The Impact of COVID-19 on Student Employment

by Beth Williams, Career Services

Typically in Career Services, as the school year ends and most Michigan Tech students head off for summer jobs, we complete the assessments of the past year and incorporate lessons learned into planning for our fall events. This year, however, our department has been busier than normal amidst the COVID-19 disruption. The last few weeks have been a constant buzz of virtual appointments with students, phone calls with employers, and Zoom meetings with career services colleagues around the country.

So, what impact is COVID-19 having on corporate recruiting and our students’ job prospects? The following is what we’ve been hearing in Career Services and our response to this situation.

In our conversations with both students and employers over the past few weeks, we have learned that summer internships and co-op opportunities are experiencing substantial and varied changes. Some are moving forward as planned, yet many companies are pushing back their start dates to mid-summer or fall. Other companies are moving to a virtual internship experience, while still others have made the difficult decision to rescind their summer offers. In our conversations with employers, they have shared how painful it has been for them to pull back on their offers, and they are looking for ways to compensate students for this loss where they can. Nucor, a steel company and one of our Career Services Corporate Partners, is providing a $2,000 scholarship for Michigan Tech students whose offer they rescinded. In addition, they are offering those students who won’t yet be graduating an internship for next summer, and graduating students a guaranteed interview for full-time positions.

Luckily, we have not yet heard of full-time offers being rescinded, although some have pushed back their start dates. In fact, we are still receiving emails from recruiters asking us to post their full-time openings.

During this unprecedented time, we have had to pivot the services we provide to both students and employers. For our students, we are still offering virtual one-on-one appointments and will continue to do so through the summer. We have also held a variety of virtual workshops, including “Maximize Your Time at Home,” “Summer Internships: What We Know,” and “The Virtual Job Search.” We send out a weekly Sunday email to students with links to helpful resources, a list of who is hiring, and upcoming career events. We want our students to know we are still here for them.

Career Services has recently started hosting virtual coffee chats with our corporate partners to answer their questions, hear their concerns, share campus updates, and brainstorm recruiting ideas for the fall. In addition, our staff has been attending national and regional round-table conversations with other universities and industry professionals to discuss the economic impact of COVID-19 and best practices in helping students and employers navigate these challenges.