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You Asked, They Answered: Identifying Opportunities in Times of Change

The CCO reached out to our employer partners with some of the questions we’ve received from undergraduate and graduate students since the start of the pandemic. Read on to learn what our employer partners are saying!

Today we are focusing on how students can still find opportunities to continue to develop themselves professionally. Eli Lilly, GE, and PepsiCo chimed in on this topic to help you prepare to be a competitive candidate.

How could students use their current time most effectively? Will your industry be looking for specific ways that students are using their time?

Many students had to change their summer plans and scramble to find other opportunities to continue to grow and develop. One employer suggests that students should continue to focus on their schoolwork as well as find activities and organizations where they can show their passion and develop leadership skills. ‘Being able to balance not only your schoolwork, but other areas that are important to you shows employers that not only can you manage your time effectively, but that you have initiative.’

Daria Kowalinski from PepsiCo tells students to look for ways to increase their productivity and develop an innovative mindset. ‘This will help you as you transition into the workplace because you will be able to assist the organization in getting to the next level and increasing productivity.’

Daria goes on to remind students to look for ways that they can drive change. ‘This can be in your schoolwork, volunteering, or even campus organizations. Being able to share how and where you drove change will help you decide what to share in an interview.’ PepsiCo wants to see how new hires can use their work and passions to continue to better humanity. Start thinking about experiences where you can show your positive contributions!

What sorts of professional development activities would be good substitutes for the internship experience that students would have got?

There are still plenty of ways to develop during the time of social distancing. Alexis Cohen from Eli Lilly said, “Networking and interviewing with professionals in your field of interest via LinkedIn and setting up virtual shadow days  (if the company allows ) are excellent means of preparing for your future.” 

Along those same lines, Tony Denhart from GE reminds us, “When you reach out, really put some thought behind your message. Be sure to make the ask, ‘Can I have 5-10 minutes of your time to ask about working for [your] company or about [your] role?’”

By personalizing your ask you increase your chance of getting a response. Using LinkedIn’s various search tools you can identify people to connect with based on their company, location, school, and major…to name just a few. Remember to introduce yourself and let them know why you reached out. What on their profile stood out to you and what would you like to learn from them?

What advice for May 2020 graduates who have yet to find employment?

As you are looking for opportunities, Tony suggests stepping back and opening up your view for additional opportunities. This could mean looking at more locations, companies, or even jobs. ‘Give yourself more avenues to explore and don’t give up!’


The CCO would like to remind you of the resources we have available for you!

  • Be sure to login to your myCCO account! MyCCO is Purdue’s exclusive online job board where you can find jobs, internships, as well as information on career fairs and information sessions.

  • Don’t forget that the CCO offers Job Search Appointments where you can meet with a Career Coach to get assistance in your job/internship search. Schedule an appointment via BoilerConnect.

  • Check out the CCO Calendar for information sessions and other ways to get connected with employers!

  • Connect with us on social media to get additional information on opportunities and resources to assist you in your professional journey. We’re on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Wix!

Questions: email or call 765-494-3981.

The Center for Career Opportunities would like to thank our 21stCentury Partners for taking the time to answer our questions, especially Eli Lilly, General Electric and PepsiCo. To see a list of our 21stCentury Partners click here.

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