As students near the end of the school year, soon-to-be graduates at the University of Colorado Boulder are scrambling to secure a job out of college. But with continuing economic fallout brought on by the novel coronavirus pandemic, anxieties surrounding the current job market are amplified for those graduating in May.
“The coronavirus will definitely affect my ability to get a job after graduation,” said Whitney Couchoud, an English major set to graduate from CU Boulder next month.
The class of 2020 will be graduating into an economy with unemployment numbers likened to that of the Great Depression. The U.S. Labor Department estimates well over 26 million people nationally have been laid off or furloughed since March 15.
In Colorado, the state saw a 2% increase in unemployment from February to March, reaching 4.5% according to The Colorado Sun. Just last week, over 100,000 Coloradans filed for unemployment. Experts can’t say for sure how seismic and long-lasting the economic effects of the virus will be, with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce saying economic forecasting is a “little better than fancy guesswork.”
In the face of uncertainty, Couchoud feels she is one of the lucky ones, having been able to secure an internship over the summer that will allow her to work remotely.
“Most student internships this summer have been canceled,” she said. “Students relied on internships this summer, even graduating students, to secure a job.”
But with plans to attend graduate school in the coming years, Couchoud is especially concerned about finding a job in the future that will fit her degree.
“It will be difficult to secure any form of job, and with a degree, most students do not want to continue working in jobs that only require high school diplomas,” she said.
For other students, job offers have been hard to track down. Some have even been paused.
Avery Larsen, a soon to be political science graduate, has felt the effects of waning hiring interest from politically affiliated companies. While she is currently working part time on a political campaign, she has struggled to find any full-time positions.
“The reality is, I am entering a workforce and economy with a lot of highly qualified, experienced professionals out of a job as well,” Larsen said.
Coreena Ball, an integrative physiology major graduating in May, said she is no longer able to volunteer at Avista Adventist Hospital in Louisville or continue shadowing the doctor she has been working with at the Denver Neurological Clinic since September. Her current job offer as a medical scribe has also been postponed.
“It’s a little scary because I want to work in the medical field and it’s hard to get that position because everyone is worried about sanitation and safety of the current workers,” Ball said.
Still, CU Boulder says it is doing all it can to support its graduating class.
“The reality is, I am entering a workforce and economy with a lot of highly qualified, experienced professionals out of a job as well.”
Avery Larsen, CU Boulder political science senior
Jake Jedamus-Denu works in CU Boulder’s Career Services as an employer development specialist. With the “world changing drastically, almost overnight,” he acknowledged the worry among both students and employers surrounding the job market. However, he said students can still find opportunities.
“We’re still seeing thousands of jobs and internships coming through (on Handshake). It’s not that they’re not there, I think that there is just more uncertainty about specific jobs and timelines,” he said.
“We want to keep encouraging students to keep looking, keep utilizing all the different job platforms. And even if a company is not hiring right now, you can still get in contact with them. It’s tough to navigate, but I think that there’s still a lot that you can do.”
Jedamus-Den recommended students use this time to update their resumes and craft cover letters. He also said students can still schedule Zoom meetings with CU’s career services for employment help.
“We want to be really cognizant of the anxiety that a lot of students are feeling by working with them to navigate the anxiety, coping with uncertainty, and developing strategies that are within their control within the job and internship market,” Jedamus-Den said.
Despite an unprecedented moment in history, students are holding on to hope. Larsen said while it may take months or years, she knows everything will eventually work itself out.
Couchoud said she is optimistic that once the state and country begin to open, businesses could kick back up to high gear.
“I do feel that once the lockdown is over … we will bounce back quicker than anticipated,” she said.
Contact CU Independent Breaking News Editor Noelle Videon at firstname.lastname@example.org.