Brock supports student employment during pandemic

In a changing job landscape, Brock University’s Co-op, Career and Experiential Education (CCEE) team is taking steps to aid students and recent graduates as they seek employment.

With industry trends shifting in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Event Co-ordinator Jillian Nero said the CCEE team is putting students’ needs first as they help to navigate a virtual employment landscape and zero in on in-demand careers.

“We understand the changes caused by the pandemic have resulted in drastic shifts to the way we work and relate to one another,” she said. “The CCEE team has been hard at work creating and distributing resources to help support students and recent graduates as they find employment while transitioning to a work-from-home environment, as well as supporting community partners/employers with their continued engagement and recruitment efforts on campus.”

Available resources the team has already prepared include curated information about the various government supports and subsidies available to students on a federal and provincial level, virtual drop-ins, appointments, mini workshops and webinars with employment experts on CareerZone, and specific information related to navigating recruitment via virtual career fairs — an area where Brock has been leading the charge since 2008.

Talent Partnership Consultant Lisa Kuiper said the fairs, which are also listed on CareerZone, are proving to be more useful than ever for students and employers who can’t meet face to face.

“Students and employers alike find the virtual career fairs convenient in that they can participate from anywhere as long as they have access to a computer and the internet,” said Kuiper. “The information provided by employers on the event platform provides students and graduates with the opportunity to learn more about the employer and their job opportunities in one spot and allows for time to prepare before the event.”

In addition to providing a safe space for students to interact with employers during the COVID-19 pandemic, Kuiper says the virtual fairs have had an added bonus.

“We have found that our virtual career fairs have accessibility features that provide greater access to employers for our diversity students,” she says. “As a result, we have seen an increase in the number of our diversity students accessing our virtual career fairs who would not normally participate in our in-person career fair events.”

While Brock’s co-op students are currently enjoying an above-average employment rate, they too are receiving support for the challenges that come with working remotely, uncertain housing needs and a changing labour market as the Co-op team continues to connect them with a variety of potential employer partners through new avenues.

“We realized the job search process would look very different for students seeking a fall co-op work term,” said Manager of Employer Relations and Special Initiatives Dana Tonus. “We wanted to introduce an innovative way for our students and employers to continue to engage despite anticipated changes to on-campus recruitment as a result of the pandemic. We reached out to some of our employer partners and asked if they would be willing to participate in virtual networking events with our students. Employer interest exceeded our expectations and many complimented Brock on being proactive on behalf of our students.”

With a dozen employers already signed up, each of the virtual events will follow a slightly different format.

“The goal is for our students to be able to get valuable career and job search advice while at the same time impressing prospective employers so that as the labour market rebounds, they will remember the calibre of Brock students and will think of them first for their hiring needs.”

Efforts have also been ramped up by the CCEE team to engage with employer partners virtually and maintain community relationships through an online version of the annual Rise and Shine event that connects students, faculty and staff with the local community.

“We are inviting the community to join us for a virtual cup of coffee and to talk about their current needs,” said Nero. “The CCEE team will be on hand to provide information about how Brock students can help solve some of those needs through co-op work terms, placements, in-class projects (via courses embedded with Experiential Education), new grad opportunities and more. The information gathered from the event will be used to help guide future discussions and drive immediate action where possible.”

With the array of online events bolstered by enhanced written resources on the CCEE website, Nero said Brock is continuing to lead the way when it comes to connecting students to employers and community members.

“In true collaborative fashion, we have co-branded some of these resources and shared them with our partners at Co-operative Education Work-Integrated Learning Canada (CEWIL) for distribution across the membership,” she said. “As a result, many of these resources are now supporting students across Canada, North America and the world.”

To learn more about the many resources available to students, employer partners and community members, visit the CCEE website.

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