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Job Searching During A Pandemic



This year’s graduates will be heading out into a strange new world. College-bound high school grads will be wondering if they’ll be moving to an actual college campus later this summer, or if they’ll remain at home, continuing to handle their academics online. College graduates will be heading out into a dramatically changed “real world,” seeking employment or hoping to hold onto the internships they secured before the COVID-19 crisis hit.

In reading comments by parents on the College Confidential discussion forum, I’ve seen the pandemic realities set in. Upcoming summer internships are being canceled for college students and high schoolers. Job offers formerly extended to graduating college seniors are being withdrawn and, in many cases, the main reason is, “We’re just not sure what’s going to happen.” Uncertainty can sometimes be more stressful than bad news.

In trying to get some perspective about the current job market and job search situation for college graduates, I found two articles that offer practical insights. First, NPR’s Graduating In A Pandemic: Advice For The Anxious Post-College Job Search has some specific advice for the Class of 2020. Next, ForbesHow Soon-To-Be College Graduates Can Job Hunt During The Coronavirus Outbreak provides look-ahead strategies for pending grads.

Uncertainty Reigns

The uncertainty factor is a most perplexing element for graduates. At this point, there doesn’t appear to be any consistency in which states, or even specific regions within states, will “reopen” in the near future. Some states, like Georgia and South Carolina, are making relatively major efforts to get their economies back on track, providing some job hunters with the expectation that positions will be available soon.

Uncertainty centers around the fact that graduates targeting specific areas of the country may not be able to land their intended jobs because their states don’t have a scheduled date for reopening. Grads may have to take an “any port in a storm” approach and commit to an offer anywhere just to have work, thus passing up opportunities that may open up later in their preferred regions. As with many things in life, timing is everything, for better or worse.

Flexibility is a key mindset that grads should keep in mind. NPR notes Kamla Charles’ advice about that:

“In your mind, when you major in something, you feel like this major specifically fits just that area,” says Kamla Charles, coordinator of employer relations at Valencia College in Florida. But she says the skills you’re learning within your major are giving you a foundation. The experiences and opportunities you take advantage of will ultimately shape your career pathway, more than what you majored in. “Be flexible in exploring other industries that are thriving right now, like technology and online platforms,” she says. Think: “How can you pivot in this time and use the skills that they’ve learned, but just applying them in a new way?”

The analogy that occurs to me is that of a running back on a football team. Did you ever notice how the great backs go down the field? They don’t merely run as fast as they can. They surge then slow, giving themselves the “flexibility” to follow their blockers, dart through openings and avoid tacklers. Job seekers who are focused full-speed on one discipline, one state or one city aren’t maximizing their chances because of straight-line thinking. Negotiating changing circumstances is a lot like dodging tacklers.

Interviewing Takes New Shape

Interviewing has always been a challenge, even during “normal” times. Many companies are now operating with minimal onsite staff and a significant number of key personnel working from home. Making a strong interview impression can be difficult. The main tools of remote contact — Zoom, FaceTime and other applications — lack the face-to-face advantages that allow candidates and interviewers to observe physical cues such as body language and eye contact. The good news is that, like TV news anchors, you only have to look good from the waist up, opening the door for unseen, relaxed pajamas-bottoms comfort “south of the border.”

Forbes writer Jack Kelly offers some advice about Internet interviews:

With phone interviews, you can’t see the interviewer or the office. You’ll miss out on social cues, which will tell you that they liked or disliked how you answered a question. Without seeing the office, you won’t gain a feel of the place, people and culture. In person, you may see some sports memorabilia and learn that you share a similar passion for a team, which is a great icebreaker.

Recent graduates may not feel as comfortable on the phone as Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers. You should practice conducting mock phone interviews. One of the benefits of a phone interview is that you can write notes and keep them in front of you while talking. It will keep you focused, on topic and offer a training-wheels assurance.

Video interviews offer a close resemblance to an in-person meeting. You may have conducted enough FaceTime conversations that you’re more comfortable with this mode of interaction. It will be easy to fall back into an informal tone as that’s what you’re used to. Remember that this is an interview and you need to keep it professional

I’ve been through a number of recessionary periods and have experienced being one of a cast of thousands competing for a job opening. The key, in my view, is making yourself stand out from the crowd. That a cliche, I know, but with the power of the internet, you can come into an interview loaded with unique appeal. How do you do that?

Another analogy is that a job interview is much like a college admissions interview, where you’re applying for a “job” as a member of a particular college’s student body. The key is to know much about the school where you want to go. Digging out small but significant points about not only the school, but also the specific area in which you want to study, displays focus and passion. The same thing applies to job interviews. Research the company and impress your interviewer with deep insights:

“I see that Raytheon has responded to the DOD’s RFP for fast Fourier transform development. I wrote a paper on FFTs my senior year.” I can almost guarantee that no other candidate will say something more impressive than that. Dig deep into your interviewer’s company and stand out. As Kamla Charles says:

Tailor your experience. “Now is not the time to be submitting generic materials for hundreds and hundreds of opportunities,” Peltz says. Instead, he says, you’ve got to set yourself apart and be creative in how you sell yourself to prospective employers. “Candidates need to really tailor their materials and message as to why they’re a good fit and why they’re interested in that particular opportunity. Employers don’t want to hire somebody just looking for a job. They want to hire somebody who’s looking for their job.”

Explain how your engineering (or whatever) major work in college gave you hands-on experience with FFT algorithms (or whatever that company’s product or service is). If you are, in fact, conducting your interview remotely, be aware of your eyes’ power to convey enthusiasm, sincerity and intensity. I found it helpful to speak in front of a mirror to see how I look when trying to be persuasive. Be sure to remove your mask before you practice!

Don’t Expect Quick Job Results

Finally, Kelly advises about an obvious reality:

In light of the stock market correction, continued fears over COVID-19 and a weakened economy, your job search may take longer than the graduates of years past. You will have to develop a thick skin. You need to stay mentally and emotionally strong. It’s understandable to feel badly that after working so hard and incurring large sums in college debt, you now have to face a once-in-a-generation difficult job market.

Temper your expectations so that you won’t get disappointed if this takes a long time. Given the disruptions at companies, it’s likely that you won’t often hear back from them. The interview process will be clunky as companies are primarily focused on looking after their employees and figuring out how to navigate this tough time period

These cautions apply even when there’s no pandemic. Adjust your thinking, timeline and expectations. In the spirit of exhortation, then, I’ll leave you with that famous, if not redundant, encouragement from Winston Churchill: “Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never — in nothing, great or small, large or petty — never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.” Thus, stay true to your conviction for success — and don’t give up!


By: Dave Berry
Title: Job Searching During A Pandemic
Sourced From:
Published Date: Thu, 23 Apr 2020 15:07:03 +0000


A Guide From

Recent college graduates face a tough job market : Here are your options

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, unemployment has soared this year. As of October 2020, almost 11.1 million Americans were jobless, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Even more have been furloughed or seen their hours cut.

But the health crisis isn’t just hurting those already in the workforce. According to new data, recent college grads are suffering, too. A June poll from the National Association of Colleges and Employers showed that about 8 percent of companies were planning to or had already revoked job offers to class of 2020 graduates.

Grads who do see their offers revoked are thrown back into the job market — the nation’s worst in more than a decade. Those with federal student loans also face mounting financial pressure, especially as their six-month payment grace periods start to run out.

Navigating the job market in 2020

Fortunately, not all hope is lost. Though finding a job in today’s flailing market is certainly challenging, there are still employment options out there. If you’re one of the many 2020 graduates on the hunt for one, this guide can help.

Not all industries have been hit the same by the pandemic. The hospitality and leisure industry, for example, took one one of the biggest blows. Since the start of the outbreak, the sector has lost 3.5 million jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Retail has also taken a beating, and while the employment in retail trade has risen by 1.9 million since April, it’s still 499,000 below what it was in February. The transportation industry has also seen steep losses, largely due to waning travel and tourism.

It’s not all bad news, though. Many industries have actually expanded in recent months, and focusing your job search in these sectors may help to make the job search easier.

The health and family care sectors are just a few of such thriving industries. Health care employment and social assistance jobs increased by 79,000 in October, while child care, family services and private education saw notable upticks as well. Here’s a quick look at some of the best- and worst-performing industries during the most recent months of the pandemic.

Industries going strong in recent months:

  • Health care.
  • Manufacturing.
  • Real estate.
  • Finance and insurance.
  • Construction.
  • Professional and technical services.
  • Employment services.

Industries hit hard in recent months:

  • Airlines and transportation.
  • Oil and gas.
  • Telecommunications.
  • Educational services.
  • Government.

Shifting your focus to some of these stronger markets might lead to more opportunities. You should also consider looking outside your geographic area. Since many companies are now operating remotely, you may be eligible for positions in other states or even other countries. Check out remote-specific job boards like FlexJobs and for potential options.

Tips for getting through financial hard times

Even if you do hone your job search and look toward more thriving sectors, there’s still a chance that employment won’t come easy. If that’s the case, you’ll need to get creative in how you manage your finances until things turn around. The below tips can help.

Look for lower-cost housing

If mom and dad are up for it, you might consider moving in with your parents for a while — at least until the pandemic blows over. You’ll save big on housing costs, and you can also take advantage of the rent-free time to save aggressively. This will ensure that you’re ready to put down that security deposit (or down payment) as soon as you’ve locked in a job.

If moving home isn’t an option or your family needs financial help, too, you can:

  • Talk to your landlord or property manager. You may be able to get on a payment plan or defer your payments for a certain period of time.
  • Look for housing assistance. Many states and municipalities offer rent and housing payment assistance for residents in need.
  • Consider adding a roommate. If you can add another person or two, you can cut your housing costs drastically — not to mention your utility bills.

Depending on your household’s income level, you may also qualify for Section 8 housing. This usually requires just 30 percent of your income.

Take on a side gig or part-time job

Food delivery services like DoorDash, Uber Eats and other similar apps have exploded thanks to stay-at-home orders. The same is true for grocery delivery services, like Instacart and Shipt.

Some other potential side gigs include:

  • Dog walking.
  • Housesitting.
  • Mowing lawns.
  • Babysitting or nannying.

Though these gigs don’t come with massive salaries, they can help you stay afloat during difficult times. They’re also pretty flexible schedule-wise, which is helpful in case you line up an interview.

Get serious about cutting corners

Keeping your costs low is critical if you’re not bringing in much income. You’ll want to reduce things like your grocery bill, utilities, gas and more.

Here are a few ways to do that:

  • Shop at discount stores, like Costco or Aldi — both for groceries and general household items. The local dollar store may also have some staples.
  • Review your utility and service providers. If it’s been a few years since you chose your power company or phone provider, chances are you’re not getting the best rate. Take time to compare your options, and don’t be afraid to call up your current providers to renegotiate.
  • Rely on space heaters or bundling up rather than having the heater on constantly. Heating costs can get expensive, especially in the colder months.
  • Cut the cord. You’d be surprised at how much you can save by cutting out cable or other entertainment services.

You can also commit to DIYing more. Cook at home instead of ordering takeout or cancel that gym membership and work out at home instead.

Dealing with student loan debt

If you have federal student loans, you’re probably coming up on the end of that six-month grace period and the end of administrative forbearance. Fortunately, if making those new payments seems impossible, you have quite a few options.

With federal loans, you can apply for several types of repayment plans, including ones based on your income level or ones with increasing payments over time. You can also file for forbearance or deferment once administrative forbearance ends on Dec. 31, both of which put a temporary stay on payments while you sort through the financial hardship.

For private student loans, refinancing can help. This lets you take advantage of today’s low interest rates, ideally lowering your monthly payment in the process. You might also ask your lender about any discounts you might qualify for. Some companies offer discounts if you set up autopayments. This could save you a lot both over time and on your monthly payment.

All in all, here are some of your options if you’re having trouble making your payments:

Once you find a job, there’s a chance that your employer may help you with paying off your student loan debt. Not all companies offer this, but it’s worth asking HR once you’re hired on.

The bottom line

The COVID-19 pandemic has been particularly hard for the 2020 class of college graduates — especially those with student loans. If you’re one of the many 2020 grads who’s struggling financially, be ready to get creative. Negotiate with your landlord and utility providers, slash that shopping budget and talk to your student loan lender as soon as possible. You have more options than you think.

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Apply Online For Student Loans



Apply Online For Student Loans

Applying online for student loans is a convenient and efficient way to secure funding for your education. Whether you are facing financial difficulties or simply want to keep your debts to a minimum, student loans can help alleviate the financial burden while you focus on your studies.

One of the main advantages of student loans is that they typically offer lower interest rates compared to other types of loans. Additionally, repayment is often deferred until after you graduate, giving you time to establish your career and increase your income potential.

By applying online, you have access to a wider range of lenders, allowing you to compare different loan offers and choose the one that best suits your needs. Look for lenders offering competitive interest rates, flexible repayment terms, and any additional incentives that may be available.

Student loans can be used to cover various expenses related to your education, including tuition fees, housing, course materials, and living expenses. While your personal bank may be willing to provide a student loan, applying online gives you more options and potentially better terms.

However, it’s important to remember that student loans are still loans, and you should borrow responsibly. It’s advisable to budget regularly and avoid unnecessary purchases or luxuries to ensure you can manage your loan repayments in the future.

Before applying for student loans, explore other options such as scholarships, grants, or parental funding. These resources can help reduce the amount you need to borrow and minimize your financial obligations.

Lastly, it’s crucial to have confidence in your ability to secure a salary that will enable you to meet your loan repayments after graduation. Work hard to achieve the grades and qualifications necessary for your desired career, as this will increase your chances of finding a well-paying job.

In conclusion, applying online for student loans can provide you with the financial support needed to pursue your education. However, it’s important to borrow responsibly, explore other funding options, and plan for a successful career to ensure you can manage your loan repayments effectively.

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Webinar Recap: How COVID-19 is Affecting Financial Aid



Many families are facing new financial challenges in light of the coronavirus emergency, and College Confidential has fielded dozens of questions on this topic recently. To address those queries, we hosted a webinar on April 9 entitled “Paying for College Amid Changes Due to the Impact of COVID-19.”

During the event, moderated by Aaron Murphy, manager of learning and development with Inside Track, the following panelists offered their perspectives on the issue:

  • Denise Trusty, director of financial aid with Morehead State University
  • Laura Reisert Kalinkewicz, associate vice president of college partnerships with RaiseMe
  • Amy Nelson, director of sales at International Scholarship and Tuition Services
  • Charlie Javice, founder and CEO of Frank.

Check out the following topics that the panelists discussed, along with their views of how things may unfold amid the financial challenges brought on by the coronavirus outbreak.

Family Finances Changed? Contact Your Schools

If you plan to start college in the fall as a freshman — or return to school as an existing student — and your financial situation has changed since you applied for financial aid, you should contact the colleges on your list immediately. Financial aid departments can consider appeals for more money, but must base these decisions on each individual student’s situation, Trusty said.

“I know with Morehead State, where I work, we will be doing professional judgement calls on all students who say they’ve been affected,” she noted. “We will reach out to those students to see what we can do to help them maybe obtain additional funding, additional grants, scholarships, whatever they would be eligible for. We do professional judgment all the time for our students, because things happen all the time. This year will be an especially large amount of those, I’m sure, but those are up to individual schools to make that call for their students.”

In addition, she added, the Department of Education has set aside over $6 billion for additional grants and scholarships that the universities will be able to use. “Currently, I don’t know how that’s all going to play into this,” Trusty said. “So that will be up to each individual university on how they lay those out. I know it will be beneficial, I just don’t know how available that will be to each student.”

Keep in mind that schools are accustomed to reviewing financial aid appeals, and they all have processes in place for to do so. “It is really, really important to know that schools typically leave a budget from 10 percent to 20 percent or so of their financial aid dollars for what would be called a professional judgment bucket,”Javice said. “Therefore, there is additional money to be had, and it’s up to you to request it. You should approach your school as soon as you know you might need more money, and be prepared to show supporting documentation demonstrating how your finances are different from when you filed your FAFSA initially. This might require proof of a job loss, medical bills, a cut in pay or another such issue, Javice said.

In addition, if another school gave you a better financial offer, you can petition the school that gave you the lower offer for more money, Javice noted. “This typically works better for private institutions versus public state schools, given the fact that they have a little bit more discrepancy and more dollars to put to work in terms of a tuition discount,” she added. “This is solely up to the school on a case by case basis.” In some cases, the money is distributed on a first come, first serve timeline, so don’t wait if you know you need more aid.

Although financial aid can be a stressful topic, try not to be emotional when you request more money, Javice added. You’ll get a lot further by having organized documentation to present than you would by getting angry or upset, she noted.

Consider Outside Scholarships

The coronavirus situation has changed plans not only for incoming freshmen, but also for current college students, Nelson said. “Organizations are stepping up and trying to find ways to provide additional scholarship opportunities this year,” she noted. Students should be proactive in seeking those options.

Raise Me is offering new micro-scholarships for students who are seeking additional funding sources, Kalinkewicz said. In addition, she encourages students to ask colleges for more time to make decisions, even if the school hasn’t extended its deposit process. You can always try and request additional time to get your financial aid package right, she noted.

Finding more money is not relegated to younger students, Javice added. “Adult learners comprise the biggest group of people actually going to college today,” she noted. It’s very common for people to be seeking new types of skills and going back to college to gain additional degrees. Financial aid is available to adult learners, and they may even get aid to pay such costs as rent, she added. In addition, they can seek outside scholarships or employer-matching funds to pay for their educations.

Not Necessarily Too Late to File FAFSA

Students who didn’t file a FAFSA already should do that as soon as possible so you can get access to financial aid funds, Javice said. Federal FAFSA deadlines are usually in June, but states make their own deadlines for state aid. Some states, such as New Jersey, have moved their deadlines back for this year, so check to make sure you stay on top of your deadlines.

And if you file for financial aid and you decide you don’t want it, you can always decline the financial offer or portions of that offer, Nelson said. Your best bet is to apply so you can take what you need and decline any amounts you don’t need. Even if you don’t think you qualify for financial aid, you should apply anyway because you could be surprised at what you’re offered. “You really need to complete that [FAFSA] process every year,” Nelson said. “The process is very easy, and jobs can come and go. It’s your safety net and you want to make sure you’ve completed it. It makes it a whole lot easier when situations like this arise.”

Some colleges also have supplemental applications to fill out for particular types of aid, so always reach out to your financial aid office for information on which documentation you should be completing, Kalinkewicz said.

Could Families — Not Schools — Be in the Driver’s Seat?

Because many merit scholarships are based on test scores and GPAs, some high school juniors are concerned that they won’t have access to those in the coming year. With test dates being canceled and grades moving to pass/fail, they fear they won’t meet the criteria to earn such scholarships.

“It’s clear to me that colleges and universities know the extraordinary circumstances we’re under,” Nelson said. “All schools are leaning forward and considering all options as the situation develops. I would continue to encourage juniors to stay engaged and stay informed.” You should also watch to see what happens with test dates, she said. The ACT and SAT dates could change, and some schools may forego the need for a test score altogether, she added.

In addition, some merit scholarships that have traditionally been based on test scores may become test optional, Kalinkewicz noted.

Keep in mind that in many cases, families are in the driver’s seat rather than having the colleges be in charge, Javice said. Some schools have lost revenue and are very eager for students right now, “so if you are scared because you thought you could never get into a specific school from an admission criteria standpoint, this is your year to stretch, this is your year to think about the schools that are your reach category and go for it, because schools need the money and need the students. So the power that used to be in an admissions office is in you, the student or the family’s hands,” she said.

She also advises juniors to request application waivers from schools to save the $50 to $100 or so per application that they would normally pay. The schools may say no, but it won’t hurt to ask, she advised. “Persistence is key when dealing with schools,” Javice noted.

Federal Student Loans Payment Suspended

As many families are aware, payments on federal student loans are automatically suspended from March 13 through September 30, 2020 thanks to the government’s CARES Act. This is essential to keep in mind, particularly for families that have multiple children in various stages of the college process.

“You will stop paying your loans and you will have zero interest from now until September 30, and that’s important for parents to know,” Nelson said regarding existing federal student loans. “If you had an auto draft, the auto draft has been shut off and will not continue. You can, however, continue to make those payments if you’d like, and any interest you had before March 13, once that interest is paid up, all your payments will go directly toward your principal.” She advises families with federally-backed loans to check with their loan servicing agents, because they have a lot of information for both parent and student borrowers on how the CARES Act will impact payments for the next six months.

Student Job Gone? Colleges Might Help

For students who expect to earn money via part-time or full-time work to pay for college, but can’t do so due to the coronavirus, colleges may have resources to help. “There are many colleges and universities that have put together emergency grants for students to cover expenses that they were maybe not expecting because of COVID-19,” Nelson said. “They are making accommodations to try and make up for that lost income for students.”

Trusty said Morehead State is continuing to pay students who were on federal work-study. “If they had a job, we are still paying them right now as if they were working, although they are not. In the summer, those funds will be flipped over to emergency grant funds. So we will make sure that our students are covered and can live as if they were employed with the work-study position.”

Some colleges have even made remote work available to students, Kalinkewicz added. Therefore, contact your financial aid office to determine if any accommodations are available to make up for lost student income whenever possible.

Consider Other Options to Save

If you are seeking ways to save money on college, you should also consider other resources, whether that means less expensive colleges, in-state options or potentially transferring down the road, Janice said. You can also save money by taking classes at a community college to pay a lower cost for your credits that can be transferred to a four-year college later.

“If you have that target institution in mind — maybe you’ve already been admitted there but your family has determined a year of community college will really help stretch things further — work on articulation agreements or a plan so you are taking the right classes that actually have the ability to transfer toward the degree you want at your target institution, not necessarily just as credit,” Kalinkewicz said.

In addition, many colleges offer merit aid for transfer students, she added. So always look for every potential financial aid and scholarship resource to best maximize your package and allow your dollars to stretch as far as possible.

Resource: To review the entire hour-long webinar, you can watch the replay here.

Share Your Thoughts

We’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Check out our forum to contribute to the conversation!

By: Torrey Kim
Title: Webinar Recap: How COVID-19 is Affecting Financial Aid
Sourced From:
Published Date: Fri, 10 Apr 2020 15:22:20 +0000

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