The Center for Career and Professional Development has shifted their services to offer remote help to Lehigh students. The Virtual Career Lab helps students with their resumes, cover letters, jobs, internships, and interviews. (Isabella Cammisa/B&W Staff)

Virtual Career Lab offers internship guidance

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Since the pandemic began, buisnesses have been closing their doors and shifting to virtual practices. This shift has caused an increasing uncertainty of students’ summer internships — some of them have already been canceled

The Center for Career and Professional Development moved their entire line of services online, including the Career Lab and coaching sessions. 

Andrea Reger, a career coach for students in the College of Arts and Sciences, has been working with her colleagues to supply students with resources to help them make the most out of this summer. 

The center has recently launched two new resources that allow students to find remote work this summer. Parker Dewey and Paragon One are sites that help students find companies offering “micro-internships,” which are short-term remote assignments similar to what an intern would typically experience. 

Remote work is going to look drastically different across various industries, so the Career Center is focused on reshaping what “plan B” looks like for students, given the current circumstances.

“Plan B is going to be different,” Reger said. “It might not be another internship — maybe it’s focusing on identifying where some skill gaps are and how to work on that.”

The shift to remote learning brought new challenges for students and staff, making it harder to stay focused on professional development. 

Adrian Suarez, ‘22, is among those in limbo on their internship status. He attended the Virtual Career Lab twice and has made use of their resources. 

“I actually prefer virtual career services because of its convenience and user-friendliness while still exemplifying the student-centered culture of the Career Center,” Suarez said. 

He has taken the Career Center’s advice and said he is using his free time to develop new skills, think more about his personal passions and determine how he can tie those into his professional career. 

Through blog posts on hirelehigh.com, Instagram posts and resources on Handshake, the Career Center wants students to know that, while they may not have an internship this summer, there is crucial and valid work that can be completed in the meantime.  

“It can be taken as an opportunity to reflect on what your personal goals are, and fine-tune all of your documents to prepare for the next chapter,” said Reagan Sullivan, ‘20, an intern at the Career Center. 

The center has experienced a spike in their email services as more students search for guidance during this time. They have also seen companies adapt to the current circumstances in interesting ways, and the Career Center considers this a test of companies’ flexibility and students’ patience, Sullivan said. 

Reger said she has spoken with alumni about providing students with more support and has had active, informative conversations with alumni in the comments of the Career Center’s Instagram posts about student questions and concerns regarding work after the pandemic. 

She gathered from the alumni that employers will be looking to see how students sprung to action during this time of uncertainty. Alumni also shared insights on how to make the most of this situation — both with broad and industry-specific advice. 

Reger said she hopes that this will serve as a call-to-action for students, and she wants to continue answering questions in an informative and interactive way. 

Virtual Career Lab services end on the last day of class, however, virtual career coaching will still be available throughout the entire summer by appointment. 

Reger said she wants to provide students with as much support as possible and will personally offer drop-in coaching hours on Zoom for CAS students, in which they can ask any questions they may have. This includes help with deciding what to do with their time professionally, or looking over resumes and cover letters. 

Career coaches for engineering, business and graduate students will also be available for help. 

Reger said she encourages students to make the most out of this time and to take advantage of their services — located on Handshake — throughout the summer. 

“It doesn’t have to be a formal internship to be of value,” Reger said.

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