In these strange times, thinking about professional development, work, and the like can be challenging. Fortunately, there are many resources available for people seeking ideas to be proactive about professional opportunity. Because you likely don’t have time to read a 40-page article or sort through a tangle of websites, Engagement Director Courtney Barrette and Career Advisor Liz Hruska curated five overarching tips to help current students, new graduates, and working professionals during these challenging times.


1. Invest in Informational Interviews and Networking 

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Social distancing doesn’t need to mean emotional distancing. During unstable times, it’s crucial to maintain your connections and build new ones. As we all recalibrate to this “new normal,” job postings, interviews, and onboarding will look different. However, employers are still posting and hiring! As of this writing, the keyword “remote” yielded 700+ job and internship opportunities on GoldPASS powered by Handshake, the UMN’s career network for students and alumni with local, national, and international employers. One thing all recruiters and hiring managers have emphasized is their interest in staying connected to their talent pool (you!). Use this time to network and build up your connections via informational interviews on-screen or over the phone. Be patient and gracious with your requests, but be clear with your asks. Some professionals have more time than ever for this kind of interaction, and a lot of us are a little starved for meaningful individual connection in the work realm. Always ask your interviewee who else they think you should reach out to.


2. Lean into LinkedIn 

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LinkedIn goes a long way—now more than ever. Log into (or create!) your profile, update your information, and make sure you’ve connected your profile to companies and organizations you’ve been a part of. Double-check your education profile: Is it affiliated with CCAPS? You can view other CCAPS alumni and enhance your network. There are also tons of groups and companies to follow, and of course there are jobs to browse. Search for a variety of hashtags to see posts that may not be listed as formal jobs, such as #HiringNow, #JobAlert, and #NowHiring. And, students: You have access to a tremendous amount of free resources with your LinkedIn Learning account to brush up your knowledge on leadership, collaboration, Excel or Google Suite, and even the best remote working practices.


3. Don’t Forget about Self Care

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Self-care may seem like a no-brainer right now. But what have you done for yourself lately? Here are a few websites that we recommend checking out:

  • YouTube and Instagram: You probably know that YouTube has an endless loop of video options, but you can explore free videos including streaming workouts and previously recorded webinars and events to expand your mind. And even Instagram is in on it, hosting live workouts with world-renowned trainers or videos from your favorite late night TV host or show (#SNLatHome, anyone?). Remember, laughing is healthy self-care, too!
  • Center for Spirituality & Healing: We’d be remiss to not mention the amazing resources and webinars that our colleagues at the U of M offer. Additional resources and information are accessible on the Taking Charge of Your Health & Wellbeing website for free.


4. Channel Ambition into Project Work

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Why not do your own project work to develop your skills, whatever that may look like for your skills and industry. For IT folks this may mean an open-source project on Github. Helper types may want to connect with short-term remote projects posted by nonprofits in need at The UMN has also recently partnered with Parker Dewey to offer micro (shorter) paid internships with remote options. Alternatively, there are some other great resources for employment opportunities through AmeriCorps. Positions are offered on a stipend and offer an educational award. Companies offering fully remote positions now and in the future are also great options. Check out RemoteWoman or We Work Remotely.


5. Use Career and Internship Services

U of M alumni continue to have access to full services for two years after graduation, and there’s a one-time complimentary appointment for alumni after that point. Though we are all working remotely at the U, staff are still available and excited to support you during your career development journey. Need a master resource of COVID-19 career development resources? We’ve got you covered! Or you can work individually with one of our counselors. Brush up the accomplishments on your resume, get personalized tips for video interviews, or even take a career self-assessment. Talk through your ideas with an objective, interested career development professional. We’re here for you!

Hopefully these resources are helpful. Just remember to be patient and be kind. Many in the world, and especially in the human resources world, are in precarious situations themselves, which may cause longer response times or an extended hiring process. They may be working at home with kids underfoot, or even have a loved one who is on the front lines of the COVID crisis. But don’t give up. Practice your resilience, use these resources to stay busy, and reach out to others in your network.