
More than 50 employers and graduate schools have already registered for the pilot. Each university is working to register students at their institution to participate in the virtual sessions.
“While COVID-19 is disrupting daily life all across our nation, employers’ response to this initiative indicates that there is still a lot of interest in recruiting our students” says Dr. John Rindy, director of career education and development at Slippery Rock University.
Student response has been positive.
“Knowing that the System’s career centers are working to make sure we still have opportunities to connect with employers and learn about various job opportunities has alleviated a lot of student concerns,” said Alexis Schricker, a senior middle and secondary education major at Edinboro.
The success of this first pilot will be shared with the System’s career center directors in Central and Eastern Pennsylvania, who have already expressed interest in replicating the effort in their regions.
“Our career directors are passionate about helping students achieve their goals by connecting regional employers to the incredible student talent from our universities,” said Dr. Tammy Manko, director of career and professional development at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. “This is no different – we remain committed to our mission in even the most challenging of times.”
The PASSHE-West Virtual Recruitment campaign runs from April 15 through May 11. Future campaigns will be announced in May 2020.