The COVID-19 pandemic has caused seismic shifts in the way we work, as specific industries recede (e.g. fashion retailers, tourism companies) and others adapt by instituting work-from-home policies or imposing social distancing requirements (e.g., restaurants). The pandemic also has caused an unprecedented increase in unemployment. In July 2020, as unemployment rates hit 10.2% (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2020) --with even higher rates for minority populations-- the White House created and released a website encouraging workers to get creative in their job searches. The website, created primarily by Ivanka Trump, is titled Find Something New.
Find Something New includes information and an assortment of tools for those attempting to navigate the murky waters of unemployment. The website offers aid to those who are lost in the difficult task of figuring out what the next step is for them, whether that be a new job or an entirely new career path.
The Infancy of the Site and Reviews
Although it is too early to gauge usage and impact, early reactions from the press and on social media were mixed. Concern was expressed for the suggestion inherent in the title: that finding a new career path was as easy as a shopping trip (Bennett, 2020; Singletary, 2020). Indeed, a portion of the website is dedicated solely to videos of workers who successfully found new careers. These videos, while offering hope, may reinforce the idea that locating work --in a time when few choices are open-- is more an individual problem rather than a systemic, societal concern. While it is certainly helpful to instill hope in the hearts and minds of American workers, the message seems out of touch with the gravity of the times. Furthermore, directing users to educational programs, internships, and apprenticeships is complicated by the requirements of social distancing; and these options may be out of reach for Americans who are struggling to pay rent and find food.
How Career Professionals Can Use the Site
Criticism aside, the website does introduce the general population to the Occupational Outlook Handbook and examples of rapidly growing jobs (e.g., contract tracer, web developer). For career professionals, the “Resources” tab of the website contains some excellent information. What follows are examples of what is available and how it might be useful to career clients and their counselors, as well as graduate students training to be counselors.
This page includes links to a variety of assessment tools for those searching for a career path. While some of the tools seem closer to popular online quizzes, the page also directs users to valuable, empirically validated tools, such as the ASVAB and O*NET’s suite of career exploration tools. Both of these resources offer top-notch information and help. Counselors, though, may want to steer clients past Lockheed Martin’s STEM-based tool, which seems rather superficial. The unusual mix of resources presented may be related to the creators of the website, who are staff from the Ad Council. Their expertise is in advertising, tech, media, entertainment and marketing; not in career counseling.
School and Tuition
This page may be of use to any users who are looking for an educational program at any level, or for financial assistance to support their education. It primarily contains databases listing educational institutions, from four-year colleges to vocational schools, as well as databases for scholarships and financial aid. The Distance Education Accrediting Commission, focused on online learning options, seems to be a timely tool; and Career One Stop offers a wealth of career and educational exploration tools. Counselors can use this page to connect a wide variety of clients with educational opportunities to suit their individual needs and interests.
This page serves to help users through the job search process by helping them search for open positions, providing them articles on perfecting a resume, and giving suggestions on how to nail an interview. Remote, highlighted on this page, can help connect people to work-from-home positions, which may prove especially useful for immune compromised workers, workers with young children, or workers living with elderly family members. Counselors can use the resources on this part of the website to help clients who already have education or work experience and are currently searching for a new job that fits their circumstances today.
Home and Life Services
This page connects users with sites where they can apply for and locate free or reduced-cost internet, food, and childcare; some of the myriad negative impacts of unemployment. Also included are resources on how to apply for unemployment benefits in their state, such as OnwardUS.org, which connects residents of participating states to resources, training, and jobs by zip code. When counselors work with clients who are struggling to make ends meet, they can use this page to show them where to turn to get the help they need. Counselors can check this page to ensure that they are keeping up with the evolving financial support networks available to clients.
Programs for Veterans
Find Something New includes resources for veterans looking to re-enter the workforce. This page acknowledges the unique challenges faced by veterans attempting to find work and links to sites with job listings, funding opportunities, and more, all specific to veterans. Counselors working with veterans can use the tools on this page to help veterans find jobs which utilize the skills they obtained in their Military Occupational Specialty (MOS). Counselor educators can also use this page to highlight the distinct difficulties veterans face when looking for work.
As career counselors, many of us are likely familiar with the tools made available on the Find Something New website. But it might be useful to review the website, looking for tools that may be new and specifically tailored to the times. Because Find Something New contains a wealth of information, career clients could find themselves overwhelmed by the sheer number of links provided. Therefore, career counselors may want to walk their clients through the site and specify which tools may meet their individual needs.
Those who educate future career service providers should also aim to use this tool as part of their pedagogy. Counselor educators can use the site to teach graduate students about the broad impact of unemployment, as these same students likely will be working with clients on not only the job search, but also basic survival skills. Find Something New brings links to career resources together in one discrete place.
Ad Council. (2020). Find something new. https://findsomethingnew.org/
Bennett, F. M. (2020, July 14). New Ivanka initiative tells out-of-work Americans to ‘find something new’. CNN. https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/14/politics/ivanka-trump-find-something-new-unemployment/index.html
Singletary, M. S. (2020, July 24). Ivanka Trump’s Find Something New career campaign is more hype than help. The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/07/24/ivanka-trump-find-something-new/
US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2020). State employment and unemployment — July 2020 (Report No. 20-1589). https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/laus.pdf
Maddie Weinstock, BS, is a doctoral candidate in Counseling Psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University. Her research interests typically include eating disorders, body image, and eating behaviors; but she is finding a new passion for career counseling. Maddie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org