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Recent, and Soon-to-be Graduates, Share Their Experience of Graduating Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic


Traditionally, college graduation is a time for optimistic celebration and excitement for the future. Your years of tireless schoolwork has finally come to an end, and the time to fully submerge yourself into adulthood has begun. This transition is a time for new starts and new opportunities, but for many recent and upcoming graduates, this transition is now marked with newfound uncertainties.

With the COVID-19 pandemic in full force, it is leaving many recent college graduates, as well as soon to be graduates with many unanswered questions and anxieties. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that COVID-19 cases are now in the millions and that COVID-19 related deaths have reached over 420,000 and are growing every day. The implications of the COVID-19 pandemic have spread far and wide affecting almost all factors of life, including the workforce.

Since the emergence of COVID-19, society has collectively watched as businesses close their doors to the public, reduce their hours, transition into remote work environments, lay off countless employees, and much more. Businesses have had to take unprecedented actions, and it is safe to say that the United States workforce is in a state of disarray that has not been witnessed in recent history.

Despite the fractured state of the world, many soon-to-be and recent college graduates are still attempting the arduous task of entering the workforce. A recent survey conducted by Indeed, one of the top leading job listing websites in the US, provides telling evidence of the general feelings surrounding graduates who are attempting to enter the workforce. Out of 1000 students graduating in 2020, “54% said the coronavirus’ impact on the labor market has made them feel less confident in finding work after they graduate, while 33% said they feel they will struggle to get into the industry they’re graduating in.”1

Kaitlyn Vandiver, a recent University of North Georgia graduate, shares her experience in trying to obtain employment after graduation. Vandiver shares, “I was aware that finding a new job during COVID was going to be a task, but I wasn’t aware of how hard of a task it really was going to be.” When asked about specific challenges she faced Vandiver explained, “well after graduation my goal was to find a position at a dental office. I applied online to well over ten locations and only heard back from three. Each told me that they were not excepting new employees due to COVID.”

Luckily, Vandiver expressed her difficulties with one of her past professors who in turn informed Vandiver of a place that she knew was looking for help. Vandiver explained, “It was really because the help of my teacher that I was able to find this job because it wasn’t posted anywhere, and I had never heard of it before. I went in for the interview and I got the job. I was so excited because I know a lot of my friends who graduated with me are still searching for a job, I felt really lucky.”

Vandiver’s shares how COVID-19 has affected her new job and explains that “The doctor who runs the practice has limited the number of patients we can see each day and he has reduced the business hours, we obviously have to wear intense personal protective equipment too. Other than that, it’s just the fear, I never know if the person I’m scrapping the teeth of is sick, and I also never know if I am going to be laid off due to a national shut down. It’s just scary because I have bills to pay.”

Vandiver says her advice to upcoming graduates is to, “Don’t give up, keep looking, keep calling, and eventually you will find something, even if it was not what you were necessarily hoping for.”

Savannah Mize, a senior at UNG shares similar sentiments as Vandiver. Mize admits “It is scary graduating during a pandemic but it’s our reality. If I want to eat and pay my bills, I guess I will have to make it work. I am just going to take it a day at a time and not stress myself out too much, as long as I have some sort of income I’m not going to complain. This was certainly not my ideal picture of what graduating would be like though.”

Vandiver and Mize’s statements bring to mind the adage, “The show must go on”- which is the current reality for many if they want to survive. And despite the warranted fear and uncertainty that surrounds the future, it should be noted that tenacity will persevere and that there is always help to be given to people who seek it. For recent and soon to be graduates, do not feel ashamed to take proactive measures and to ask for help. Utilize the resources around you and stay informed.

An excellent resource provided at UNG is Career Services, here you can meet with several qualified career specialists who can help you navigate your way through the current and challenging workforce climate. Additionally, UNG offers student counseling services that are highly accessible. Navigating a major life change amid a pandemic is objectively challenging, and if you need someone to speak to about it UNG’s student counseling service is a great resource.

Lastly, remember that living during a pandemic is a collective experience and that you are not alone in your struggle. Take a deep breath and remind yourself that you will get to where you want to be eventually.

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Recent, and Soon-to-be Graduates, Share Their Experience of Graduating Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic