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Thompson advised students entering the job market during the pandemic to consider their marketable skills obtained during their time in college.

JMU students had the opportunity to attend a virtual seminar through the University Career Center hosted by GoinGlobal on Tuesday, Dec. 8. The event focused on how job searches and employment opportunities have evolved as a result of COVID-19. 

Mary Anne Thompson, president and founder of GoinGlobal, kicked off the seminar with a discussion about the various resources available through its website. She said that GoinGlobal doesn’t organize direct job placements but instead serves to provide students with resources to discover internship and job opportunities both locally and abroad.

“We have global city, country and U.S. city career guides that we update constantly,” Thompson said. “It amazes me that after 20 plus years in this industry, there are still location-specific [formatting] differences in how to write a CV or resume for job applications.”

After providing general information about resources available to students on GoinGlobal, Thompson broke down how COVID-19 has transformed the job search process and the types of opportunities available. 

“Working virtually is here to stay,” Thompson said. “Companies like it better. It’s less expensive, workers like working virtually, and there is a challenge on both sides of that equation.”

Additionally, Thompson said that viewers should expect additional opportunities in the technology and renewable energy sectors as well as unexpected growth in positions related to media and entertainment, virtual office management and city planning.

While wrapping up the seminar, Thompson advised students entering the job market or searching for new opportunities during the pandemic to consider the marketable skills obtained during their time in college.

“You all have skills that will transfer laterally,” Thompson said. “Become intelligent about what you have in your skillset that could be utilized elsewhere.”

Already, hundreds of JMU students have graduated during the pandemic, entering an unstable and changing job market. According to The New York Times, “there are roughly 10 million fewer jobs than there were in February” and the pace of hiring has slowed over the last five months. 

Christine Nguyen, a health sciences major who graduated last May, said that she started her job search in June and was able to find an opportunity working in public health. She now works alongside contract tracers to ensure that people in quarantine and isolation have access to food, medicine and other necessities.

Nguyen said that she knows things are challenging right now, but she encourages those searching for jobs to persevere. 

“It’s hard right now,” Nguyen said. “I know some of my friends who graduated in May are still not able to find jobs. I would just say to keep going, keep your options open. Keep an open mind because it's hard for everyone right now, even those with more experience.”

A former JMU student — who’s transgender and requested to remain anonymous because of their ongoing transition  graduated in May 2020 as a health sciences major said that they had a challenging job search experience that spanned the course of several months.

“I was already looking for jobs [before the pandemic began],” they said. “I was taking fewer classes and had really lucked out. I had basically finished in December and just had to take some cognates. I was really trying to look for jobs and there was absolutely nothing.”

After submitting numerous applications across a broad spectrum of fields, they found a position that used their degree and was in the field of their choice. Just a few weeks later, they were accepted by another company to work as a lab technician, the exact type of position they wanted. They said that the job search experience was challenging due to the pandemic, but they found opportunities and encouraged JMU students not to give up.

“Literally apply for everything,” they said. “Don’t stop. If it looks like something you might have any interest in or even be a little qualified for, go for it. The wider you have your net the easier it is to get something.”

Contact Sydney Dudley at dudleysl@dukes.jmu.edu. For more coverage of JMU and Harrisonburg news, follow the news desk on Twitter @BreezeNewsJMU.