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Brittany Smith sits down with Paula Wishart, LSA's Assistant Dean of Student Development and Career Initiatives, to discuss how LSA students can be fostering career connections remotely in light of COVID-19. She also shares what steps students can take if their summer internship opportunity is uncertain. Lastly, she breaks down what the LSA Opportunity Hub is doing right now to support students as they actively make decisions on their next steps. Watch this short video or read a transcript of the interview below.
How the LSA Opportunity Hub Supports Students During COVID-19
March 30, 2020
Brittany Smith, Public Relations, LSA Communications
Paula Wishart, Assistant Dean of Student Development & Career Initiatives
Brittany Smith: Hey everyone, I’m Brittany Smith from LSA’s Marketing and Communications Office, and you are watching Just In Time, a video series where we provide students with information about resources and support during the COVID-19 crisis. Today we have Paula Wishart, Assistant Dean of Student Development & Career Initiatives at the LSA Opportunity Hub. Paula can talk more about how her program is adjusting to meet the needs of students during this time of remote learning. Hi Paula, thank you for joining us today, how are you?
Paula Wishart: Good, how are you Brittany? It’s good to see you!
Brittany Smith: I’m doing well, good to see you as well.
Question: So how is the Hub shifting to help students now that operations are remote?
Paula Wishart: Well, we’re doing a number of things. One thing we’re doing is taking the things we offered in person and making those virtual so students can still reach coaches and talk about whatever they want to talk about. If it’s something they want to talk about that’s very current for them, maybe their internship is shifting or they’re concerned about some of the things that might be changing for them this summer, they can talk with a coach. If they’re still thinking they want to plan and think through things and aren’t sure what they want to talk about, they can talk with a coach. So we still have that available to students, and they can reach us by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org and they can request an appointment and we can set that up for them.
We’re also bringing online our connections with alumni. We have a number of events that were going to be face to face but now we’ve made virtual, and we’ve added some as well, so that students can continue learning and thinking about the professional development and career possibilities through the incredible network of alum that we have. And we also are about to launch LSA Connect, which is going to be an opportunity for students to connect directly with alumni in whatever interest areas they have with alumni across the globe. We’re so excited that right now is the time we’re doing that, because this is really the time that students and alumni can reach to each other. Alumni are really interested in supporting students right now. So that’s going to be coming online very soon and will be available to students to connect to.
We will also be moving a number of our workshops into a virtual format. We’re thinking about topics that are particularly timely right now for students and expanding professional development and thinking about your career at a time where you can’t go out and do the things you want to do, but what to think about what you can be active in doing during this time. So, some things are live now. If you go to our website, you’ll see them, we send out our newsletter every Sunday, and we will continue to add things, right to student’s inboxes where they can find out about it.
Question: What should students do if they lose an internship opportunity? How do they deal with that, and what other ways can they engage?
Paula Wishart: That’s a great question, and actually our internship coordinators and coaches are getting a lot of those questions right now. There’s an opportunity to use that time in different ways, but I want to say first, if you are not sure or you just found out your internship opportunity is not available, it’s okay to reach out to that employer and say, “Is there any virtual work that you might be interested in having me do for you? Is there something I could work on while this time that we’re remote?” It also might be an opportunity to do an informational interview with the person that hired you for the internship. Reaching back is a completely acceptable thing to do. Know that people in organizations and companies are under a lot of stress too so they may not respond back. By you responding back, you are letting them know you are still interested. If not this summer, then maybe next summer. If not this summer for an internship, maybe next summer for a job. So, thinking through how showing continued interest even when there is not an internship enables you to continue a relationship is something to consider.
Also, this is a great time to start considering what your interests are and how you might do informational interviews, or network with people, virtually to talk about what they might advise, what their experience has been in an organization or company, what their career is about, etc. You could set up a number of those and create a virtual summer of learning of career areas that are interest to you. There are ways to link, certainly through LinkedIn, but there’s other ways you’ve met people and have never followed up with and now might be the time to do that. When LSA Connect is online you’ll have a very easy way to find ready and willing alumni to connect with.
Question: If students don’t have a job, what else can they do during the summer to help them further their careers?
Paula Wishart: Right know might be a great time to think about ways that you wanted to professionally develop that you haven’t in the past. Michigan Online is something I think about a lot, because we have a really great way to do online learning and there’s some really interesting courses on there, so that might be something you do. It might be also a summer that you start to explore areas of interest that you haven’t had time to do as deeply by doing virtual connections, by learning things you haven’t learned before. There are a lot of different ways to think about using this summer differently. If you are thinking about going to professional school and grad school, this might be a great time to explore that as well. Spend some time doing some research about where you are interested, prepping for the MCAT or the GRE, thinking about those things that will position you to be ready once things are up and running again.
Question: This was a great conversation. Is there a place where students can go, a website where students can go if they need more information?
Paula Wishart: Certainly for the LSA Hub, you can go to the LSA Opp Hub’s website and look at what’s there. Something that you might be interested in might be on there, but you can also then connect with one of us to think about what’s next.
Brittany Smith: Awesome, thanks again Paula for speaking with me today. This was a great conversation.
Paula Wishart: Thank you Brittany, and good luck to everyone. We are here to help you so please do reach out to use.
Brittany Smith: Awesome. That wraps up today’s Just In Time, be sure to stay tuned for our next video, please stay safe out there and we’ll see you soon!