Lights, Camera, Interview!

CPP students learn to navigate virtual job hunts

By Jonathan Frias, Feb. 9, 2021

For recent graduates and current students finding their future jobs or internships during a pandemic, one adjustment to the job search has been mastering the art of the virtual interview.

Cal Poly Pomona’s Career Center has moved their services online and added specialized workshops that center around acing virtual interviews and finding jobs during a pandemic.

Alexis Tai, Career specialist and liaison to the College of Engineering, described the job search for students and graduates during the COVID-19 era as wide-ranging.

“Now the recruitment process looks so different because the interviews are definitely going to take place online,” said Tai. “Employers are constantly posting info sessions through Handshake that they are sending across multiple colleges; so it’ll be Cal Poly Pomona, Cal Baptist like UC Riverside and they’ll be targeting certain majors, so they’ll just tell people about their company and they’ll get a wider reach.”

Grace Johnson | The Poly Post

Handshake is a source that students can use by signing up with their campus email. Once a profile is created, students can receive and apply to job recommendations which best suit their experience. CPP campus jobs are listed on Handshake as well, so students have a variety of ways to connect.

Handshake currently lists more than 117,000 jobs, 30,000 internships and 3,000 fellowships. Additionally, there are over 1,000 job listings for campus employment.

The numerous job opportunities available right now may not reflect the struggle that California is facing with unemployment.

According to California’s December 2020 monthly labor force data, 1.67 million people or 8.8% of the state’s population is unemployed. Locally, in Los Angeles County, 521,600 people or 10.7% of the county’s population is unemployed. However, it is unlikely recent graduates are fully reflected in the data.

Alumnus Allan Tsai (’20, entrepreneurship) finished his last semester at CPP and started job hunting on Indeed, ZipRecruiter and Glassdoor, but quickly found that some jobs under marketing could be risky.

Tsai explained, “I mostly applied to marketing companies, but they were scams and multi-level marketing pyramid schemes that were disguised in certain job listings.”

Tsai was able to find one legitimate job with Ironfire Workspaces and he discussed the two-part interviewing process: a Zoom interview followed by an in-person interview at their facility.

“It’s actually pretty much the same because they’ll set it up for you and they’ll email you saying, ‘We just expect you to have your webcam on and be on time,’” Tsai said. “As for the interview questions they were pretty much the same as the regular in-person interview, so nothing changed; it was just virtual.”

As for any concerns about interviewing in person during the pandemic, Tsai emphasized that he just needs a job to pay off his student loans and is hoping Ironfire Workspaces hires him.

Tarek Itani, a fourth-year computer engineering student, discussed how he landed his first internship even though his in-person interview turned virtual the same week back in March 2020.

“I was kind of excited and disappointed,” Itani said. “Disappointed because I did want to see the facility. I mean part of the interview experience is seeing where you are going to work, so I feel like not having that portion of the interview experience you are going to walk into a job kind of blindly.”

Itani did express that a benefit of interviewing virtually is that ability to open the company’s website during the interview. However, he felt the questions were not altered much.

“I knew at the core the questions weren’t going to change,” Itani explained. “Those technical questions they were going to ask me were basically going to be the same, so that really didn’t faze me whether it was over the phone or in person.”

For more information about preparing for virtual interviews or job/internship searching, students and alumni can visit:

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