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At the Tufts Career Center, Chris Di Fronzo advises Tufts students pursuing careers in the financial industry. In wake of the global health crisis, Di Fronzo now finds himself offering guidance remotely and helping students to navigate a new reality of virtual internships, remote work, and alternative paths to their original plans. Unsurprisingly, recruitment and hiring look different amid the pandemic, and students are seeking additional expertise and support from the Tufts Career Center.

To date, one-on-one appointments are “business as usual,” other than taking place via Zoom, said Di Fronzo. He has, though, seen an increased demand for events, seminars, and workshops. With many internships shortened and nearly all held virtually, he suspects that students have more time to take advantage of upskilling and professional development.

For those whose summer plans have changed, the Tufts Career Center pivoted to offer virtual work experiences in consulting and finance. Students can now gain real-world skills and connect with top companies like Citi, Deloitte, and JPMorgan for free and at their own pace. The assignments are designed to be comparable to those given to an intern or first-year employee, and hiring managers have the opportunity review them—and reach out—if they like what they see.

Feedback from students thus far has been overwhelmingly positive as Di Fronzo has been encouraging advisees to rethink this summer through the lens of “choose-your-adventure.” By combining multiple freelance projects, short-term work experiences, and virtual internships, students can showcase their adaptability and resiliency in ways that are highly appealing to future employers. “Yeah, you might do three things that last four weeks each, but when you put it together, you’ve got a great experience,” he said.

Even so, Di Fronzo noted that the finance industry has not been nearly as affected by COVID-19 as others, like hospitality and retail. Nonprofit and government internships have also suffered disproportionately because much of the work cannot be completed remotely. He attributed the finance industry’s good fortune to the fact that companies often hire a year or more out and are only likely to make cuts to their internship programs “if there’s a deep enough recession that the size of the entire company needs to shrink.”

For those starting their internships or new jobs virtually, he recommended connecting via Zoom with their managers and cohort as early possible. Even though Slack or email can be highly efficient ways to communicate, Di Fronzo emphasized that they do not help develop the same personal connections.

Building relationships with alumni is also important for students, said Di Fronzo. “I am always impressed by the many alumni who step forward to mentor, share job opportunities, and hire Tufts students.  Their involvement is so important, and the students are always eager to connect with Jumbos in the industry.”