Mercer tells students to remain positive about career prospects amid pandemic


Maureen Sweatman, executive director of Mercer's Center for Career and Professional Development

With news of a tanking economy, surging unemployment, and mass layoffs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it may seem like a tough time for Mercer students who are graduating or looking for summer opportunities. However, the University’s Center for Career and Professional Development  is giving students reasons for optimism.

Maureen Sweatman, the executive director of the CCPD, says that all students intending to plan their career path should know what exactly they are looking for in order for career consultants to best work with them, be it looking for an internship, an entry-level job, or anything other specific needs. 

“You got to know what kind of job you’re going after, and then you have to create your target list of employers that you’re interested in and begin the networking process while also making sure that you have your resume ready to go for that target job,” she said.

Sweatman also says that networking is more important than ever in the era of social distancing. Even before the pandemic, networking on online spaces had been on the rise.

“A lot of that networking already, and particularly now, is happening on LinkedIn, and in virtual spaces,” Sweatman said, “So it’s really important that they have a LinkedIn presence.”

Sweatman also suggests the wise use of down time. Engaging in some type of learning or development of career or personal skills is strongly recommended. These can include things like learning about workplace diversity, time management skills and presentation skills. She also says that the CCPD is offering a career and professional development course over the summer. 

Alumni, especially recent graduates, always have access to the CCPD’s resources. Sweatman said that the CCPD is conducting a calling campaign to help graduates navigate through the crisis.

“Unless an event or an offering is for a particular group of students, which it almost never is, alumni are able to participate in all of our events and offerings,” Sweatman said. “As long as they’ve activated their Handshake account while they were a student, they maintain access to their Handshake account. If they didn’t do that step before they graduate, they can request an alumni version of the account.”

Sweatman, along with the rest of the CCPD staff, is hopeful that students are able to use this time to strengthen their career prospects.