Published on June 13th, 2020 | by TLV News


UM Career Center Helping Students, Graduates in Uncertain Times

Virtual drop-in hours and ongoing preparation efforts designed to help navigate uncertain prospects

The University of Mississippi Career Center is hosting virtual drop-in hours for students. This is just one of the many ways the Career Center is working to help students whose career prospects and part-time jobs have been affected by COVID-19.

Toni Avant, Career Center Director
Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

“We want students to continue to prepare for the opportunities they were interested in prior to the virus,” said Toni Avant, the center’s director. “It’s frustrating, but I don’t think it’s hopeless.”

Being prepared includes having documentation in order, practicing interviews, establishing a LinkedIn presence, connecting with other graduates and alumni, preparing for interviews that may be done virtually, updating resumes, and finding areas and skills that can be improved or learned in the current environment, Avant said. One of the best things students can do is practice interviewing with the Career Center staff, she said.

The center isn’t just for recent and perspective graduates. For students who need a part-time job to help cover school and living expenses, the Career Center actively seeks local employers to hire students.

During the COVID-19 crisis, Avant and her team have expanded their search to Pontotoc, Batesville, Tupelo, Holly Springs and Water Valley. The list changes as jobs are added or taken, but at the time of publication, 15 companies in Oxford and one in Batesville were seeking student applicants – including hardware stores, grocery stores, restaurants, food delivery companies, the U.S. Census Bureau and apartment complexes.

For an updated list of available part-time jobs, log into the Career Center’s Handshake platform.

While there, students also can register for upcoming Career Center virtual events and schedule an online meeting to critique a resume or cover letter, perform a mock interview, receive career counseling, search for an internship or receive a career assessment.

Nicole Kallenberger, a recent Ole Miss graduate from Kansas City, Missouri, used Handshake during her junior year to find a part-time job on campus. She’s beginning work on a master’s degree in accountancy and data analytics, but still checks Handshake every week as she looks toward a career.

“Everything is a little more up in the air these days,” she said. “But I’ve been checking in on Handshake every week or so to see if there is something more accounting-related.”

Virtual drop-in hours are scheduled for 10-11 a.m. and 2-3 p.m. Mondays through Fridays until further notice. Students can email to gain access to a virtual session.

The staff is also maintaining its regular office hours virtually, even while campus is closed.

“It’s not business as usual by any means, but I do think it’s important for our students to know that their work situation might look a little different from what they expected for themselves,” Avant said. “Their plans may be on hold for a little while but that doesn’t mean they aren’t going to happen.”

Students and recent graduates who want to take advantage of this downturn have an opportunity to add certifications to their resume and be even more prepared when things return to something resembling normal, Avant said.

By JB Clark

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About the Author

The Local Voice is a bimonthly entertainment guide and newspaper based in Oxford, Mississippi, covering and distributed in North Central Mississippi, including Oxford, Ole Miss, Taylor, Abbeville, Water Valley, Lafayette County, Yalobusha County, and parts of Panola County, Marshall County, and Tupelo . The Local Voice is distributed free to over 255 locations in North Mississippi and also available as a full color PDF download worldwide on the internet.

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