College students graduating at the end of the 2020-2021 school year will face a rare struggle as they enter the workforce and apply to graduate schools.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on nearly every industry in one way or another, which has caused many internships to go remote, or caused an organization to limit internships or pull them completely. Standing out when most of world was stuck inside became instrumental to graduate school applications and jobs post-pandemic.
Karen Falk, senior history major, said she is applying to multiple graduate schools but said it is challenging to find one that does not require a previous internship.
“The year I normally would have had my internship, COVID prevented it,” Falk said. “A lot of museums shut down, and most graduate programs want either job experience or an internship. So I’ve had to rely on my professors writing good letters of recommendation in order to help me be more competitive.”
Another challenge graduates will face is the impact COVID has had on the economy.
Dr. Paul Wendee, adjunct professor of business and economics, expects this impact to last a couple of years.
Wendee encourages students to spend any free time students have during the pandemic on learning new skills related to their field.
“What you want to think about is making sure you have that extra skill that sets you apart,” Wendee said. “If you’re in business and know how to use the programming language Python, that will make you more attractive. It’s about what you did do during the pandemic, not what you should have done or did not do. As a hiring manager, you want to find someone who took advantage of the pandemic to learn new skills or expanded their worldviews.”
Kenzie White, senior history major, said the current job market is intimidating because a lot of graduates and interns are trying to break into the market at the same time.
“Finding jobs in and out of my field has been a huge struggle this past year,” White said. “Because I’ve been out of a job for the past year. Everyone else is also trying to break back into the market, so it’s all one surge of people trying to get employed.”
Hannah McPherson, junior history major, said making connections is important for those who are still on campus.
“Find a way to make your mark on this campus,” McPherson said. “Because not everything has opened back up yet, it is important to make the most of the resources here. Talk to your professors and put yourself out there.”