Nicholas Lee ’14 admits he was a bit uneasy with the idea that popped into his head during a recent job interview conducted by teleconference. To build rapport and convey his passion for, well, building real stuff, the software engineer grabbed a chunk of electronic hardware he’d been tinkering with as a personal project and brought it into webcam view for his interviewers at Amazon to admire.
“At first I was nervous. It seemed like a very childish thing, like something a 101 computer science student would make,” he says. But that brief moment helped him relax. “I got in the groove of it and the rest of the four-hour interview.”
Best of all, he got the job – smack dab in the middle of the coronavirus lock down, no less. Lee started at Amazon in May as a software engineer. His message to fellow Panthers graduating into an admittedly difficult job market is that being yourself is more important than ever.
“It’s a humanizing experience now,” says Lee, who graduated with a degree in computer science.
Job Searching During COVID-19
Indeed, it’s ever more important now to show your skills as well as what makes you who you are, says Susan Chang, assistant director of career education. That and many other job hunting strategies will be discussed and shared at Your Job Search During COVID-19, a virtual workshop planned by Chapman’s office of Career and Professional Development.
COVID-19 and its related travel restrictions and quarantines have changed life in so many ways, including the job and internship search, says Chang, who also teaches the leadership studies course Leading Your life Managing Your Career. She offers three guiding tips.
Advice for the Job Search
- Be flexible and willing to consider industries you might have previously overlooked
- Remember that your career path is a journey not a destination
- Never underestimate the value of reaching out to build professional relationships
Polish those LinkedIn profiles, digital portfolios and personal web pages, too.
“Nowadays your social media branding is everywhere and since employers can’t have the benefit of seeing you in person, they’re going to make a lot more judgments based on your social media branding. So it’s really more important than ever to get a handle on what it looks like and is it a positive, compelling brand that you’re putting out there,” Chang says.
The career office may be quiet for the moment, but many of its resources, like Handshake, were already available online and it has shifted to offer even more, including mini-tutorials through Instagram.
Chapman alumni can also discover insights and strategies for making a job change during these unusual times at the Chapman Alumni blog.
Most of all, it’s ever more important to stand out, Chang says.
“Have tailored materials, reach out and do those informational interviews,” she advises. “Differentiate yourself.”