Collat grads offer advice on looking for and landing jobs during a pandemic

With so much news about job loss and business closings during the global pandemic, many students fear businesses aren’t hiring new employees or interns.Andreia Stechman

But many Collat grads have proved that just isn’t true, using the school’s career center resources, faculty and staff, and student organizations to land their dream jobs.

Andreia Stechmann, associate director of employee engagement in the Collat Career Center, says that jobs and internships are available for high-achieving students who seek out career opportunities.

“While some industries have been more affected than others, we are encouraged by the increase in hiring activity compared to the beginning of the pandemic,” says Stechmann. “Employers are reaching out to us and looking to engage and recruit our students. New jobs are being posted on Handshake daily.”

Stechmann says students who remain vigilant and work the school’s resources land incredible opportunities. These students use the online hiring platform Handshake and the business career fairs to build relationships with employers and remain top-of-mind when opportunities arise.

“As opportunities continue to be available for students, we encourage students to remain focused on preparation, to attend career-focused events like the Career Fair, and to take the initiative to apply for these new opportunities,” she says.

To find out how, we asked three business alumni and one current student to share how they secured employment during a pandemic and to offer advice to job-seeking students.

Thuy Tran

Thuy Tran

Graduated Summer 2020, B.S. in Finance
Financial Development Program Analyst with Regions

Collat: What is your title and what do you do?
Tran: I’m a financial analyst. I help prepare periodic reports/processes for the team and assist different lines of business around the bank with guidance on Funds Transfer Pricing’s profitability metrics. I also have a lot of opportunities to get involved in different assignments and cross-functional projects focused on analyzing financial data to add value and maximize our shareholder’s wealth.

C: How did you learn about the position?
T: During my time at UAB, I served as portfolio manager for the UAB Green & Gold Fund. We had guests who are leaders and experienced professionals from different financial institutions. That was when I connected with my program manager, who recruited me directly for my current position.

C: What steps were involved in the selection process?
T: I applied online through the Regions career website and attended networking events with my employer. I had a phone screening as my first interview. I had coffee with my program manager and office shadowed for my second interview. I then had a final interview round when I was hired. I connected on LinkedIn with everyone I met through the interview process, and I proactively sent them thank-you letters the day after any meetings.

C: Who helped you during the job search process?
T: My finance professor, Dr. Ryan Davis, sent in a professional recommendation for me. Also, my finance professor and Green & Gold Fund faculty mentor, Daniel Sanabria, helped me prepare for my interview.

C: What advice do you have for students looking for a job after graduation?
T: The two pieces of advice I would give to students are (1) to be prepared but always be yourself, and (2) to be curious and ask lot of questions.


Markell Jones

Markell Jones

Graduated Fall 2020, B.S. in Industrial Distribution
Management and Sales Trainee with Hojoca Corporation

Collat: What is your title and what do you do?
Jones: I am in the Hajoca Corporations Management and Sales training program. It is a four-year program that will take me through each facet of the company, from shipping and receiving orders to inside and outside sales. After four years, management will assign me my own profit center to manage and run, which is my end goal. The profit center manager needs to know how to do everything, and this is how managers train for the position.

C: How did you learn about the position?
J: Through Handshake. It was super easy to apply and use. Very detailed. It even let me know my application was completed and reviewed!

C: What steps were involved in the selection process?
J: I first applied online and met with the regional recruiter. I was introduced to and interviewed by the regional director. Then COVID-19 struck, and I completed a phone interview. I also had to take a reading, math and language exam. I then met with the southeast regional manager, and I was offered the job.

C: What advice do you have for students looking for a job after graduation?
J: Really reach for the stars and push yourself to the limit! Even if you think the position is out of reach and in your field, give it a shot, because you never know how much a difference you can make. You may be the new idea they are looking for!


Joy Samarah

Joy Samarah

Graduated Spring 2020, B.S. in Marketing
Recruitment Strategy Consultant with Encompass Health

Collat: What is your title and what do you do?
Samarah: I work as a recruitment strategy consultant. I create recruitment marketing for new hospitals. I am responsible for setting various marketing/advertising methods to help promote new hospital openings. This could consist of coordinating billboards, setting up numerous ads on multiple platforms, posting to social media and sending out email blasts.

C: How did you learn about the position?
S: I came across the opening when I was scrolling through LinkedIn Jobs. I then applied via Handshake.

C: What steps were involved in the selection process?
S: Once I came across this job, I applied online and received a call a few days later from an [Encompass Health] office recruiter. After introducing myself and answering a few questions - as well as asking a few - I was given next steps to the interview process. This consisted of a video interview in which I recorded myself answering five questions. After submitting the interview, I landed an interview with the director of talent strategy operations, who is now my supervisor. This then led to my final interview with the vice president of talent acquisition and a few other members of the talent acquisition team. Two days later I was contacted with a job offer.

C: Who helped you during the job search process?
S: Collat has given me a great support system. I was in contact with the Collat Career Center’s Amber Anderson throughout the summer seeking personal and professional advice. She helped me revamp my resume and recommended numerous companies to seek roles in. Andreia Stechmann guided me with interview attire and overall boosted my self-esteem for my interview with Encompass Health. She’s the person I’d go to whenever I felt discouraged!

C: What advice do you have for other students looking for a job after graduation?
S: Don’t give up! I want to encourage you to not lose hope, even if it feels impossible. The right job will come at the right time. Here are some tips I think can help anyone land their next career opportunity:

  • Review your resume. Set an appointment with the Collat Career Center to ensure that your resume is top-notch.
  • Apply to jobs often. Continue to search jobs on websites such as LinkedIn, Handshake and Indeed. Look up companies that interest you and check to see if they are hiring.
  • Contact the hiring manager. After you’ve applied to a job, send the hiring manager an email including your cover letter/resume. Restate your interest as well as why you would make a good fit!

Gavin Loague

Gavin Loague

Junior majoring in Industrial Distribution
Will intern with GE Technology Summer 2021

Collat: Tell us about the internship. What will you be doing?
Loague: I will be a Commercial Leadership Program Intern (CLPI) for GE Healthcare this summer. This internship is meant to prepare students for a full-time role in GE Healthcare’s management training program. As a CLPI, my responsibilities will include marketing research, interpreting sales data, and product innovation.

C: How did you hear about the internship?
L: During a virtual career fair when I got the chance to “interview” one of the recruiters. I asked questions about the position and what it would mean for me. He sold me.

C: What steps were involved in the selection process?
L: This was the first internship I applied for that required multiple rounds of interviews. There was also the traditional online application.

C: Who helped you during the internship search process?
L: I probably never would have applied if it weren’t for my ID advisor, Mrs. Kristen Craig, and my ID professor, Dr. Thomas DeCarlo. They really helped push me to try to reach my full potential. I don’t think I would have made it without the help of the Collat Career Center’s Lisa Aaron and Andreia Stechmann. They encouraged me throughout the entire interview process.

C: What advice do you have for other students seeking an internship?
L: Apply for everything! There are tons of positions out there for every role imaginable. Don’t be scared to take a risk and apply for things that may seem out of reach. You know how valuable you are, and it’s up to you to show that to employers. You can only do that if you are in front of them.