The Center for Life Beyond Reed is operating at full steam online.
The Center for Life Beyond Reed is operating at full steam online.

How To Find a Job in a Pandemic? Ask the Center for Life Beyond Reed

Jobseekers need not despair; use the time in quarantine to get ready for the recovery.

By Katie Pelletier ’03 | April 30, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is a public-health crisis wrapped in an economic disaster. For the Class of ’20, the prospect of looking for a job is daunting, to say the least. So what can be done? 

Whether you’re a senior or first-year student, the Center for Life Beyond Reed is a good place to start. 

Although Prexy is temporarily closed, CLBR is open. They’ve moved their operations online and have been helping students do some amazing things in recent weeks. They’re connecting seniors and recent grads to alumni in their fields of interest (also known as the communities of purpose). They made several grants aimed at helping Reedies get virtual experience in the non-profit world (students have recently landed internships at OHSU, Sanctuary One, Gay Lesbian Archives of Pacific NW, and the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon). They’re offering no-appointment services like review of your documents and online presence. Seniors and recent grads are guaranteed responses within 24 hours. 

Knowing CLBR to be a reliable resource, I talked with their intrepid team of advisors and asked them to share some advice. Here are their tips for forging ahead. 

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First, don’t despair.

There are more opportunities than it might appear. CLBR is approving 30-35 employers a day in Handshake, Reed’s one-stop online database for jobs, internships, and opportunities. There are currently over 500 internships posted there. Whether you are finishing your final year or in the midst of your college years, take action now. Think creatively, and don’t put off pursuing summer opportunities.

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Just ask.

One of my favorite tips for students is to just ask!” says Hayden Todd, career and fellowships advisor. “The answer will always be no if you do not ask first. This applies to reaching out to alumni for an informational interview, contacting a company about internships, or simply asking CLBR staff for assistance.”

She recently got an email from a student who couldn’t work at their on-campus position due to COVID-19. “In our meeting we discussed their interests, which included working with a nonprofit.” This meant that the Summer Internship Award was a possibility, but the student was concerned about not having any immediate leads for internships. Hayden encouraged them to contact alumni who work at local nonprofits in their area of interest, as well as contacting local nonprofits directly. The strategy paid off. Last week, they received an award to work remotely with a nonprofit in Portland to support the hiring process for their new executive director and support the interim director with daily administrative needs. The opportunity offers the potential for this student to learn a great deal about managing a nonprofit and to build valuable professional connections.

“This is a great example of the awesome things that can come out of sending a simple email!” Hayden says. 

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Yes, a simple email is all it takes.

CLBR staff are focused on lowering barriers of entry. If you are a student who doesn’t know where to start, just send an email to saying “I need help.” Advisors will take it from there. Alice Harra, director of CLBR, notes that one of the hardest things for a student is to imagine what they want to do. It’s entirely normal. They will meet students wherever they are—whether that is someone armed with a solid resumé who needs to pivot after their summer job evaporated, or a senior who hasn’t even begun to think about what they want to do. Send an email and let the team know that you’d like to get started. If you have documents prepared, be ready to share them in an editable form for collaboration, whatever shape they are in. 

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Update your LinkedIn profile.

Recruiters have gone online—and where they spend their time is LinkedIn. Having a tuned-up LinkedIn profile is as important these days as having a well-written resumé. CLBR offers expert advice in optimizing this tool, including how to search, stay active, and, crucially, how to tap into the global Reed alumni network, an extraordinary group of grads who want to help Reedies get a good start. 

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Use the Reed Network.

B Hunter, assistant director of CLBR, says, “never has there been a better time to use two key tools in concert. First, use the Reed Alumni directory to find alums both in your major and/or who have job titles to which you aspire. When you get that list together, jump over to LinkedIn to connect, and reach out to the alums through the LinkedIn mail function. Your community is so much closer that you imagine, just use those to steps to begin building out your Reed community!”

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Attend Save Our Summers on May 6!

Summers are a critical part of the college experience. Even if your lab experiences are cancelled, research opportunities are hard to come by, and travel plans are dashed, check out this event. The panel includes CLBR staff, Prof. Suzy Renn [biology], and Don Asher ’83, an award-winning author of more than a dozen books about finding your career, getting into grad school, and getting promoted. The event will help you with concrete ideas, tips, and strategies to make the Summer of 2020 not only count, but give you an edge. The event will be held over Zoom. (RSVP in Handshake for the link to join the event—and note that spots are limited.)

The Center For Life Beyond Reed won’t let the coronavirus throw them off their game, and you shouldn’t either. CLBR recently welcomed a new advisor, Julia Burrows, whose specialty is in supporting underrepresented students, especially in communities of science, healthcare, technology, and sustainable life on earth. Julia holds a PhD in marine science & conservation, and joins a team of advisors who bring a diverse and deep well of knowledge from a variety of fields to help students plot their paths and get a foothold. 

In these uncertain times, many career opportunities will open up within professional communities which further the cure of illness, sustainable life on earth, arts and expression, pushing the boundaries of science, technology and innovation, civil living, socially responsible investing, and other purposeful work.   

So be ready.

Tags: Alumni, Life Beyond Reed, Covid-19