The uncertainty of graduating college during a pandemic

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The Sundial file photo

Alyssa Durant, Assistant Campus Editor

In the past, I always used to make the same joke when my friends and family asked me about my post-graduation plans:

“I don’t know,” I’d respond, “I don’t have 2020 vision.”

Now here I am, I’ve finally made it to the last week of my senior year. I’m about to be a fresh college graduate, standing face-to-face with an unprecedented health crisis. I can’t help but feel a bit lost in the haze of COVID-19’s forthcoming impact. My intuition couldn’t have ever possibly tipped me off that I’d be completing higher education unemployed in the midst of a global pandemic.

I’ve seen a lot of other seniors throwing fits on social media in frustration that there won’t be commencement ceremonies to adhere to social distancing guidelines. Yeah, it would feel rewarding to walk across the stage and celebrate with my loved ones. But the graduation celebrations are the least of my concerns\; I’m more concerned that we’re being thrown into a job market while global economic activity is on a sharp decline.

The class of 2020’s future seems more unclear than ever as financial experts predict “business-as-usual” could resume months from now. They’re saying the United States hasn’t seen a hit like this since the days of the Great Depression.

As I embark on the transition from college life into my professional career, I can’t help but feel anxious regarding how the current state of emergency will impact my future. The post-COVID-19 economic recovery is bound to be lined with inflation and hits on the gross domestic product growth rate.

According to the Los Angeles Employment Development Department, the county’s labor
force decreased by 183,000 over the month of February. Since mid-March, the health-driven wave of layoffs has only upended the labor force as we know it for the time being.

I’m actively surfing the web in search of a full-time job, and I can’t help but feel as if application portals are more congested than ever. The search process almost feels like a game of chance the more that I don’t hear back from the few companies that even have reached out to me for phone interviews. In this moment of history, the tough job market is larger than just other graduates, it’s the thousands of previously-employed professionals that lost their jobs and are searching for work.

At the end of the day, I know the only way out is through. While I always envisioned myself graduating with a job in line, I’m hopeful that my career will fall into place when the timing is right. The silver lining in all of this is that my generation is going to help define the new social norms. We’re going to reshape the future with a new set of values and a sense of appreciation for all sectors in the American economy.

Everything is temporary, and I have faith that as a society we will come out of this stronger with many lessons learned. But man, what a time to be a graduating senior.