Recent college graduates face lack of opportunities during COVID-19
Posted on March 2, 2021 at 6:00 a.m.
Image credit above: Recent college graduates are navigating a tough job market in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Antonio Rodriguez | Adobe)
Megan Hiestand understood everything.
A 2019 graduate with two Biomedical Informatics degrees from Arizona State, she started a Fulbright Fellowship in January 2020 with the intention of meeting her boyfriend abroad at the end of her fellowship year. She would then return to the United States and apply to medical school.
Then COVID-19[female[feminine come. Within a week, she was back home in California.
“It was pretty devastating,” Hiestand said. “How do you make a plan when the world doesn’t have a plan?” “
Hiestand quickly changed course and started looking for a job.
Like many recent graduates, his research began at a time when young workers suffered disproportionate job losses.
According to Institute for Economic Policy, the unemployment rate for workers aged 16 to 24 fell from 8.4% to 24.4% between spring 2019 and spring 2020, while the rate for those aged 25 and over rose from 2.8% at 11.3%.
COVID-19 continues to impact students’ perspective on what is possible after graduation, as internships are canceled, job postings dry up, and security concerns limit options for trip.
With graduation on the horizon for the 2021 cohort, this begs the question: how can young job seekers find inspiration and strength in the stories of their peers?
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Sean Kennedy, who graduated in 2020 with a chemical engineering degree from the University of Delaware, has had many internship experiences. He recalled that many recent alumni of his program had envied opportunities after graduation.
“I remember thinking, ‘I can’t wait for it to be me,” Kennedy said. “I really felt there was a very easy transition from graduation to work.”
Nearly 170 applications later, Kennedy finally received an offer from a pharmaceutical company.
“I never really saw myself stepping into this field, but I’m extremely grateful,” Kennedy said.
Many recent graduates have had to pivot in their job search. While such changes can cause anxiety, be aware that a career path is not linear.
“Only 25 percent of students will end up in jobs related to their specialty,” said Julia Lang, professor of practice and associate director of career education and life design at Tulane University.
“When students start having conversations with working professionals, they often find that they’ve tried a bunch of different things, or that they thought they were going to go down a path, and they ended up in a path. different. “
Andy Chan, vice president of innovation and career development at Wake Forest University, reminds his students that their first job won’t be their only job.
“(You) don’t necessarily want to be looking for the perfect job,” Chan said. “You’re actually looking to work, to earn money, to learn how to develop professional skills. “
If you are feeling stressed you are not alone
Abigail Haley waited anxiously on the phone in the days leading up to Christmas. Almost a year after obtaining a diploma in cinema, an offer of scholarship in communication was finally proposed.
“The month of December was like, ‘Please just let me get an answer anyway, so I can get on with my life and get that hole out of my stomach,’” Haley said.
In the spring of 2020, as some of her peers at Ithaca College were seething with anxiety about the lives and work of graduates, Haley felt prepared.
“I knew I had previous work experience to support me when I applied for jobs,” she said. “I naively thought that would be enough.”
At the end of 2020, the pressure set in when his loan repayments began.
“I had enough savings to pay off my loans until the end of the year. But I thought I wouldn’t have to use up those funds, ”she said. “Then it’s mid-December, and I still had no prospects. And that’s when I hit the panic button.
Like many recent graduates, Haley was not entitled to unemployment benefits. Although she had built an emotional support system with her friends and family, at one point the lack of assertiveness about her feelings became frustrating.
“I was sick of people saying, ‘It’ll be fine. Like, yes, thank you very much. Except I have a loan repayment due in January, and you don’t pay it, I am, ”she said.
“I think it’s important to validate that this is a really stressful time – and not to water it down,” Lang said.
“Students are really going through a big change right now, both in terms of navigating their university experience… not being able to have the social interaction they’re used to and also thinking about the job market after graduation. “
For someone like Nandini Chatterjee, a December 2020 graduate from Stony Brook University, the lack of empathy and understanding has been the most frustrating part of the job search.
As an international student, the stakes are particularly high.
Before the United States was stranded, Chatterjee did an internship and learned that a permanent position was on the horizon. But last summer, when cases started to rise again, there was no guaranteed full-time job.
“There are times when I can’t sleep at night, and I’m just like, okay, what am I going to do?” Is there a backup plan? Should I study more or should I go back to India? ‘ She said.
With less than 90 days to find a job, Chatterjee must find a job, or she will have to return to India.
Similar to Haley, the lack of empathy discouraged Chatterjee.
“People who say ‘Well maybe you can just apply here.’ It’s like, I don’t mean to be rude, but it’s not that easy to apply ‘out there’ because a lot of companies don’t accept international students and prefer people who don’t need sponsorship in the future, ”she said.
Alyssa Hammond, director of undergraduate career development at Bentley University, suggests that young job seekers should set aside time for themselves and to maintain their sanity.
“For people who have a lot of anxiety and are feeling hopeless, this is not the long game right now,” she said. “Set goals for yourself every day, not only in terms of your job search, but also your well-being. “
Think like a designer
To help recent graduates think critically about themselves and their aspirations, Lang recommends design thinking.
“Thinking like a designer is being able to truly accept whatever resources or limitations you may have (and) honestly assess what you have available in terms of money, time and relationships. “
Using design thinking, Lang said students would be able to better articulate their goals. Ask yourself the question: what do you care about? What matters to you? What questions do you want to explore?
Thinking about what you want to do more and what you want to do less can help propel you into the position you want, according to Hammond.
“It’s that mentality of designing beta testing, trying things out, seeing what you like, and then moving that forward in your work and your career development,” she said.
For Hiestand, using this time to consider these questions and reflect on his values has helped redefine his goals.
“I must have learned over the past two months that my goal is not just what I do for a living,” she said. “There is so much more to (life) than the letters after your name for your degree or your employer in your electronic signature.”