With the uncertainties brought on by COVID-19, students at East Carolina University continue to run into difficulties finding employment while attending classes this fall.
Junior elementary education major Gianna Carter said she worked in the Joyner Library Archives before she had to leave Greenville after ECU moved its classes online in March. When she inquired if she could still work for Joyner Library when she comes back in the fall, the response she received was that the number of employees had been reduced.
“They (Joyner Archives staff) said they are changing to do federal work study. They just told me last minute, so I've been trying to find a job quickly. I asked if I was still going to be employed with them and they were like no, we decided we are going to change to federal work study,” Carter said.
Federal work study is a program funded by the United States federal government, which provides part-time employment to students who need financial assistance in college, according to studentaid.gov.
Since being turned away from her on-campus job at Joyner Library, Carter said she looked further within ECU and expanded the job search off-campus and has applied for multiple jobs with little success.
“I've been looking on and off campus,” Carter said. “I've applied for jobs on campus or whatever is available and I've applied for a lot of places off-campus.”
Carter said she applied for multiple entry level jobs, such as at Target and Cold Stone Creamery off-campus and for the position of a mathematics assistant and a sports videographer on-campus.
Without finding success in her job search, Carter said she still has financial aid to help her pay rent and buy groceries.
“I'm just using the money I got back from financial aid, and I actually switched over to live in an apartment so all the money I got is just to survive, to pay for groceries and pay rent,” Carter said.
Junior criminal justice major Shane Schooler said he has sent out applications to locations on-campus such as the Office of Students Rights and Responsibilities as a bookkeeper and off-campus to Chili’s.
Schooler said he looked for help from on-campus Human Resources and has had a low success rate. He said he wasn't able to get any job offers on campus.
“I never got in contact about anything I put in (on campus). They contacted me to say ‘hey we appreciate you reaching out but we don't have a job position for you,’” Schooler said.
Schooler said he only received call backs telling him that there are not any openings to work. He said when asking for guidance from on-campus employers they direct him to website information.
“I've used their (ECU’s) online stuff where they post their jobs. If I ask for guidance through people on-campus they're like ‘oh we have this website, (or) go check out this website’ and so I've gotten to the point where I don't really ask people. I just immediately go to the website,” Schooler said.
Schooler said he suspects the COVID-19 pandemic to be a contributor to the lack of job opportunities in the area. He said he doesn't blame anybody as much as he places blame on the circumstance itself.
“I think it's (job opportunities) gotten worse since COVID(-19),” Schooler said. “It's hard to staff, so I’m not really blaming them now as much as I would have been six, seven (or) eight months ago.”
Schooler said he understands the situation is very unusual for both him and businesses and offices all over Greenville, but he has noticed that employers outside of ECU have not been incredibly flexible with his school schedule.
Schooler knows it is challenging for offices of ECU to take on more staff. He said he has experienced similar problems off-campus.
“It's been extremely frustrating across the board, not only with student employment but with employment in general,” Schooler said.
Not only is it difficult for him to find employment on campus but as a student, Schooler said it is hard for him to find a job off campus.
When Schooler shared his class schedule with an employer, he said he was turned away because it was too late to change his class schedule and the employer wouldn't work around his predetermined class schedule.