COVID-19 turned the labor market upside down, forcing 2020 college graduates to navigate one of the rockiest economies since 2008.
For 2021 grads, the job outlook is a little brighter.
“After four years of college, you feel like you’re ready to achieve all these things, so to have this third party that’s never been seen before was just really frustrating,” said Shukri Khader, a 2020 Michigan State University graduate.
Like thousands of other students in the class of 2020, Shukri Khader’s post-graduation plans took a turn when the pandemic hit last spring.
His job offer was rescinded and it was back to square one.
The National Association of Colleges and Employers surveyed employers before the 2020 shutdown. They were looking to increase hiring by 6 percent that year.
A follow up survey last fall, as COVID-19 cases were surging again, revealed that employers planned to keep hiring flat heading into 2021.
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The association's research manager Andrea Koncz said that’s changed.
Hiring projections are up 7 percent for 2021 grads.
Koncz said the vaccine rollout and gradual reopening of the country are making employers more optimistic about hiring.
For MSU grads, the industry they were pursuing jobs in made a huge difference.
“The summer following the shutdown, a lot of students had already secured an internship for that summer and some of those internships were consequently canceled including mine,” said Ashley Prince, a 2020 MSU graduate.
Prince studied construction management, a field she said was less impacted by the pandemic.
“There are a lot of opportunities available for people in the construction management field,” said Prince. “I found a paid internship that summer.”
This year, some grads relied on past work experiences to help land them jobs.
“During my time at Michigan State, I had a few different internships and my plan was to have a job lined up before graduation,” said Aaron Farmer, who graduated from MSU this spring. “It kind of worked out that the company I interned with for the two summers asked me to come on full time, so I actually had my job secured last August.”
After such unprecedented times, Khader says he’s rooting for his fellow graduates and the class of 2021.
“I have friends who graduated this year and have great opportunities coming up for them, so it feels really good just to know that,” said Khader. “It was tough on us 2020 grads, but we made it work. We figured it out.”
RESOURCES FOR JOB SEARCHES
- Tips on how to make social media help in your job search
- Expert offers tips for college graduates entering competitive job market
- Tax tips for Americans new to gig work
FINDING A JOB
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