This was supposed to be an exciting time for graduating seniors.
The transition from undergraduate classes into the job market or higher education marks a fresh, new chapter in their lives. Instead, most of their ‘senior lasts’ happened without their knowledge, and commencement has been delayed as well.
However, the greatest cause of concern for many stems from the present uncertainties in the job market. Unemployment has skyrocketed. The stock market has tanked. COVID-19, also referred to as coronavirus, has arguably had as much, if not more of a negative impact on the United States economy than the 2008 financial crisis. This is not the flourishing economy that seniors had planned to enter into upon graduation.
“Graduating seniors are usually under significant stress in getting first jobs, and the coronavirus has only added to the uncertainties for May graduates,” said Tony Pederson, the Belo Distinguished Chair in Journalism. “We know there will be economic fallout, but we don’t know how long it will last, how deep will be the effect, and how long the recovery. And especially for some industries that already are under pressure, such as news media organizations, the uncertainty and the stress will only be increased.”
For seniors who started the application process shortly before the outbreak, perfecting cover letters and preparing for interviews are all part of the stressful, yet exciting, process of separating themselves from other applicants. Now, many job opportunities have been taken away, creating even more competition across the board. When isolation ceases, it is uncertain whether companies will be hungry for entry-level employees or if they need applicants with more experience to help them get back on their feet.
“Besides having a college experience end earlier than I expected, finding a job is going to be very frustrating as well,” said Sarah Katsikas, a senior Advertising major. “Just in the week I was back from spring break, I had two interviews that were cancelled because they are not focused on new hires anymore.”
Seniors who secured job positions earlier in the semester are faced with similar apprehension. The confidence they had in their future plans was taken from them quickly and unexpectedly.
“The largest effect it has on me is the uncertainty of the whole situation,” said Robert Keehan, a senior Computer Science major. “Will my employer still hire me this summer? Will I be able to move across the country like I planned a couple of months ago?”
Both Keehan and senior marketing major Edward Woollard feel as though everything in the near future has been called into question.
“We don’t get to start our working lives in the right way, and it’s completely changed the outlook for the next couple of months,” said Edward Woollard, a senior Marketing major. “I secured a job lined up for post-graduation and now I just hope every day that it doesn’t get cancelled.”
Those who planned to continue their education are also faced with a new set of challenges. Internships and testing are essential in creating the ideal portfolio for graduate, law and medical schools. However, with the GRE postponed and summer internships cancelled or moved online, many are left wondering what the next step will be.
“The uncertainty about my future that I worked so hard to make go away is back and it is out of my control,” said Praise Davidson, a senior Psychology major. “My timeline is out of whack with taking the GRE and summer internships, and if this continues the economy will be such a mess there might not be jobs in my field anyway.”
Many seniors can take comfort in knowing that most of the world is faced with similar obstacles because of this pandemic.
“The key will be for SMU students to be ready when things open back up,” said Jared Schroeder, Assistant Professor in the Department of Journalism. “Have the resume ready. Have the internship applications ready. Use this time to read about potential jobs and internships with deadlines that stretch farther out. Be proactive!”