Last spring changed the direction of everyone’s lives. But, the 2020 college graduates are a group of people whose last year has greatly been shifted due to the coronavirus pandemic.
These young adults were rushed off of their respective college campuses, with little good-bye’s to be said, and put under lockdown. Instead of in-person ceremonies and celebrations, they got pre-recorded commencement ceremonies. Their college experience was hardly given a finale but instead cut short in their parent’s homes. This took a toll on their mental health and optimism for going into the labor force.
Now, it has been a little over a year. That year consisted of an uneasy job market, high (then tapering unemployment rates), and the impending doom of student loans.
What have these young adults been doing in the past year?
On the Job Search
Searching for entry-level jobs is the most obvious task that 2020 grads have been doing. Typically, a job search for a full-time job takes an average of 6 months, but for this group and many others during this time, it has been drawn out.
Entry-level positions were more difficult to find in 2020, entry-level job prospects fell by 73% by May 2020. The competition was high, as recent college graduates raced for them. As of May 2021, almost half of 2020 graduates are still looking for jobs, according to the Pew Research Center.
Economists note that graduating in a recession has lifelong impacts, as noted during the Great Recession in 2007-2009.
It can be difficult for the recent grads to recognize that their struggle on the job search has little to do with them, but more to do with the short and long-term impacts of the global pandemic.
Working Temporary Jobs
While on the job search for a full-time position, many take up temporary jobs. This is a common trend, pandemic or not because the job search process is lengthy. The point from application to a job offer is slow and typically takes a few months.
Typically college grads take up a part-time retail or restaurant job to fill their time before getting their first career role. Though, 2020 grads did not have that option. The retail, restaurant and hospitality industry quickly shrunk during 2020.
For Miranda Copeland, a 2020 graduate from the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire in May 2020, she’s spent her time working temporary roles. She spent the summer of 2020 unemployed before getting a bank teller job at a local bank. That role filled her time while she searched for a graphic design career.
“Your first job does not have to be your dream job… You never know what you’re getting into, but that’s a good thing” said Copeland.
After a few months of applying and interviewing, she was hired for a graphic design internship. Unfortunately, that internship ended due to budget cuts. This is leaving her still searching for her new job, her third in the last year.
“[The job market] was not what I thought it would be, to say the least… it felt like somebody just give me a chance,” said Copeland.
Thankfully, the job market has bounced back now, and hopefully, it will stay that way even with the delta variant looming ahead.
Adjusting Career Paths
Some industries were hit harder than others, such as the entertainment industry. This resulted in new grads, and many others, adjusting their career paths. Some roles will not bounce back after the pandemic. While some realized that they are suited for remote work and do not want to return to the offices.
Right now there is an overall shift in the job market. Many with their bachelor’s degrees are going back to graduate school to gain more knowledge on a new industry they desire to join.
As Copeland struggled in her job search, she advises that others, “open your eyes to different opportunities.”
Advice for 2020 Grads
One of the best ways to spend time during a job search is to improve upon your application materials such as cover letters, resumes, and CVs. It seems frustrating short term, but long term it can shorten the process.
“Be patient” said Copeland. She understands the difficulty all 2020 grads go through and encourages them to continue making the best out of any temporary roles.