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Careers issues during the Covid-19 crisis

Regularly updated information, advice, tips and news from Careers and Placements to help you with your next steps during an uncertain time.

What do you actually do - if you're graduating in a global pandemic?! podcast

Recorded during the lockdown, Tom Banham, Director of Employability and Careers at the University of York, and Kate Morris, Careers Consultant, discuss what it's going to be like for graduates entering the job market in 2020. They look at the effect of previous recessions on the job market, what might be different this time, and make some practical suggestions for you.

Official updates and useful resources

What does the current situation mean for you?

Here are some common questions and answers about the situation.

If you have a question, send it to us via Careers Gateway, or Facebook.

Employers and recruitment

We're continuing to monitor the jobs market and check with employers about their recruitment plans during the crisis. We'll keep you up to date through this page with what we find out. Many employers are considering their recruitment needs in the current circumstances; some have had to cut back but some are some still recruiting to internships, placement years and graduate roles.

Some of the actions taken by those employers still recruiting include:

  • online recruitment and selection processes 
  • shortened versions of summer internships with later start dates and/or virtual internships working remotely
  • online staff inductions 
  • later start dates for placement years

Job vacancies and graduate recruitment

While we'll try to keep you abreast of where jobs are still being advertised, we're not going to be able to list them all here, but will highlight some employers and jobs sites with their latest news. 

Job search and applications

  • Keep checking job vacancy sites, but double-check adverts. If they seem to have been added before the crisis and make no reference to it, contact the employer to ask if the vacancy is still live
  • Check individual employer websites for announcements about their recruitment status. Some will have statements about whether they have suspended or amended their recruitment cycle
  • Prepare for these pandemic job interview questions - LinkedIn article and try our Covid-19 self-reflection practice interview on Shortlist.Me (register with your York email)
  • NextStepSupport - a new resource with articles and webinars from university careers services and graduate employers
  • The Open University has a free online course, Just graduated, what next? which includes looking for work, and the transition to the workplace (including working remotely).
  • See the Resources section below for help with your CV, interview practice, online tests and more.

What support is there after I've completed my course?

  • We are still offering careers advice appointments via Google Meet - these will be available throughout summer term and summer vacation.  Book your appointment via Careers Gateway, as usual and see the instructions in your confirmation email.  
  • We also have a life-long commitment to our graduates, so you'll still be able to use most of our services, including access to appointments after your course has finished. Have a look at our Alumni web page for further information. 
  • Please see emails from us for further details about careers support in the future, particularly your access to our new platform Handshake (from summer 2020).
  • See the page for final year students for additional information and the Next Steps Planner.

What resources will help me?

We have invested in some great online tools to help you find out about working life as a graduate, and be your best in your application and the recruitment process.

  •  podcast series - explore what's involved in different jobs, the skills you need, and tips for your career planning
  • York Profiles and Mentors - find out what graduates from your department have ended up doing, ask them a question, or even get some one-to-one mentoring
  • CareerSet - CV feedback; this tool will rate your CV based on language, content, formatting and impact, and provide some suggestions for improvement. Use your university log-in, and see our  page to find out more.
  • Shortlist.Me - practice interviews; register with your university email and try out some mock interviews. You'll get experience of popular questions, and can watch yourself back and try again before the real thing. Read more on the  page.
  •  - access practice tests with AssessmentDay and Profiling for Success, so you are better prepared and more confident for the online assessment part of job applications.
  • A variety of resources and online activities have replaced our usual on-campus events programme over summer term. You can view the recordings of some sessions on the  page.

Our regular emails aim to keep you up to date and suggest resources and activities to help you with your career plans.

Our team are available for questions and appointments. Send us a message via Careers Gateway or FB Messenger. Book careers advice appointments in Careers Gateway and you'll receive a Google Meet invite at your appointment time.

Virtual internships

Virtual internships are those projects that can be completed remotely from an office or home location without direct regular face to face supervision from a supervisor. They offer the opportunity to gain valuable work experience at a time where other opportunities may have been removed or withdrawn.  It’s likely that you’d have regular online meetings with your supervisor to keep them updated on your work and need to be proactive to manage your time effectively without regular supervision.

  • The Student Internship Bureau still have a few virtual internships for summer 2020 live on Careers Gateway, further information is also available on the SIB web pages and the Padlet.
  • Handshake have written a useful blog about making the most of a remote internship., and there are more useful tips on the LSE blog, Making the most of your virtual experience.
  • For virtual work experience (unpaid) you might want to consider Inside Sherpa. Their programmes consist of resources and tasks designed to simulate real-world experience, and help you build your commercial awareness; they are free to use, cover a range of job sectors including law, accounting, finance, tech consulting, marketing and engineering, and are designed and endorsed by leading companies.
  • Bright Network together with some leading employers are offering a 3 day Internship Experience UK, from the end of June, as an alternative to workplace-based internships. Online sessions and simulated assignments will give you a taste of what it is like to work in one of six sectors (and something you can add to your CV). This programme is open to students and recent graduates. Application deadlines are from 24 June. (There is also an option to apply to do the recorded, non live version of this internship experience after the live programme has finished.)

See TargetJobs article on what you can do if your internship is cancelled. This includes the advice that you shouldn't worry about this - employers are going to understand why you could not get work experience in summer 2020.

Alternative experience

  • There may be other temporary essential work you could consider. Farming, food production, supply, retail and care work are areas that may apply. These jobs might not be quite the internship you were hoping for, but will still develop skills and show commitment and adaptability.
  • Could you generate your own work experience opportunity? Could you create a website, a non-profit organisation or a new online community? Do you have a passion that you would like to explore and share with others? For example, if you enjoy a particular craft, could you create a website about this and start keeping a daily blog or vlog about your activities?
  • If you are interested in green initiatives you could consider creating a virtual community with friends or neighbours to record and share ways in which you are going to boost recycling and composting in your area? Could you start up a new podcast about this?
  • Try to think of something you would like to improve or change in both your own life and the lives of those around you and new digital skills that you would like to explore and develop.
  • If you would like support with creating a business plan check out our Start Up Guide. You can also book virtual enterprise consultations via Careers Gateway.

Will my placement year be affected?

If you have already secured a placement, this is an understandable concern. Some employers are cancelling short-term employment including internships and placement years, in order to concentrate on protecting permanent jobs; however others are aiming to carry on with their recruitment as planned but may offer a slightly later start date.

  • There may be some sectors where recruitment could be affected, in which case they may withdraw some roles and your prospective placement employer would contact you directly to notify you of this.
  • If they do contact you with an update on your placement offer and you have any questions about the content of the communication, please contact your relevant University Placement Coordinator.  
  • Should your placement get cancelled there is still time to apply to other placement vacancies and your Placement Coordinator can support you with your search.

How can I get some positive experience during this time?

One day you will look back on what you did during this time. You may be busy with study, work or caring responsibilities. Or you may have more time to focus and less competing demands. 


  • Remember that the library remains open virtually and has a range of online journal resources and e-books that you can access. This is a good time to study and further develop your independent learning skills
  • You may want to learn about a new topic. FutureLearn offers free short online courses on a range of topics delivered by universities around the world, including the University of York. The Open University also has a range of free online courses, including Developing career resilience and Just graduated, what next?
  • Could you consider starting your own research project? You could ask for guidance from your supervisor and consider a topic that could be completed remotely. Or you could volunteer some time to support an existing research project via Zooniverse, originally developed for the science sector but now including projects across all disciplines (for example, transcribing prisoners' records from Australian convicts, classifying baby sounds, listening to seismic waves to classify earthquakes, or monitoring seal populations around the world).


There are many opportunities to make a difference in your local community to support the most vulnerable members of society who are affected by the current COVID-19 situation.  

  • If you are in York, you can join the The City of York Council volunteers list. Volunteers can register to help protect residents’ health and wellbeing
  • Sign up to our remote volunteer roles. We will share opportunities when available
  • For ways to help nationally Covid Mutual Aid is helping to coordinate activities
  • Check out opportunities in your local area through your local council website, or 
  • Get involved with a research project on Zooniverse, mentioned above - data inputting, transcribing documents, mapping, monitoring wildlife videos, for projects across a range of disciplines
  • For more information and ideas read our blog post, Virtual volunteering.


A number of people have started a new business during lockdown. If you would like support with creating a business plan check out our Start Up Guide. You can also book virtual enterprise consultations via Careers Gateway.


And don't forget that looking after yourself is an important part of thriving in lockdown - see our blog Five ways to careers wellbeing.


What about part-time work?

Many students with part-time jobs work in sectors particularly affected by the pandemic and lockdown restrictions.

  • The government has pledged to pay 80% of staff wages for staff furloughed by companies closed during the Covid-19 outbreak - if you had a part-time job, check with your employer whether this will apply to you.  See the GOV.UK website for information on work and financial support, or seek advice from Citizens Advice.
  • In exploring other options, think about sectors that require additional workers currently, such as farming, food production and supply, or healthcare. Large supermarket chains, online retailers and food delivery providers are all increasing their vacancies, many in customer service or deliveries.
  • If you have a skill that you can teach online, consider if you could offer this. For example do you have the ability to teach English as a foreign language (or another language) or a musical instrument? Could you teach via an online platform? Could you set up your own virtual school? Many children are now being homeschooled and demand for virtual teaching is likely to increase.  (International students please note that this kind of work will normally be on a self-employed basis which is not permitted for Tier 4 visa students, see our international students pages for more information.)
  • Check the Student Internship Bureau opportunities and apply for a virtual internship - see the internship section above.
  • Try to be flexible in your approach. Remember that by engaging in work you will be earning money but also developing valuable transferable skills such as enterprise, communication, determination and the ability to remain calm, professional and positive under pressure.

International students' questions about visas

Post-doc opportunities

  • Many UK universities have temporarily suspended recruitment and are only hiring for 'business critical' roles, although posts that are supported by external research funding may be unaffected. If you see opportunities listed on job search sites but you are not sure if they are still available, it's best to check on the university website.
  • Remember that industry based postdoc opportunities may also be available, particularly in sectors such as science, technology and engineering. For example, AstraZeneca recently advertised 50 postdoc opportunities globally.   
  • See the blog from LSE on Academic job search in uncertain times (23 April 2020)
  • The following academic job search sites also have career advice information, including global job search advice: 
  • Given the changes in the labour market in the current situation, you may also want to consider other areas where recruitment is continuing (or demand has risen), as a Plan B. Our PGR careers web pages will allow you to research different options and you can also book a careers advice appointment with the careers consultant for postgraduates. 
  • A free online career management course for early career researchers is available at FutureLearn. Designed to be studied over 4 weeks. It has been developed by postgraduate careers consultants from the universities of Sheffield, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
  • The University of York is piloting a new mentoring programmefor PhD students in the final 18 months of their research. You will be matched with a more experienced postdoctoral researcher who will act as your mentor to help you to develop your skills, behaviours and approach to the research experience.