Ninety-two percent of Westmont graduates from the class of 2020 have found a job or are attending graduate school (or planning to attend) despite a national economy sickened by the coronavirus.
“What an encouraging achievement for recent graduates in the midst of a pandemic,” says Paul Bradford, director of Westmont’s Career Opportunities and Vocational Exploration (COVE) Center and adjunct professor of economics and business. Last year, 97 percent of the class of 2019 were employed or enrolled in graduate school—or hoping to be enrolled. “2020 has been uncharted waters for everyone, especially students graduating into an ailing economy. This class has demonstrated their resilience and tenacity. Given the exponential level of uncertainty back in March, I expected to see employment rates 20-25 percent below average.”
“Our students rallied, responded and took action,” he says. “Also, the team at the COVE Career Center did everything from coordinating employment on campus to managing student career ambassadors, to creating podcasts and new partnerships with alumni and faculty. Our team has stepped up once again.”
Bradford and his staff have focused on helping students create a four-year plan to add clarity and reduce stress. “’What will I do after college?’ is one of the biggest stressors in a college student’s life,” Bradford says. “We give students a framework for pursuing what’s next by assembling useful content and building relationships. We help students understand how they’re wired with implications for their experience in college and then in the workplace. We encourage them to evaluate different majors, map out plans for at least two internships, teach them to communicate effectively and authentically through their resume and online profiles, and identify possible career paths and graduate schools.”
The pandemic forced the team at COVE Career Center to talk to students on Zoom and host virtual career events. In early March, they doubled their efforts to prepare seniors by expanding and promoting the Know Before You Go campaign, which includes a guidebook of resources, ideas and mindsets for students to adopt to overcome the challenges of a job market during a pandemic.
The COVE Career Center uses Handshake to connect students with local employers and internship opportunities.