5/11/20 David’s Insights

My thoughts for this week:

In last week’s commentary there was a bit of a downer to start, so this week in the spirit of commencement and new beginnings, I thought I’d bring some fun “corners of the internet” stories to the Cool Jobs Email for this week.

For example, there are roughly the same number of people receiving a check from Amazon as there are people named Sarah in the USA.  How crazy is that? After hiring 175K extra workers to handle increased demand, there are now as many Americans getting an Amazon paycheck (840K) as there are Sarahs (842K)

An aquarium in Japan has lonely eels because lockdowns have affected their daily interactions with humans.  You can Facetime with them to keep their spirits up.

This couple is keeping love alive even after the pandemic closed their borders.

Rowing across the ocean teaches you some things about being physically distant from others.  Hopefully we won’t be too distant for too much longer.

Check out Tim, the security guard asked to handle the Social Media for the National Cowboy Museum in Oklahoma, his initial tweets were a mix of social media novice and incredible genius. #hashtagaskthecowboy

Ever been interested in why sea breezes feel so great? Here’s the reason why.

Frozen Pizza, who knew it had such a history!!?!

Want to give back after #givingtuesday?  Check out these ways you can help others.  #couchvolunteering

Lastly, for the last 4 weeks or so, my student assistant, Arlene, and I have been working to clarify with employers who had active postings in Handshake, if their business needs have changed and would warrant removal of those postings.  To my great pleasure, from those we’ve heard back, about 50% are asking us to keep their postings active, which is a great sign.  We have a great student and alumni population who are desirable to employers, and the active postings bear that out!

Happy belated Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there 🙂

5/11/20 Cool Opportunities

Cool Jobs:

Jobs at FitBit
Some remote positions that pay well
Elections Specialist at the Board of Elections (Durham NC)
Health Scientist Administrator positions with the NIH
Disaster Recovery Specialist with the Small Business Administration
Landlord Liaison to help homeless veterans (Columbia SC)
Research Assistant in Digital Mental Health at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

Cool Local Jobs
Bell Partners is hiring a Property Manager
Marketing Coordinator for AeroFlow Healthcare
Business Manager at WLOS

Virtual Jobs
Loan Specialist with the Small Business Administration

Cool Internships
Research Assistant with Sea Turtles 911 (in Hawaii)
Biology research summer opportunity with the FDA

Cool Local Internship

Virtual Internship

Digital Media Intern

Cool Years of Service and Short-Term Positions

Serve Louisiana 
Teach middle schoolers who are the next generation of skiers and snowboarders

Other Virtual Opportunities

5/7/20 Land of Sky Regional Council Updates

Legislative Updates

State Level:

  • General assembly passed Covid legislation to spend $1.52 billion dollars already allocated from federal funds for state direction through the CARES act.  State is eligible for 4 billion total
  • $500 million will be allocated to the largest counties in the state (Wake, Mecklenburg, Guilford) state has received 1.4 billion so far (rest was state allocated) and expect $1.5 billion more in the next couple of weeks.
  • General Assembly included 300 million to the county level, cities didn’t receive funding from state, cities will apply to county because most of the money was for health departments and first responders in the CARES act, so it made more sense for the money to stop at the county level. This is split into $150 million “reserve fund” for once the counties will realize tax revenue losses and the other $150 million would cover each county for PPE and other expenses, every county receives $250k remaining funds distributed per capita basis
  • Money can be spent on health departments, PPE purchases, direct support to hospitals who have lost revenue, testing, tracing etc. $350k to “critical access” hospitals $250k to “non critical access” then rest is per-capita.  Medical schools also got money for testing and research
Question from the Gallery:  We anticipate another spike in Covid cases in October, so what can be done now to prepare?
  • General Assembly will come back May 18 to continue looking at Covid 19 packages
  • House is more readily willing to get money into the state than the Senate is, the senate anticipates “major shortfall” of tax money, so they want to hold on to as much money as possible for the next round.
  • They’ve funded $125m in Golden Leaf Grants for businesses, and anticipate more to come.
Question from the Gallery:What is the likelihood of additional state/local assistance?
  • Very high, many Republicans want to see the impact of money already spent first, but likely to see more given people’s habits have changed and tax revenues will be down for a while.
Question from the Gallery: Did the bills passed offer money for expanded broadband?
  • Yes, lots of money and ideas in the bill.  Gave Department of Public Instruction  funds to outfit school busses for broadband, provide equipment to students and teachers, Senate added 9 million for GREAT program (money for carriers to go into more rural and underserved areas and set up broadband access)
Federal level:
  • Next week the house will issue “CARES 2.0” the second large funding package out of the government.  Included will be liability protection for employers, and worker protection as people get back to work (require PPE etc.),  Will also include expanded SNAP benefits, more Payroll Protection Plan money for medium tier businesses
  • Don’t expect nonpartisan procedures, partisanship will return and tha will mean longer debates on spending packages
Governor’s office update:
  • $8.3 million from Covid Relief Fund already allocated to NC (Different money than above I think, they were talking really quickly)
  • Phase 1 reopening starts on Friday at 5pm
  • If a municipality or county has more restrictive language, those orders are to be followed
  • Businesses can be at 50% capacity, state parks can reopen, outdoor gatherings OK up to 10 people, more childcare for more people, keep face coverings and masks on etc.
Not allowed to open: 
  • Restaurants and bars for on-site business, take out OK
  • Personal care/grooming
  • Entertainment facilities (movies, bowling alleys, concerts etc.)
  • Fitness facilities
  • Playgrounds
Local Economic Development Updates

Henderson County
  • Check blog for more info: 1600 furloughed employees in manufacturing, but they anticipate furloughs to conclude soon
  • New business leads are coming back for the first time since mid-March, because more manufacturing is coming back onshore, “mini-manufacturing” will be more important (I think this refers to 10-25 employee shops)
  • Raised $1.25 million for One Buncombe fund, with the goal of supporting 1000 residents and local business, 47 businesses had loans approved already and 35 are women and minority owned
  • Anticipate county guidelines to mirror state for reopening,
  • Anticipate that in-migration won’t stop from large metropolitan areas as a result of Covid 19
  • Onshoring of manufacturing in the med-tech sector, more medical supply chain moving onshore, so anticipate Asheville/Buncombe/surrounding areas as attractive area for those businesses
Madison County:
  • Approved funding for more technology in schools
  • Town of Hot Springs will have free wifi and broadband supported by grant at first, then their TDA will provide ongoing funding and service after grant expires
  • Survey of businesses and hiring expectations from Buncombe County used in Madison county, very appreciative of the robust survey and to AB Chamber for sharing
  • Currently seeking grants for infrastructure to expand to new business (water, roads, broadband etc.)
  • Towns of Mars Hill and Marshall are interconnecting water service to better serve both
  • Madison county wants to start a small business fund like One Buncombe fund, but hasn’t yet.
Economic Development Partnership of NC:
  • Any companies interested in medical PPE production, can get linked with supplyconnector.org to get into supply chain
  • Manufacturers can now use federal funds to test PPE for efficacy, with RTI and NC State
NCWORKS Career Centers
Employers are calling to get people hired back on, so they are seeing an uptick in hiring coming back online.

Free Online Courses to Expand your Skill Set during COVID-19

Written by Khadiya Ross, UNCA Graduate May 2020 and former Senior Career Peer

With the increased restrictions due to COVID-19 many people are finding themselves spending most of the time in their homes. If you’re a person who is looking to expand your skillset to make yourself more competitive in the job market or simply just wanting to explore your interest, then free online courses might be just what you need during this downtime. If this sounds like you, I encourage you to continue reading as you will find several sites which offer courses for everyone! It is important to note that some of the free courses offer certificates, however there is a fee but it isn’t required. Even without the certificate you can still list them on your resume either under your skills section, relevant coursework.


Coursera is a site that offers countless online courses from companies and academic institutions across the world. Sample Courses include: The Science of Wellbeing (Yale University), Cryptography 1 (Stanford University), Seeing through Photographs (The Museum of Modern Art).


Lynda.com (now LinkedIn Learning) offers courses in software development, photography, web development, business, and development. UNC Asheville currently offers this service free of charge to students. When accessing the site be sure to sign in using the “organizational button”, enter in ‘unca.edu’ in the organization URL and this should direct you to login with your OnePort credentials.


 Tableau is a data visualization software and is currently offering a free eLearning experience for 90 days. Courses include: Desktop I: Fundamentals, Desktop II: Intermediate, Desktop III: Advanced, and Prep. Be sure to use the promo code: 2020elearning in order to get the 90-day free trial.

HomeSchool Piano

Now through September 1st,  HomeSchool Piano is offering free access to their level 1 course. Once you sign up you have access to videos and the live practice sessions that occur throughout the week.

[This is just a sampling of the online opportunities out there right now!]

3 Books the Career Center Recommends

Written by Lisa Mann, Director of the UNC Asheville Career Center

“You Majored in What?!” by Dr. Katharine Brooks 

This book is perfect for the liberal arts major who has to constantly answer the question: “You Majored in What!?” The book is ripe with information, full of real life examples and practical activities that can help propel you toward an answer for both why you chose your major and exactly how it will be helpful in your career (because it will be). If you haven’t chosen a major yet, this book helps with that as well. The liberal arts and sciences are ripe with possibility and Dr. Brooks reinforces their importance and the strong connection between the liberal arts and sciences and the world of work. 

“Designing Your Life” by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans 

The authors take the elements of design and apply them to life decisions. The book is approachable and a quick read, and has a few “aha” moments to reframe decisions. It repackages much of what we do in career coaching, even renaming a few of the activities (informational interviews are now part of prototyping). Some readers will find it catering to the privileged, so it’s more of a book for those who have their basic needs met (food, shelter, current income) and want to move toward a more fulfilling work life. 

“My Little Ikigai Journal” by Amanda Kudo 

We can’t stress enough the importance of introspection and self-reflection as part of your career discovery process. It helps both in decision-making and in the job search process (interviews, resumes, cover letters, and more). If you know yourself, you can make decisions that are right for you, and explain easily to others how you’re a great fit for a position. This journal has activities for self-reflection that help you uncover your interests, your strengths, your values, and your possibilities. Take this to your favorite thinking spot, and bring a pen!

5/4/20 David’s Insights

In full disclosure, my daily news diet has trended pretty heavily negative given the numbers of cases and folks affected by this virus, and it feels overwhelming.  But then I go into Handshake and see about 350 positions posted with us just in the last week and almost 50 new employers asking to recruit with us, and my spirit is lifted.

Another reason to be hopeful was found in a call last week where I learned that our local K-12 schools have responded in some really amazing ways.  For example, Buncombe County has made and delivered more than a half a million meals in the last 7 weeks to students who would ordinarily qualify for free and reduced meals. They’ve also worked with the Land of Sky Regional Council and the Dogwood Health Trust to set up mobile remote cell towers in school busses to allow for free broadband learning in areas of the county not served by commercial broadband.  BCS has also been able to keep all 4000 employees on their payroll employed, which, given they’re the second largest employer in the region, is a huge deal.

Lastly, this could be the final week of the most restrictive physical distancing guidance for our state.  We’ll learn more on May 8th, but there is at least some possibility that we’ll see more relaxed guidelines come out on Friday.  We have a long way to go, but we’ve already gone a long way, and that’s really important to remember.

Let’s do this!


5/4/20 Cool Opportunities

Good Monday afternoon everyone! Lots of fun stuff this week, happy reading!

Cool Jobs

Video Editor in Boston MA
Grant Management Specialist for FEMA/Covid-19 grants
Biostatistician with Natera
UbiSoft is hiring for several trainee positions

Cool Local Jobs

Academic Success/School Readiness Coach (Americorps affiliated)
Customer Success Specialist with SimplePractice (Charlotte, would be great for psychology majors)

Cool Internships

2 Cool internships at the Ventilator Project
Several paid fall internships with the Women’s Congressional Policy Institute 
Mechanical Engineering Research Internship

Cool Years of Service or Temporary Summer positions

Companies currently hiring large #s
Remote Temporary Team Leads for TTEC
Covid 19 response corps (Gain experience for governmental agencies with anticipated need)

Why NOT to Use “To Whom It May Concern” on a Cover Letter

Written by Lisa Mann, Director of the Career Center

I often say, “To Whom It May Concern” is the trash can. Just like we don’t send paper cover letters in the mail anymore, we don’t use “To Whom It May Concern” anymore. Whenever I read a cover letter with “To Whom It May Concern”, I know a few things: 

  1. This person may have never written a cover letter before 
  2. This person did not care to look up the name of the person hiring, the name of the company, or any details that might have helped in addressing their cover letter

Cover letters are unlike any other document we write, but that doesn’t need to mean we use an intro unlike any other we use. Instead, address your letter to a real person. It will modernize your cover letter and show you went the extra mile in your research, which demonstrates your interest in the position. If you want to work in 2020, drop the 1950s greeting.

[Other options are addressing your cover letter to a real human (preferred) by doing research into who the hiring manager or director of the office is, or addressing the cover letter to the search committee.]

4/30/20 Land of Sky Regional Council Meeting Notes

Governor’s Office:

Today at 3 for press conference, plans moving forward for May 8th to begin Phase 1 of reopening, but still need more data, gatherings of up to 10 allowed with masks and social distance. There is an immediate need for funding for the state/local governments, requested $1.4 billion dollars from Fed Government

Transylvania County schools

  • Feeding 1400 meals a day
  • Have deployed bile broadband units on busses so students have access when not otherwise available
  • August is going to require check-ins with students, and mental health support, they usually see a “summer slide” from students coming back from being home, but now predict a “Covid slide” and anticipate a lot of challenges, everything from mental health to repercussions of domestic abuse.
Henderson County schools:
  • 7000 meals a day, hasn’t stopped since day 1
  • Continued childcare for medical personnel, first responders etc.
  • “No Child offline program”, mailed books, assignments etc. costed $15,000
Buncombe County schools:
  • Same as above
  • Provided 563,000  meals in last 7 weeks started day 1
  • Restarted the family resource center for homeless students and families
  • Maintained employees across region and keep them “whole” with full paychecks and benefits, plan to continue
Biggest unmet need from school’s perspective?
  • Not sure yet, there’s a lot of students, and wellbeing checks will come in once they come back together, and then they’ll know more about what they need
  • Enhanced connectivity, for remote work
  • Might need things like thermometers, and masks, gloves, etc.? not sure yet
  • Teacher appreciation week, reach out and say thank you
  • Tomorrow is “school lunch hero” day
LOS Broadband initiative:
  • Worked with Dogwood Health Trust with 10 busses and 177 hotspots to help, but it’s not done yet, more through Duke, Google, and AT&T
  • Public spaces aren’t open, so they’ve identified parking lots and mapped them here:  LOS WiFi lots, where people can get wifi in parking lots that work
  • Currently working with churches to expand more wifi
  • Additional mandatory days for “learn from home” currently in the general assembly, the goal is so they can plan for the start of the semester to still be virtual, but problems of access remain
  • FCC Lifeline program, offers 10$ month for internet access if families are on other governmental programs
Year Round school model likely?
  • Nobody wanted to answer due to possible concerns from the state gov.
  • Experiences with virtual teaching will improve instruction though
  • Nobody wants to jeopardize teacher student relationships that are built in person

Thoughts on Internships Impacted by COVID-19

Written by Senuri Fernando, Career Peer

Millions of students around the world are having to freeze their academic and professional lives due to COVID-19.  Since this pandemic took control of our lives, college students and soon-to-be graduates are facing a great deal of ambiguity moving forward. Here are some next steps and advice you can consider moving forward so you can continue to focus on your academic and career goals.

Make sure to follow-up and touch base with your current employer(s) or potential employer(s) regarding the measures they are taking due to COVID-19 in regard to your job or internship. If it is a job that can be done remotely, ask your employer if you can work remotely. Many companies have already gotten used to working from home due to the uncertain circumstance we are facing. If you have applied to an internship in another city, state, or county, it is very important to touch base with your employer before you commit to housing and travel expenses. If your summer plans fell through due to COVID-19 or you don’t have anything planned, below are some ways to have a productive summer.

Remote work 

As a student at UNC Asheville, you have access to Handshake, which includes thousands of employers from various industries looking to hire students. Since many companies are choosing to hire remote workers for the summer, you have a good chance of finding something that aligns with your career path. You can also search on platforms like LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and Indeed for remote internships. Companies are also moving towards training and development programs for students and recent graduates.

Start your own project

In this time of need in community support, you can invest your time to create community-based projects and events. Think about what you’re passionate about and what motivates you. Contact local non-profit organizations, schools, and community centers to see how you can be of service to them and your community. The possibilities are endless when creating your own project. You can use social media platforms to market your initiative to your family, friends, and public.

Conduct your own research or take certification courses

Even though you might not be able to go out in the field, the internet has a wealth of information. You can use the UNC Asheville Library database and other credible databases to find credible information. The first step is figuring out the topic(s) you want to research. Contact professors who might be willing to help you and ask for advice. You can also take “free” courses on Coursera and Class Central to continue to build your skills. Once you complete the course you can choose to pay to get a certificate.