Tuesday, June 16, 2020
  Community, Alumni

By Maria Elena Hernandez

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – Changes and challenges for the Class of 2020 due to COVID-19 didn't end with commencement. Recent graduates are now headed into an uncertain job market.

To help counteract that downturn, the UTRGV Career Center is providing students with a number of tools to help in their job search.

"Right now, it is very tentative. There are some industries that are doing well, so usually it is looking like individuals that have degrees are faring a lot better than those individuals who did not,” said Lourdes Servantes, the UTRGV Career Center associate director.

More than 1.6 million people are unemployed in Texas, and more than 95,000 of those in the Rio Grande Valley, according to the Texas Labor Market Information website. And while Servantes

has seen a demand in the transportation, logistics and supply chain management industries, the pandemic has had an effect on just about all industries.

“One would think, 'Okay, the healthcare field should be doing well because of everything that's going on with them.' But it's only certain ones. …  Even some nurses in some areas are being furloughed because they weren't doing elective surgeries and things like that," she said.

There's a trickle-down effect from one industry to another, but overall, many unknowns exist, she said. So, to help keep students and alumni informed, UTRGV has virtual resources that can help reduce frustration and confusion during a job search.



Servantes said graduates can expect a job search in their field of study to take from nine months to a year. Before COVID-19, the anticipated range was six to nine months. It’s a delay, she said, but it’s not impossible to address.

UTRGV graduates can request access to see job listings on Handshake, an online career management system, and can schedule appointments with Career Center staff to get help with resumes and job interview preparation.

The office recently introduced virtual walk-in office hours via Zoom .

"Those are little 15-minute sessions where students can connect with us to ask us questions," she said.

In addition to those sessions, the Career Center has:



Servantes said job seekers could also connect with professional organizations and look for opportunities online using websites like LinkedIn.

“They have to be consistent. You can't go on one day out of the week and search for 10 minutes,” she said. “It almost becomes a full-time job to be looking for a full-time job.”

Servantes encourages students and graduates to keep at it and to be creative about job hunting.

“Students have to remember, as they're going through the job search, that they're not the only one. Each person has their own path they're going through, so it's not a one-size-fits-all when it comes to the job search,” she said.



While people are searching for a job, she recommends they build up their resume with virtual volunteering, learning new software and / or earning certifications.

"Just because you're already done with your classes, it doesn't mean that you're done learning," she said.

And in a world dealing with COVID-19, some lessons and changes could result in new careers.

“What I've noticed is that whenever there's a change in the economy, new opportunities sprout," Servantes said.

UTRGV and legacy alumni, as well as current university students, can learn more about the UTRGV Career Center at utrgv.edu/careercenter.


The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.

UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.