Career Centers Preparing Students to Succeed in Virtual Job Market
By Mark Kramer
In the “new normal,” University of Houston-Downtown students and recent graduates are entering a virtual job market. As they compete for positions, attention to the smallest details has become even more essential in making a good first impression with potential employers.
Among the biggest challenge facing Gator job seekers is adapting to Zoom and Skype video interviews that have become commonplace over the past five months. Fortunately, UHD’s Main Career Center and Marilyn Davies College of Business Career Center are helping in that transition.
“Sometimes, the little things help make a positive impact on hiring managers during virtual interviews,” said Kathy Knapp, Director of the Main Career Center. “The feedback we’ve received from employers is that virtual recruiting is the growing trend among companies. We encourage students to take advantage of the university’s resources to strengthen their knowledge of virtual meeting and productivity tools used by the industries to which they are applying.”
Knapp says students should practice several skills when preparing for a remote interview, especially interviewing through video.
“There is a tendency to look at the screen instead of looking directly at the camera,” she said. “It’s harder to convey confidence in a virtual interview, so the importance of posture, smiling, eye contact, and practice becomes even more critical.”
The Main Career Center’s services are available to all non-business majors, and Knapp encourages students to fine-tune their interviewing skills by taking part in mock interviews with one of the center’s career coaches.
“Students can always participate in a mock interview with a coach over the phone or by Zoom, and those options still exist,” she explained. “We now offer a mock interview module within our Jobs4Gators platform that students can access 24/7 to practice interviewing.”
According to Knapp, there are more than 50 pre-recorded mock interviews that career coaches and professionals created for general use or designed for specific jobs. The module also includes over 1,000 pre-recorded questions from which students may choose to build their own custom interviews. Students may also ask their coach to provide feedback.
For business majors, the Davies Career Center also offers virtual appointments to assist them in their job pursuits and successful interviews.
“We have resources such as Vault.com that allows students access to research, blogs, employer profiles and industry guides as well as additional full-time and internship listings nationwide,” said Brett Hobby, Davies Career Center Director. “In addition, we still offer mock interviews via phone or over Zoom and will go over tips that will make their virtual interview and follow-up meetings a success.”
Additionally, Hobby noted that every business major is required to take a Business Cornerstone course. Within this course, they are required to utilize a mock interview system that functions as a virtual interview platform.
“This virtual interview module is embedded within our job posting system, GatorHired,” he said. “This is an assignment they complete for a grade and allows them to really discover, learn and apply the different strategies needed to make a virtual interview a success. The module is available to them 24/7.”
Hobby noted that the Davies Career Center has offered a two-day mock interview event with actual employers each fall and spring for several years, which will be adjusting to a speed interviewing/networking event for Fall 2020 at a date to be announced. He also emphasized that the GatorHired system has about 591 jobs currently active which includes full-time, internships and even temporary and part-time jobs) as well as links to the Vault resource and the Houston Business Journal.
Knapp emphasized that employers are posting positions with the Main Career Center, including internships, in their Jobs4Gators system almost daily. Currently, there are more than 613 jobs posted. She added there are also have links to dozens of internships and job search websites on their webpage, under the Job/Internship Search tab.
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.
U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.