By Rishi Ghorad, 2020-2021 SCS Advising Leader:
The challenges in the quarantine school year are further accentuated by difficulties within the job economy. Many companies now operate largely away from traditional workspaces and have shifted their policies and opportunities involving part-time work and internships. The beginning of quarantine in the spring and summer of 2020 saw the worst of this, with the uncertainty of the global pandemic resulting in many graduating students unable to obtain jobs. Undergraduates also were impacted through rescinded or canceled internships and part-time work. In some areas, it was not possible to even pick up a small-time summer job due to the severity of
COVID-19. I was one of the lucky few, with my undergraduate research position that was able to transition into data analysis and report writing/submission during the summer. However, the roadblock from returning to regular workspaces such as the lab prevented this from continuing into the fall semester. The fall career fair also felt the effects of the pandemic, with a reduced company presence, various troubleshooting issues, and even more selectivity amongst limited staffing. Regardless of the difficulties in career building during these times, it is still critical to weigh your options and attempt to develop yourself.
One of the biggest sources of information when it comes to career building for chemical engineers is SCS Careers and Services. They offer resume reviews, mock interviews, and the staff are also knowledgeable about any related topics. By searching for the UIUC SCS Careers and Services online, the homepage can be found. This includes information about planning, employers, alumni statistics, and scheduling meetings with staff. Online interviewing (usually through some form of a chat room or video call) has become normal for the majority of company recruitment. The Career Services office is a gold mine for preparing and improving your career-seeking agenda, but even while the in-person visits are not possible there is much it can offer.
In terms other than preparations and resume building, it is vital to continue being involved in the social world of the workforce. Sites like LinkedIn and Handshake are important in getting connected with employers and other professionals. In particular, Handshake notifies you of potential job fairs and companies looking to organize meetings and informational sessions. It is very helpful in preparing and organizing career fairs throughout the school year. Despite the ongoing problems the pandemic has caused and the uncertainty of jobs or interning opportunities, it is important to remain connected and
informed. By showing initiative and interest in seeking these opportunities, future endeavors will likely be taken with more experience on hand, and those prospective employers will recognize this drive and perhaps reward it accordingly.