If this school year didn’t end weirdly enough, some universities may not be fully opening campuses in the fall. It’s important that schools take precautions and prioritize students’ health, which could mean more online classes for the fall semester/quarter. Even if students do return to campus in the autumn, Handshake research shows that most employers will continue to prioritize virtual recruitment.
Luckily, you have the summer to prepare for whatever fall may bring, so you can take steps to ensure any easy transition when it comes time to return to classes and land a job or internship offer.
How can I prepare for a virtual fall?
Here are some actionable steps, broken down week by week, to help you feel more comfortable leading up to your virtual fall job search:
Week 1: Relax and rejuvenate
Take time to unwind at the start of summer! The normalcy in your college career was turned upside down in the spring term. You probably miss your friends and feel stripped of some key experiences. If you want to take a week to celebrate being done with the term before diving back into the work, you should do so without guilt. So do it: go for a run, bake more banana bread, learn a TikTok dance–we all cope differently.
Week 2: Message your existing network
You’re probably already talking with your professors, classmates, and friends online and over video calls. Now is also a good time to reach out to people outside of your regular communication rotation, too! Check up on that TA from an old favorite class, or your manager from a past internship. We’re all looking forward to human connection and contacts like these are bound to have valuable feedback on questions you may have.
Week 3: Complete your Handshake profile
Take some time this week to log in to Handshake and fill out your profile. Students with profiles full of their information, achievements, and preferences are more likely to get messaged by recruiters. It’s always great to get a message or two from recruiters in your inbox after they stumble upon your filled out profile.
Week 4: Contact your career center
It’s ideal to utilize your college’s career center to answer your burning questions about the future of your college career, and any other inquiries you might have. They could have tips for a potential virtual interview or insight on which companies are still hiring. Because career center staff have so much practical knowledge for students and alums of their specific institutions, their resources are key when planning out your individual virtual fall.
Week 5: Research companies thoughtfully
Sheltering in place can provide time to think about where you really want to go with your career. Mull over the advice you’ve solicited from your network and career center and implement that into your research. Think about a company you admire for both mission and action–maybe what you would gain in an internship or job there. This is a great time to read reviews from past interns or employees, and even reach out to connect with people who work there (or in related fields) for advice.
Week 6: Organize your resume and cover letters
Using the information you’ve gathered in previous weeks, start optimizing your resume for the companies that you want to work for. After you’ve sorted out a clear resume, make a few changes depending on the role you’re applying to.
Make a list of your top employers and then craft personalized cover letters for each. Recruiters care about the specific interest you have in the organization, and why you want to work for them.
Week 7: Get a head start before classes begin
As the previous weeks passed, you’ve done an incredible job preparing assets to make your virtual fall a breeze. With your resume and profile prepped and polished, you can start scoping out virtual events, checking out new job listings, and applying for meaningful jobs and internships before classes begin again. It’s great practice, and it will relieve the job hunt pressure during your first weeks back in class.