Rona Sisson

By Rona Sisson

Q: Dear CHCC (Chestnut Hill Career Column), I am a senior in college and now living at my parent’s home.  My graduation has been cancelled. Prior to the COVID crisis, I had plans worked out with my internship from last summer – which had turned into a full-time job offer to start after my graduation. Just last week they said that job is not there. What do you recommend I do?

A: First, try not to worry too much. It sounds like you are safe and healthy, which is the #1 issue right now. Next, I am so sorry to hear about your graduation being cancelled. You are not alone, and not even this virus can diminish all the commitment and hard work that goes into obtaining a college degree. It is quite an accomplishment and many congratulations no matter the circumstances.

Start date deferrals are different from a job offer withdrawn. Confirm the situation as best you can. Maybe they would consider a deferral on your start date? No harm in asking. Either way, check in later this month with email and/or a voice call — consider writing a handwritten note thanking them for the internship and asking them to keep you in mind when position(s) open up.  You are building your reference list, which is something that can last your working lifetime. You just never know where the next opportunity will come from.

Consider asking your contacts at the company for referrals to other people in business that they know who could speak with you about other ideas and advice. Many people are taking the time to help others during this crisis, and you may find an opportunity that suits you even more.

Another thought is to gear up through your college career center and take full advantage of what they have to offer you right now. If you are so inclined, consider a graduate program that suits your interests and college studies. I recommend you create a solid online profile on Linked In. 

It can be truly disappointing to be forced to rework your thought process in the short term and I wish you all the best — you have your entire career in front of you and this is a momentary setback. Stay safe and healthy!  RS

Q: Dear CHCC, I have been laid off from my full-time retail job and applied for unemployment two weeks ago. May I also receive the $600/ week CARES benefit and how long? My friend is self-employed. Can he also apply for the federal CARES money?

You did the right thing to go to and apply for benefits. From what I have read, be patient as they have been slammed since the crisis. “We’ve never seen anything like this before,” quote from Unemployment Compensation Benefits Policy Director Susan Dickinson.  The Pennsylvania office has been overwhelmed with applications and is making extraordinary efforts to accommodate all Pennsylvanians who are in a similar situation.  Make sure to check out the important information page regularly for updates as the situation is evolving. Save this link as they update it all the time:

Under the federal CARES act, you may also qualify for the extra $600 / week to individuals receiving unemployment benefits beginning March 29 through July 31, 2020. Beginning with week ending April 4, 2020, if you filed for and are eligible for a UC payment you will receive an additional $600 for those weeks only, but details on the roll out are still evolving given the urgency of the shutdowns across Pennsylvania in the last month. Again, be patient. 

You friend can also apply now for the CARES benefit, called Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). Here is the link:

Due to the crisis, Congress expanded eligibility for individuals who have traditionally been ineligible for unemployment benefits (e.g. self-employed workers, independent contractors, gig workers).  Hopefully you and your friend can get back to work as soon as possible after the CC passes. All the best. RS

Rona Sisson is an attorney and also serves as Executive Director with Mestel & Co., a legal recruiting firm with offices nationwide.  A resident of Chestnut Hill, she has been in the career field for over 25 years, and provides career advice and job searching strategies to clients across the region. You may email her your questions at for the CHCC.