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Brennan Shannon (Bachelor of Business Administration ’20) saw COVID-19’s impact on his graduating class firsthand as President of the SAIT Accounting Society (SAS). The society helps students find jobs in their field.
“We were starting to see changes with employers using online events instead of in-person events. I got to be a friendly ear while students were navigating the job hunt. No one expected this,” he says.
The SAS had to work through uncertainty and stay the course while the companies it partners with figured out their next move. Open communication was key.
“If you’re interviewing for jobs, there’s a lot of extra stress,” Shannon says. “Luckily, we didn’t see too many jobs disappear. There was a solid commitment by the companies to keep positions available.”
Despite the pandemic, Sophie Szachta—a graduate of SAIT’s Medical Office Assistant class of 2020—landed three interviews after graduation and has just started her first job out of the program.
“Prior to SAIT, I would never get a single phone call for interviews,” she says. “I took full advantage of SAIT’s career hub, which had so many tools to help build my confidence. After that, when I went into interviews, I knew I had the skills and I knew why an employer should hire me.”
An Tran is a Career Advisor with SAIT’s Career Advancement Services department, which helps students prepare effective job applications and develop networking skills. She agrees with Shannon that 2020 has been a challenging year for grads.
“The number of positions available has shrunk considerably,” Tran says. “Some industries have been impacted more than others. However, the online interview process has been pretty smooth. A lot of employers were moving toward that before COVID-19 anyway.”
Tran says there are many ways students can elevate their job search, such as creating a LinkedIn profile and being active on the social network. She recommends connecting with SAIT instructors, who have strong ties to industry.
Shannon agrees with that advice.
“Companies can’t hold big career fairs right now,” he says. “It’s more on our shoulders to make sure we’re networking online.”
Confidence is also key, says Szachta, suggesting that grads focus on their strengths and what makes them unique—even though that can be challenging when you’re competing for a job with many other applicants.
The Career Advancement Services team has started hosting a series of virtual events to help prepare students for the job market, Tran says.
“I can’t stress enough how important it is for grads and alumni to take advantage of our services. We’re here to help and we love to help.”