Professional Development
Career development / COVID-19 / Economics / Education / Hiring

‘Anxiety inducing’: College seniors on what it’s like to job hunt during a pandemic

Students from Temple University and elsewhere weigh in on the challenges of landing post-grad work, from virtual interviews to hiring freezes.

2020 grad. (Photo by Julie Zeglen)

For college seniors like myself, the pressure to break into the “real word” following graduation can be overwhelming. Students hope to walk across the stage and into a full-time job right away or within a couple months.

But after the entrance of COVID-19, universities made the switch to online classes and canceled on-campus events for the near future. A commencement cancellation tracker by Forbes lists nearly 90 schools that have canceled, postponed or made graduation ceremonies virtual. Between finishing up the last few weeks of undergrad and searching for a job during the height of a pandemic, stress is at an all-time high.

Students’ experiences finding a job are not universal. Some grads have had full-time work lined up for months and others are still looking to land that first interview. Here’s what some soon-to-be grads told about their job-hunting experiences, with some responses edited for clarity:

Isabella Arnone, Temple University information science and technology major

It’s been tough because I feel like there have been less job opportunities as coronavirus has gotten worse.

The interview process has been really strange. Everything is via Zoom so you have to accept a job without ever really seeing what environment you would be in for that job. It is normal for the initial interview to be a phone or video interview, but I’ve never experienced all video interviews. Instead of a second in-person interview, many companies are opting to do extra rounds of video interviews since in-person isn’t an option right now.

I like getting the opportunity to talk with more people at a company because of the extra interviews, but I also feel like I could give more of my personality and present myself better if I was face-to-face with someone.

Anna Gross, Temple University psychology major

My experience has been pretty anxiety inducing so far. The process of job hunting after graduating is daunting enough, but thinking about the state of the economy and our ongoing physical distancing, I’m worried about being able to find a job at all. I’m expecting interviews to be held virtually until we are able to stop physical distancing.

I’m going into the psychology field which is infamously overworked and underpaid. I’m searching for positions in research labs, mental health facilities, mental health advocacy and education. These positions aren’t currently deemed essential services and therefore aren’t able to hire new people. It has been hard to find listings for my field recently, and I worry about not being able to find a job and not being able to support myself financially as a result.

My plans to stay in Philadelphia are dependent on finding a job and apartment here. If I can’t do that, I have to move home where there are even fewer opportunities in my field.

Anna Gross. (Courtesy photo)

Lisa Cunningham, Temple University journalism major and business minor

I would say that the job hunt has been unique. I have been working as an intern at an insurance firm for almost a year now and am lucky enough to be continuing to work with them after graduation. With the uncertainty of the job market and life in general, it’s a nice feeling to know that I have full-time work until the end of the year.

With that being said, I have still been keeping an eye out for jobs on Indeed and noticed that they have made it easier to find jobs that are hiring now. LinkedIn has also been a great resource for me because people are constantly talking about companies that are still hiring and how to search for jobs given the circumstances.

Liam McTigue, Millersville University botany major

Before COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, I applied to several internships at the same organization. While I really wanted to be hired into this organization, I figured that I could always find a job somewhere else if I was not hired. After lockdown went into effect, I had not heard anything about the status of my internship application, and became worried that the program would be canceled; moreover I was concerned that I would not be able to find a job elsewhere anytime soon.

For two or three weeks I was very anxious about what I would do for the summer. Luckily, the internship wasn’t cancelled (probably because most of the work will be outdoors). I heard from the organization and was told that they wanted to do a reference check. This was a huge relief, and it looks like I will be getting the internship after all. I feel very fortunate because I know several people with summer jobs or internships that have already been canceled. 

Liam McTigue. (Courtesy photo)

Alex Deitz, Temple University information science and technology (IST) major

So far in my experience, job hunting has been more work than most classes this semester. Using [talent recruitment app] Handshake has definitely made it easier to apply to more places, but even still very few places respond.

While companies may be lacking when it comes to hiring, I think that Temple does a great job helping out students that actually want to work. Temple offers so many opportunities to get in a room with potential employers. To go along with that, Temple also does a pretty good job preparing IST students for the real world.  The IST capstone gives students a good look into what we would actually be doing in the business world.

Obviously, the coronavirus has also impacted job hunting. Since in-person interviews are not allowed, it means you have to do more Zoom interviews so that a company can get a better idea of who you are. I’ve had multiple companies conduct four separate interviews before [making] an offer or denial. One company even made me interview five times. However, despite all this I still don’t fully know what I want to do when I graduate. So, it makes finding a job that I know I will actually enjoy that much harder.

Sarah Tunnell, Temple University journalism major and business minor

I was interviewing with many places before COVID-19 and was hopeful that I would get a job. Once quarantine happened, companies stopped reaching out for interviews and just cut contact overall. I am now doubting that I will find a job before I graduate which was always a goal of mine coming into college.

The job search has continued to be difficult for me because I know many companies are not hiring at the moment, and that I will most likely be unemployed for a few more months before businesses get on their feet again. It is hard to even find internships at this point because they are getting taken away. I can’t really find a minimum wage job for the time being without putting my health at risk.

I know I will find a job with the degree I earned at Temple. I just don’t know when that time will come.

Sarah Tunnell. (Courtesy photo)

Companies: Temple University
Series: Coronavirus

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