"I don't think I had a full grasp of what...

"I don't think I had a full grasp of what they offered," Sam Mitchko said of Stony Brook University's career center. Credit: Chris Ware

Arbaaz Khan, 22, Manorville

Hofstra University

Master's degree in accounting, May 2021

Arbaaz Khan.

Arbaaz Khan. Credit: Danielle Silverman

Khan considers himself lucky that he had a pre-pandemic, in-person internship at the accounting firm KPMG International Limited from January to March 2020 before his anticipated summerlong internship with Deloitte was reduced to two weeks on Zoom. Because recruitment by his accounting program occurred before the pandemic, he was offered a full-time position at KPMG for this fall, and he said he continued to benefit from career center connections virtually last summer.

Meanwhile, he continues to work virtually as a graduate assistant and is on the external relations team for the Center for Career Design & Development, which meant employer outreach for virtual job fairs.

He said the switch to virtual work "meant I had more time to study for the CPA exam because I've had a lot more time at home and no commute and not much socialization," he said.

He passed the last part of the exam in April.

Stephen Velez, 23, of Bayside

Adelphi University

Bachelor's degree in nursing, May 2020

Stephen Velez.

Stephen Velez. Credit: Bruce Gilbert

As a nursing student Velez believed he would have no trouble getting a job. But the COVID shutdown ended his 200 in-person, hands-on clinical experience. Instead, he had to write a research paper, which wasn’t a good substitute for learning from and making connections with staff who can hire nursing students. In addition, it suddenly became difficult to find a test site for the required National Council Licensure Examination.

But even passing that hurdle didn’t help because, Velez said, "Even though every hospital said they were short-staffed, they were all having a hiring freeze."

It was a trifecta of roadblocks that ended in mid-December, with a referral to a recruiter by Adelphi's Career Center. Velez was recommended to the Neonatal ICU unit of Mount Sinai Kravis Children's Hospital in Manhattan, where he’s been working the night shift ever since.

"I really had to be persistent and just keep telling myself that eventually I would find something," he said. "All of the struggle to find a job and the disappointment of not hearing back from certain hospitals was worth it to end up somewhere that I really do love."

Sam Mitchko, 22, of Kings Park

Stony Brook University

Bachelor's degrees in business management and psychology, May 2020

Sam Mitchko.

Sam Mitchko. Credit: Chris Ware

Mitchko decided on a career in human resources as a college sophomore, and he didn’t think he’d have any trouble getting a post-graduation job in the "hot'' market. "I would see 100 jobs or more listed per day. And then last mid-March it dropped to single-digit numbers," he said. "What should have been a short job search turned into seven months."

He sent out 300 unanswered applications. So he visited the Stony Brook Career Center. There, he was connected to the alumni network and got interview practice in time to meet with the nonprofit Family Residences and Essential Enterprises for an interview in June. In September he was hired full-time as a human resources information system assistant and was promoted to an HRIS specialist in February. He’s also working toward a master's degree in human resources at Stony Brook, with an anticipated May 2022 graduation.

He should have visited the career center sooner, he said.

"I don’t think I had a full grasp of what they offered. Since then, I’ve been part of three alumni events to help mentor undergrads," he said. "And while the job search during a pandemic was difficult, I learned the most important thing is persistence and not taking everything personally."

Harpreet Kaur, 20, of Floral Park

Nassau Community College

Associate degree in business administration, May 2021

Harpreet Kaur.

Harpreet Kaur. Credit: Danielle Silverman

Kaur had made herself known to her school's career center by attending on-campus job fairs in 2019. She also worked on campus as a tour guide and in an activity program, but lost both jobs during the shutdown. She began looking for another job last April.

"Sending in your resume hoping for an interview — or for any response — and not receiving anything back was very disheartening," she said.

When she still didn’t have a job to help pay for her fall semester, she was forced to withdraw from a required internship class. But the NCC Career Center promoted her resume anyway, and in November she was able to secure a paid, in-person internship with Blue Ocean Wealth Solutions in East Hills as an administrative assistant three days a week.

In the fall she’ll head to SUNY Old Westbury to pursue her bachelor’s.

John Armioia, 20, Oceanside

Molloy College

Bachelor's in business management, with minors in economics and finance, May 2022

John Armioia.

John Armioia. Credit: Newsday / Raychel Brightman

A year ago, Armioia was in the middle of internship interviews when his prospects dried up because of COVID. He sweated it out until October, when the career center at Molloy posted on Instagram about a six-month internship at Madison Square Garden as a student associate for the service and retention team. With the center's resume services and mock interview practice under his belt, Armioia said, he was able to get the paid internship. Not only does he now know what career path he wants to pursue, he said he wouldn’t have been able to have this experience if it hadn’t been virtual. In addition to working 40 hours a week for MSG, he took 16 course credits in the fall and spring semesters.

"I think if it was a fully in-person experience, it would be a lot harder because of the commute time," he said.

Austin Trejos, 22, of White Plains

Stony Brook University

Bachelor of science in business management with a specialization in finance, May 2020

Austin Trejos.

Austin Trejos. Credit: Ana Maria Salazar

Trejos thought he was headed to a Wall Street internship after making the second round of interviews last summer. But when the internship didn’t happen, his path was suddenly uncertain. The experience meant a new virtual approach to job searching, and he said the business and health care career counselors at SBU’s career center were a vital part of that. "They helped me with frequent one-on-one sessions and resume reviews for the many different applications I sent out."

After sending out over 100 applications for work and internships, Trejos got a fully remote contract job for Broadridge Financial Solutions. He’s also currently pursuing an MBA in health care management.