University Career Services is now offering seniors up to one year of assistance after graduation — a six-month extension from its normal duration — due to the pandemic.
This policy was implemented last year for the class of 2020 and was extended in the fall to the class of 2021.
Tierney Bates, interim executive director of University Career Services, said this decision was made because more students are leaving the University without jobs or internships because of the pandemic.
“We started for the class of 2020, in June of 2020,” Bates said. “Then school got shut down. So, my gut reaction was, ‘You know what, go ahead and extend ‘21 graduates services, because this is going to have a true two- to three-year impact on our economy and on our students.'”
Bates said he is considering offering this extension for future classes as well, due to the anticipated lasting economic impact of the pandemic.
This extension of career services includes student access to HeelMail and Handshake services for a full year after graduation. Through Handshake, students can find job and internship offerings and meet with UCS staff for advice and assistance. UCS has also offered more programming that specifically assists students with navigating the job market during the pandemic.
May 2020 graduate Will Buisson has been using the extended assistance from UCS to find a job. Buisson said he appreciates the extension.
“I think it is beneficial for UCS to increase the amount of time that you can use their service,” Buisson said. “It's definitely a great thing for them to reach out for an extra period of time because I know a lot of people are struggling right now.”
Buisson has been meeting with Bates for assistance, attending career fairs offered by UCS and using the Handshake platform.
Bates said while the technological transition to offering full-year services has been smooth, UCS has concerns that a significant wait time for students to meet with UCS will emerge.
“We’re still seeing a high demand for UCS, but we’re losing staff,” Bates said. “I've had staff who have left, or new job opportunities within UCS, so I'm actually down on staff. The University has not invested in us to say, ‘Let's give UCS some more staff. Let's promote what we're doing to address the gaps for the 2020 graduates and also prepare for the 2021 graduates.’”
Right now, the University is unable to add additional funding to the department.
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Amy Johnson said in a statement that the University is not able to add resources to most departments due to growing budget shortfalls. UNC announced in January that it would cut operating funds by 7.5 percent and personnel funds by 1.5 percent, for both this fiscal year and the next, to address its $100 million structural deficit.
Johnson said she will continue to work with departments on adjustments where possible, while still continuing to provide student support and learning opportunities.
But at this point in time, UCS still has the capacity to serve the student body.
“University Career Services still has the capacity to serve all graduates who qualify for their services,” Bates said in a statement. “To ensure the quickest service possible, we encourage all graduates to schedule an appointment with UCS via the Handshake platform.”
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