The COVID-19 pandemic has created a vastly different employment environment, but the Lyon College Career Center wants students and recent graduates to know there are still volunteer and paid opportunities out there.
Looking for a job or internship?
About 350 employers responded to the National Association of Colleges and Employers’ (NACE) April survey regarding employment offers they had made before the pandemic. Castleberry said 59% are not revoking any offers, 22% are still considering revoking offers and 19% said they are revoking offers.
“That 59% is really good news, but that was the news at the end of April,” said Director of Career Services Annette Castleberry. “All of this is changing all the time, but unfortunately a ton of internships were just lost.
Hostint internship programs on-site is a challenge during the pandemic, she said. Companies have so many factors to consider, and they are having to wait day-by-day before they can make the call as to whether to cancel an internship altogether, go virtual or change the time frame or duration of the internship.
Most study abroad and teach abroad programs have also been canceled due to travel restrictions put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“It is a dicey time for students leaving college right now.”
What else can you do?
While the employment outlook is not the best, Castleberry said this is a time students can use to build their experiences, not only for their resumes but also to understand where they want to make an impact during and after college.
“My question for Lyon students is ‘What is your COVID-19 story going to be?’”
She advised that musically talented students could give nursing home residents a serenade on social media to help their overall mental health. Castleberry encourages students to get creative.
“We’ve had students doing things like this. One alum, Natalie Milligan, got together with other med students to gather and deliver personal protective equipment. That’s her COVID story.”
Service is a huge tenet of the educational experience at Lyon College, Castleberry said, and this time is an opportunity for students to serve their communities.
“You can make the world a better place. But also, in that process, you’re networking and making new connections in the industry or environment you hope to one day contribute to.”
She continued, “This is an opportunity. Doing all this stuff from home doesn’t feel great, but this shouldn’t be an end or stopping point to your career development.”
Students who volunteer during this time will be able to show employers and graduate schools that they are community- and career-minded and can adapt to changing environments, she said.
“That’s the big lesson and test for students.”
What if you need a paid opportunity?
While career development is a great way to spend this time, Castleberry acknowledged that many students just need money during the summer.
“I think right now it’s a little bit harder to find paid opportunities. That doesn’t mean they’re not out there.”
The career center has been helping students “search smarter” online.
“If you’re a business major using ‘business major’ in the search bar, that’s insanely general, so that’s not going to work.”
She continued, “You have to know a bit more about what specific areas you want to contribute to, whether that’s marketing or project management or something else.”
If students don’t have specific interests yet, Castleberry recommends they do some research online to clarify what areas of industry interests them.
“You have to be able to narrow it down a little bit before you start.”
She continued, “One great place to start is the career center’s Helpful Resources page, where students can explore career and educational paths using quick and easy online tools.”
For students concerned about the increased risk of infection associated with on-site experiences during the pandemic, she advises using the keyword “virtual” in job searches to find remote work opportunities.
“We’re also helping a lot of students utilize online search platforms like LinkedIn. It’s such a great tool, and we’re teaching students how to make connections with alumni and other professionals.”
One student was interested in patent law, Castleberry said, and the career center was able to find a couple of Lyon alumni working in patent law and connected the student with one of them.
“Those individual connections make all the difference in the world. That’s why it’s important to be in touch with your career center and your professors.”
How do you adapt during a pandemic?
Castleberry said the career center already does everything remotely over the summer and is planning on continuing virtual services into the fall semester to help Lyon students and alumni, no matter where they are.
“We’re doing individual appointments by phone, Zoom, Facetime and basically any platform we can use to work with students. We’re used to that because we have to work with a lot of pre-med students and alumni remotely anyway.”
Castleberry said the downtime caused by the coronavirus pandemic is forcing students to learn new skills that are attractive to employers.
“Companies and colleges are transitioning to online services, and some of that experience is going to stick around.”
She continued, “They want to recruit people who can manage day-to-day life in that world.”
Castleberry believes students will have a lot of new skills to tout on their resumes, whether they come from virtual summer experiences or from learning how to navigate Zoom and Google Hangouts for class.
“Those are technical hard skills that you can stick on your resume. Employers will see that and think ‘Okay, this is an applicant who can hack it in our office.’”
A Lyon student is helping Independence County residents in need keep their shelves stocked during the pandemic.
CREAR, the Latino outreach organization founded by Lyon senior José Balderas Jr., hosted a free produce pickup event on June 3 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Batesville. Volunteers were prepared to distribute free boxes of produce from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Despite the rain, volunteers handed out all 1,200 boxes of produce and impacted over 1,000 people in less than three hours, Balderas said. They supported two lanes of traffic in the church parking lot to assist everyone.
“We [hoped] to ease any burdens (food-wise) that community members may be facing.”
He said the event came together thanks to the collaboration of several organizations in Arkansas, including the Arkansas Food Bank, the Mexican Consulate in Little Rock, First Security Bank, the city of Batesville and St. Mary’s Catholic Church.
“We [were] really excited to make this event happen through the support and guidance of organizations and agencies across the state, especially during these difficult times.”
Balderas said nonprofit organizations in Arkansas were reporting that a low percentage of Latino households were visiting food pantries and banks due to the lack of information being put out in Spanish.
“While this event [was] open to all, we were approached by organizations across the state to specifically ensure we get information out in Spanish and address our local Latino community.”
The free produce event required no documentation in order for households to receive food.
“To date, this has been our biggest and most successful outreach event,” Balderas said, “and I am proud to say that, of those we impacted, roughly half were Latino households.”
CREAR was officially recognized by High Titular Consul Rodolfo Quilantán Arenas from the Mexican Consulate in Little Rock as a leading contributor to the support and well-being of the Latino community across the state of Arkansas.
“This recognition was an honor and a huge milestone for CREAR that will tremendously help us help our community by opening doors and resources,” Balderas said.
He will be in contact with the consulate to plan for a future visit, which will include an official signing of the partnership between the consulate and CREAR.
“I want to express my sincere thankfulness to all who were a part of this event,” Balderas said.
He concluded, “As I sat down at the end of the day to reflect on what all had occurred during the day’s events, the first thing to come to mind was [Lyon’s] motto ‘Perseverance conquers all, God willing.’ What a fitting phrase for a successful event during these difficult times.”
The President's Office sent the following letter from President W. Joseph King to students on June 2:
Lyon College is devoted to spiritual and ethical development in an inclusive residential community. We are committed to supporting students and producing graduates who will accept nothing less than a peaceable and just society. Our community will offer full-throated opposition and action when the circumstances require.
I have to admit that I did not watch the video of George Floyd’s death for several days. The facts, as reported, were horrific enough. However, when I finally did watch, I was distraught to see an unarmed man suffocated on a city street in broad daylight. It is a tragedy, but it is much, much worse. It is proof of how little progress our country has made in dismantling structural racism that has existed for centuries. I cannot even imagine how terrifying it must be for a person of color to witness this sort of brutality and abject injustice. Nevertheless, I can promise that I will stand with every one of you to oppose it.
I want you to know that we are all thinking about you and stand ready to support you in any way that you may need. Dean of Campus Life and Diversity Lai-Monté Hunter has organized our first virtual community conversation for our students to discuss recent events and express their thoughts and opinions. Please use this opportunity to continue the much-needed discussion about race relations and our next steps to move into a better tomorrow.
We are with you.
The following statement was issued by the College on June 4:
On June 3, Lyon College was notified of a video circulating that allegedly showed a prospective student using inappropriate and racist language.
The College has zero tolerance for this behavior, and it violates the College’s discrimination and harassment clause in the student handbook. At this time, the College is conducting an internal investigation. For legal and privacy reasons, we cannot share further details at this time.
The College is an inclusive residential community that strongly protects each member’s right to learn, teach, and grow without facing intolerance and injustice. We will continue to ensure that our students and college community feel safe by fostering an inclusive and respectful learning environment.
Lyon College’s senior art majors have adapted to remote learning by presenting their recently-completed thesis projects through online galleries.
Felicia Horn, Haven Johnson and Kayla Calhoun Medlin each designed an artist’s website to display their work, writing their own artist statement and bio.
Felicia’s project, Monophobia, explores the ramifications of ostracism. After being introduced to this issue in a psychology class, Felicia started to reflect on her own need to make connections with others, recognizing “repetitive negative patterns in her life as well as negative patterns in the lives of those around her.”
Her latest series of paintings explores these dark patterns that form within human relationships. Using acrylic and gouache paint as her medium, she creates melancholy yet surrealist imagery. Felicia draws on symbolism in addition to the people around her as inspiration. Her artwork has an impactful presence created by the large scale as well as the vibrant colors of the paintings.
Felicia graduated this spring with a double major in art and elementary education. She received the Book Award for Art at the 2020 honors convocation and had her work included in Lyon’s Juried Student Exhibition in 2019 and 2020. She has taught community classes at the Batesville Arts Council, has helped create several murals around Batesville and has served as vice president of the Art Student League. Horn is currently based near her hometown of Judsonia. She is working on building her portfolio and hopes to eventually pursue her master’s degree.
Haven’s project, The Math Behind Art, uses a series of paintings and sketches to highlight how an image’s composition can improve the work’s aesthetic qualities. Although the composition is more important than the subjects, Haven still produces beautiful, classically-styled and expressionistic bodies of work.
Her series has analyzed nearly 100 masterpieces to find commonalities between them. She found that despite drastically different subjects and styles they all shared almost the same compositions. By calculating the angles and focal points of those compositions, she has created her own masterpieces.
Haven graduated this spring with a double major in art and theatre.
Kayla’s project, Pretty Peculiar, is a collection of digital portraits that depict obscure creatures that are bizarre in appearance. When making these portraits, Kayla made them appear “painterly,” a quality that is normally associated with aesthetically pleasing subjects. By pairing this quality with subjects considered unappealing by some, she created a sense of visual conflict or “duality.”
Kalya used the “SKETCHBOOK” application by Autodesk on her Microsoft Surface Go. Digital painting is still relatively new to her. Most of her previous work featured watercolors. Kayla travels between Louisiana and Arkansas frequently, so she started practicing digital painting because it was easy to take with her. She enjoys the layering option the application offers and utilized it in all her pieces.
Kayla chose to paint these peculiar creatures in a “pretty” way, because she wanted her viewers to be able to visualize something ugly in a way that enables them to find beauty. She hopes viewers will adopt open minds and an eye for unusual beauty.
“I believe that if we can find beauty in even the most unattractive or boring things in life we will live with much more joy,” Kayla said. ”I also hope to share my love of all bizarre creatures and provide interesting information about them.”
Kayla grew up in Louisiana and moved to Arkansas to attend Lyon College. She presented her work in the annual Juried Student Exhibition in 2017. As part of her Advanced Studio Concepts course, she also exhibited work in the Imago Gallery at Fellowship Bible Church in Batesville. She has been commissioned for four independent murals in Louisiana and has served as president of the Kappa Pi Art Honors Society. She plans to pursue a degree in veterinary medicine or a doctoral degree in biology. While she is striving for a profession in the field of science, she will always consider herself an artist.
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