By Caitlin Krutsinger, Program and Partnerships Officer
Given the current economic environment, new university graduates face a steep road ahead.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, South Africa implemented one of the strictest lockdowns in the world. In response, businesses experienced low turnover rates, implemented layoffs, and halted hiring in the short term. More than half of South Africa’s leading graduate employers will reduce the number of graduate hires due to budget cuts and business capacity to adequately support and mentor young talent given the broader uncertainty and disruption in the market.
With young graduate unemployment already at 33 percent before lockdown, fewer graduate opportunities mean increased competition for graduate roles in the market. Those that are hiring are predominantly conducting all activities virtually — using virtual assessments, video interviews, and even digital problem-solving games.
What Does This Mean for Dell Young Leaders?
Our students work tremendously hard during their time at university, overcoming the odds to graduate career ready and primed to change the lives of their colleagues and communities. My role in the program is to do everything I can to equip our students to move on from university to a meaningful career, and this year that looks different than previous years. Given increased competition for graduate roles and the move to virtual recruiting, we are focused on ensuring that Dell Young Leaders have equal access to opportunities and are equipped to compete for remaining roles in the market. Here are three steps we’ve taken to support students.
Provide Access to Data to Support Virtual Job Search and Interviewing Processes
University campuses and residences closed with the national lockdown and students were given 48 hours to return home. Many Dell Young Leaders stay in environments with limited network and access to data is expensive. To ensure no student is disadvantaged in their job search, students can request data bundles to support their job applications, assessments, and video interview processes.
Equip Students With Skills to Support Their Virtual Job Search
Virtual interviews can pose a challenge for Dell Young Leaders — many stay in full households where it may be difficult to find a quiet space to take a video interview. To support students in practicing and preparing for such conversations, we’ve implemented an on-demand, digital tool through which students can submit recorded interviews in response to a series of pre-recorded questions from our alumni mentors. Our program team then provides feedback and coaching on student responses.
Connect Students With Alumni Networks
Compared to their peers, low-income students often lack access to professional networks and mentors that can guide career decision making. To address this, we are using virtual platforms to connect current students with alumni mentors. For example, our upcoming virtual Career Insights Series brings together alumni from specific degree programs to share insights on their respective career paths, share a day in the life at their employer, and provide guidance to students on how they can set themselves apart and prepare for the world of work.
We’ve curated some of our alumni insights and will be sharing them over the next few months as a series of career tips for graduate job seekers. Our alumni have overcome so much already, and their insights are invaluable. Stay tuned to hear more from our Dell Young Leaders alumni!