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Classroom to Careers: Ana’s COVID-19 Job Hunt

Like many Iowa State students, I have been looking forward to the end of this semester for quite some time now. I will be graduating with my Master’s Degree in Student Affairs, and after six continuous years as a college student, I am more than ready to start my first full-time job.  


While I had been casually looking for some time, toward the end of last semester I started seriously job searching. I have greatly enjoyed my job working with LAS Career Services, so I narrowed my search to Career Advisor positions at colleges and universities in multiple areas of the United States. My job search was going well. There were many jobs I was excited by and had applied to. While I hadn’t yet nailed down a job, I had multiple promising interviews, and I was feeling optimistic about receiving an offer prior to graduation.  


Then COVID-19 became a reality in the U.S. It started with rumors about what would happen on college campuses if members of the community were diagnosed with the virus. Shortly before leaving Ames for Spring Break, we were notified that classes would meet remotely for at least the two weeks following break. I had a couple interviews lined up over Spring Break. These still happened, but they ended with conversations about how no one was quite sure how the COVID-19 outbreak would affect the hiring of these positions and that they would stay in contact with updates. Shortly after these interviews, schools all over the country, including Iowa State, announced that both students and staff would operate remotely for the remainder of the semester. I started to receive notifications from schools that hiring for the positions I had applied for has been put on pause.  


This was, and still is, hard. There were multiple jobs I was super excited about, but now I am unsure about the future of these. I have questions about when these schools will start the hiring process again, what will interview processes look like with social distancing measures, and if it is a possibility that I will start a job remotely. There are also lots of questions about in what capacity will colleges and universities be operating next semester, and will these jobs even still exist in this new reality. Unfortunately, at this time no one knows the answers to these questions and it is out of my hands, so I have decided to focus on what I have control over.  


I think the biggest thing that has helped me has been adjusting my own mindset about what my first job will be. Our staff often talks about how your first job probably won’t be your perfect dream job, and that is okay. I think that is particularly important to remember now. We are operating in unprecedented times, and nothing is going according to plan. The best we can do right now is be adaptable and creative in our job searches.  


I am still actively job searching, but some of my strategies have changed. I am still keeping in contact with the individuals hiring for the positions I have previously applied for, but I have  also started broadening my search, both by position and location. With fewer jobs being posted now than previously, I am now applying for jobs at colleges and universities in departments beyond just career services and at schools and in locations that I previously would not have. In addition, I have started to look outside the higher education realm. I have been thinking about what industries are hiring now and how my skills could transfer to those. I have also taken this time to apply for jobs I think would be fun, but I would not have applied for previously because they are not directly related to the field I’m looking to work in long-term.  


If you are experiencing similar frustrations and changes in your job search, reach out to the LAS Career Services office at They are there to help you during this tricky time and have great resources!