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WNIJ's summary of news items around our state.

NIU's Online Career Fair Is Open To Anyone & Career Services Have Evolved Through COVID-19

Holmes Student Center at Northern Illinois University.

Northern Illinois University Career Services is holding a virtual career fair Wednesday open to NIU students as well as the public.

“Frankly, our employers really appreciate being able to connect with as many candidates as possible,” says Cathy Doederlein, director of internships and external relations at the Career Services department. She says they’ve retooled all of their programs and moved them online during the pandemic.

Historically, her department is seen as ‘resume helpers.’ They still help students build resumes, but she says COVID-19 has shown her they need to be much more. Thanks to the instability of the job market, she says they’ve seen a big uptick in students and recent grads coming for career counseling.

“Many of those students are August 2020, or December 2020 grads, and they're feeling very, very defeated and very anxious about the fact that they don't have a job yet," she said.

The mental health burden of the pandemic coupled with the financial stresses can be overwhelming. The unemployment rate for people 15-24 soared to over27% as the pandemic hit. It’s now resting at around 12.5%.

Doederlein says they’re also seeing alumni come to them asking about career shifts to meet the demands of the post-COVID economy.

“Often they're struggling with much more right now in terms of career identity, what career path is maybe going to be the best given some of the changes we've seen as far as trends of hiring," said Doederlein.

Some people are thinking about a career in health care or K-12 education. In fact, they’re holding a special education career fair soon as well, along with a government and social services fair.

NIU students and alumni have access to the department’s “Huskies Get Hired” platform, which Doederlein says helps them connect with companies for jobs and internships. The career fair typically attracts around 200 employers. To register for any of the career fairs, go to the Huskies Get Hired website right here.