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Senior finds ways to complete college, apply for jobs amid COVID-19 disruptions

Rachel in graduation cap and gown

The transition from attending class on campus to logging into a virtual classroom has been one of many challenges York College of Pennsylvania students are facing during the COVID-19 outbreak. For Rachel Barlow ’20, it required her to get extra creative with her resources. When she sits down at her desktop computer, which does not have a webcam, Rachel must prop her cellphone on top of the screen so she can participate in Zoom classrooms. “It wasn’t easy at first,” she says, “but it’s one thing I was able to figure out.”

Being resourceful with the tools she has at home is just one aspect of Rachel’s routine that has changed. The Entrepreneurship and Innovation major is also getting ready to graduate. “Figuring out how to participate in online classes and complete work isn’t so bad,” Rachel says. “Applying for jobs is another thing.”

Finding her routine

Rachel has found she works best when she gives herself structure, and while she’s lost much of that since being at home, she’s trying to give herself a routine. “Waking up 30 minutes before a class wasn’t working for me,” she says. “Now I’m trying to wake up, get ready, even though I’m not going anywhere, and give myself time to settle in.”

While that routine includes classes, it also involves sending her résumé out to prospective employers. With the goal to work on either a production design or marketing team, Rachel for a remote job where she doesn’t have to worry about exposure to COVID-19. Some employers are offering that, Rachel says, but she’s not far enough into the process to know how many opportunities like that may exist for her.

Making a digital first impression

Rachel did participate in York College’s Virtual Career Fair and even heard from a few prospects who saw her résumé and portfolio of design work. It’s not how she expected to find a career, she says, but she’s doing her best to adapt to online interviews and leaving a digital first impression.

Support from her professors has helped Rachel feel optimistic about the process, she says. Many York College faculty members have told Rachel and others in her graduating class the value they would bring employers, and it has boosted Rachel’s confidence as she applies for jobs.

“Everyone has been incredibly encouraging,” she says. “No one expected to be in this position when we started the school year. As we end it, in a very different way than we ever imagined, we’re all working hard to end on a positive note.”