Career Services launches summer ‘camp’ to prepare students for new economic reality

Published May 20, 2020
Eckerd College student in professional attire at career fair

Arielle Lyons ’18, International Business major, took advantage of career fairs and workshops when she attended Eckerd. This summer, similar services will be offered to current students and recent graduates, virtually.

Eckerd College Associate Dean of Students and Director of Career Services Grant Bailey and his team dreamed of a true “Career Camp” at Eckerd College, where interested students would live in on-campus housing for a couple of weeks and participate in intensive group workshops to prepare them for life after graduation.

Then a pandemic closed the College’s campus for the last half of the Spring Semester and all of Summer Term.

“That idea got back-burnered as we spent the Spring Semester adjusting to the new reality of serving students from a distance,” Bailey explained.

While reimagining Career Services for remote delivery, the team devised a new virtual career camp set to begin June 1 and run throughout the month. Students, including recently graduated seniors, can register individually or as a group for three one-hour small group sessions per week with a Career Services team member.

During sign-up, students are asked to rate their confidence in their abilities from creating and tailoring job resumes to negotiating salary and benefits. Survey responses will be used to place individuals in groups with similar concerns and inform the focus of the group work over the four-week period.

“We’re trying to meet them where they are,” said Bianca Hernandez, career advisor. “That’s why we were so careful and thoughtful with the form. We want to be able to help the senior who has applied for 20 jobs and the first-year who has never written a cover letter. Placing them in like groups helps them help each other.”

Career Services team members will meet with their groups, and with individual students as needed, to help the groups progress toward personalized goals of job seeking, internship discovery and resume preparation, among other goals.

Though “Zoom fatigue,” the recent phenomenon of people tiring of videoconferencing, is looming, Bailey feels confident the new economic realities will spur healthy participation this summer.

“A good amount of students would always tell us that they just needed to get through the semester and research papers and exams before they could think about getting a career-advising appointment,” he said. “When COVID happened and the economic downturn, we found students very supportive of the idea of doing something together. Now that they’ve had classes online for half a semester, they are used to that learning environment and helping each other.”

In fact, the idea is so popular that Career Services is in talks to create a version to run during the month of July for alumni impacted by the current crisis.

Registration for the student camp will remain open to Eckerd students and 2020 graduates until May 26, and capacity is limited.