Q&A: Susan Vinson, Career Services

Susan Vinson
Working from home. Courtesy photo

How has work in Career Services changed since remote operations began at UW Bothell? Susan Vinson, employer relations manager, answers a few questions from Sean Park.

Q. What would you normally be doing now and where?

A. I would be in full swing finishing up plans for autumn quarter. By now, we would be ready to open registrations for employers who would like to attend the all-industries fair and the tech and engineering fair or who would like to conduct on-campus interviews.

But at this point, almost everything regarding Career Services is still in the planning phase. We are waiting until the final word from the University in July as to how autumn quarter will take shape, and we will then adjust our plans accordingly.

We have already decided that the career fairs in the fall will be virtual regardless of what stage of the pandemic we’re in, because we don’t foresee that an event with that many people in one small space will be allowed. This has all been a big balancing act with both the University and some employers still unsure where we will stand in the fall. Some of the larger employers have indicated they may not return to their offices until the end of the year, so that also informs our decision to schedule virtual fairs.

Q. What are you trying to work on today?

A. Today, I’m working to wrap of the spring fair, refunding those who couldn’t participate in one form or another. I’m also trying to figure out what all we will need to do for a virtual fair and looking at new platforms.

Q. What adjustments have you made to fulfill your work responsibilities?

A. Lots of Zoom and Skype conversations, both with employers and internal staff. We are communicating more with the employers. We’re asking if they’re currently hiring. What positions are they hiring for? What are their plans for the upcoming recruiting season?

In the past, we’ve pretty much known which employers would be participating in the career fairs. Our focus is usually how we can get more employers at the career fair. But this year we’re still in the phase of putting together the list of employers who are attending. The good news is a lot of them are still interested in recruiting students, so we’re fine that we’re behind where we normally would be, knowing our students will have opportunities.

I’m also trying to figure out ways to engage employers virtually. During spring quarter, we weren’t able to engage in on-campus activities such as in-person interviews, tabling and information sessions, and we don’t anticipate being able to in the fall either.

Q. What are you doing to care for yourself or for others?

A. Being able to work from home and not commuting has allowed me to have more time to get out and exercise. A big adjustment has been helping my kids with their schoolwork, seeing that they’re basically being homeschooled right now. I try to make sure that they stay on track and get away from the computer screen a little bit every day.

Q. Do you have a change of perspective to share?

A. Certainly never take anything for granted. There are so many basic things in life — in general and in work — that we take for granted every day. I’ve been thinking a lot about that.

For example, at work it’s a given that I interact with my colleagues and students on a daily basis. All of a sudden, we went virtual, and there has been no in-person connection. That transition has been very difficult for me.

Q. What other thoughts or feelings do you want to share?

A. We are very fortunate that UW Bothell students and staff have been resilient.

Our student staff has really contributed and helped us this year. With their input and advice, we started using Instagram to reach students. We give them some content, but they create and design the posts for us. We approve the posts, of course, but they have really taken charge. They give us advice on what is of interest to students and how to engage them on social media. I feel very blessed to work with such a great group of people.

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