The coronavirus basically dropkicked the U.S. economy. As workers celebrate working from home to honor social distancing and nonessential travel, other workers fear getting fired altogether. Families struggle to put food in the fridge and students watch from a distance as the job market plummets further and further down. The Labor Department said the rate of unemployment has spiked to at least 4.4% in February alone. In addition, our handy dandy nail and hair salons are the ones that took the biggest hit with losing about 500,000 employees according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Job Market: What’s Left
David Wessel from the Brookings Institute predicted the longer the quarantine drags on, the more brutal the recession will be. Big businesses college students were grinding out applications for, have been letting employees go instead of scouting eager candidates. The Los Angeles Times had begun laying off reporters in early March, when COVID-19 made its debut. The Whitney Museum, where I had applied for an internship, had laid off over 70 workers last month. So, I guess I have my response. “Even seniors who got jobs before the virus really affected our economy had their offers taken back which isn’t fair because that will delay the process of them being able to live on their own and start their own life in the real world,” said Blake Nair, Colgate University graduate. The National Association of Colleges and Employers reported 22% of employers are revoking internships but 4.4% are revoking full-time others. With the simultaneous influx of newbie job hunters and experienced employees, the competition is likely to be heightened. “[Graduating students] may have to compete with their older, more experienced counterparts,” said Kara Stevens, finance expert and author of Frugal Feminista. More experienced workers may settle for a lesser salary to at least secure a job.
The federal relief bill totaling to about $2.2 trillion in federal spending divides into about $1200 per citizen eligible to receive it. Your eligibility is determined by your citizenship status, social security number and your income. For college students listed as dependents, I neglect to tell you your bill will not be hitting your account. Now, students who earned their paychecks on their college campus are in a sucky situation. The line for unemployment filing could take up to weeks for a response. “Massive student loans for many graduates, especially students of color, is a reality and that burden is going to make it difficult to explore and try new ideas,” Stevens said. The students who pay off their tuition on their own dime now lack a source of income from waiting tips to baby-sitting allowances. “I have been applying to internships and jobs to make some money to help pay for grad school. Some of them have gotten back to me about moving to the interview stage but I haven’t heard any follow up at all,” Nair said. More importantly, the graduates are shuffling out their summer jobs in anticipation to pursue something targeting their degree. Spring means time to level up your resume. Especially, for fields who love a “work experience” category with depth.
Here’s Some Navigation for Graduates:
1.Utilize Your Resources
University career centers encourage their students to seek further guidance on how to adjust. “Universities are still a huge resource. Career coaches are available to do virtual practice interviews. Seniors should make sure their online presence is complete, up to date and as powerful as possible,” said Rachel Brown, associate vice provost at The George Washington University’s Career Services. Get your resume and cover letter reviewed by a professional. Touch base with the professor who sends you opportunities and people to work connect with. People want to help, let them!
2.Expand Your Network
Employers abandoned their traditional meeting rooms and became hip to Zoom, offering their advice and connections with students. “Honestly, I’ve slid in the DMs of random people on LinkedIn who have a similar professional path that I hope to have and ask for an informational interview to hear from them their experience in their field and to get some genuine advice,” said George Washington University graduate Udochi Esomonu. “I find that I learn a lot from these, and I tend to leave with new resources and contacts that I was unaware of prior to the interview!” The career fairs we bought our Steve Jobs outfits for are now online. Resources for to be successful are still tangible. Putting yourself out there is beyond your resume now. “Seniors [need] to make sure their online presence is complete, up to date and as powerful as possible,” said Brown. “Pay attention to virtual events, make connections with employers.” I know finals looked like the end of the workload and ticket to freedom. But, grab another cup of coffee, your network needs some love.
3.Think Outside The Box
Are you hell-bent on the one dream career you’ve been trying to land after graduation? Is your idea of adulting pretty linear? I challenge you to get creative. Right now, a few of the jobs on your top 10 won’t accept anyone else for employment. Well, if you can’t go through, then go around. “Be flexible to working outside of your major,” Stevens said. “Be open to careers looking for adventure.” Think beyond the borders of your preferred country or state. Traveling may be distasteful given the circumstances but give it a chance when we’re free from the virus. Expand your network outside of what you think you should do. You never know what new connections and experiences you can credit toward building the ladder closer to what you want to do.
Know how to draw? Make music for fun? Have a specialty in math, good enough for tutoring? Since internships left students anxious to hear back or flat out rejected, side hustles, here we come. “What kind of platform or tool or service [can you use] to monetize your skills and passion?” Stevens said. Always keep more than one stream of income. In the case buildings and restaurants don’t open back up this summer, make sure you got a pillow to fall back on when things pick up back to speed.
5.Back Up Off Yourself
Graduation may feel like you’re being pushed out of the nest and straight toward the ground. You believe you can fly but..ehhhh. Now, the pressure is on, the competition has heightened, and you want your resume to look CEO worthy. But, please, remember to be patient with yourself. “A way I’ve been trying to do [self-care] so far is focusing on what I’m putting into my body, ensuring that I get the right nutrients for my height and weight to ensure ample use of energy to use throughout the day,” Esomonu said. “When I have energy, I feel like I can do just about anything especially take on the stressful process that is looking for and applying to jobs.” Stress is understandable, anxiety is inevitable and the weight on your shoulders gets heavier every time you open a form. Make sure in between your application sending binges you take some time to take care of yourself.