Southeast Missouri State University students facing life after college may be wondering how they will find their first job amid a pandemic. And while the COVID-19 pandemic has changed many aspects of life, Career Services Director Dan Presson says students should not be afraid of the job search.
“Businesses are still hiring,” he said.
Southeast graduates are known to be hardworking, resilient, ready to engage and make an impact. 97% of Southeast students employed or furthering their education within 6 months of graduating – and businesses actively seek out Southeast students, Presson said.
One such business is Mueller Prost, an accounting and consulting firm based in St. Louis, Missouri. Mueller Prost annually returns to Southeast, digitally and in-person, to recruit with the help of Career Services and academic faculty.
“Don’t get discouraged,” said Alyssa Evensen, human resources generalist for Mueller Prost. “The pandemic has made a lot of things challenging for a lot of companies, but it has also forced a lot of companies to visit new ways of working.”
While some industries have been hit hard, Evensen said, others have been able to adapt and work with this “new normal” of business in a pandemic era.
“We are all learning this together and will get through it at the end of the day,” she said. “Just don’t give up!”
This year, Career Services has adapted to meet the challenges posed by COVID-19, including its fundamental services such as career counseling, resume and cover letter assistance and mock interviews, as well as networking opportunities and webinars.
Students will have opportunities to meet with potential employers throughout October and November through virtual recruiting event and employer information sessions. Students seeking employment after graduation can meet employers from a variety of fields including government, social services, STEM, healthcare, agriculture, law enforcement and education.
During such events, Evensen said there are a number of ways for students to stand out.
“Mueller Prost is looking for individuals who possess an entrepreneurial spirit, those who are not afraid to take risks, and can carry out our firm’s values every day,” she said.
Evensen offered some tips for students to show potential employers that they possess such qualities during an interview or networking event.
“Do not be afraid to ask questions. Do your homework on the firm before interviewing. Connect with current employees via LinkedIn — most employees will be willing to spend a few minutes with you sharing about their experience,” she said. “Pick the HR department’s brain on what the firm itself has to offer as far as culture, benefits, professional growth, career path options, and any initiatives the firm is currently working towards. Check out the firm’s website, social media accounts, and review sites like Glassdoor.”
Showing this type of initiative before and during the interview process really shows an employer that the student is driven and interested in becoming a part of the team, she said.
“Oh, and don’t forget to send a follow up email to those you interviewed with,” Evensen added. “It shows you value the interviewers time and will make you stand out against others.”
“Be sure to test your equipment prior to the event, minimize distractions around you, make sure your space is well lit, and still dress as if you were meeting in person for the interview,” she said, noting interviewees should not wear pajamas during an interview. “Another good tip is to keep notes with a few topics or questions you are hoping to learn about during your interview. Sometimes our minds may draw a blank — so this can help keep you on track.”
Above all, Evensen said successful job candidates possess good communication skills.
“Being able to effectively communicate can help increase innovation and creativity, improves relationships within the team from peers to upper management, and can boost productivity and efficiency,” she said.
The Office of Career Services will provide plenty of opportunities for students to learn from employers directly through several webinars planned throughout the fall semester. Webinars and Career Services events are listed online at semo.edu/careers/events, or on the Career Services Facebook page.
“Digital networking is increasingly important for entry-level employees,” Presson said. “Southeast’s Career Services wanted to give students a free opportunity to receive a professional headshot without leaving campus. By updating LinkedIn and other social media accounts, students can confidently portray themselves as professionals and use their social media as an asset to help them in their job or graduate school search.”
The headshot event with John Gerard Photography takes place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 27 in the University Center Program Lounge. Students must sign up for a time slot by calling Career Services at (573) 651-2583, and appointments are limited.
To make sure they stand out in the hiring process, Presson said, students should also ensure they possess a mature presence on social media.
“Now, more than ever, it is important to be completely in control of your personal brand,” he said. “Since social media and online living has merged with daily life, an employer is more likely than ever to review your digital life before offering a position. Everything needs to be curated, so an employer sees a positive image.”
For more information, contact Career Services at (573) 651-2583.