Job uncertainty grows among graduating seniors

Some students wonder if they will be able to keep job offers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jesse Lankeaux, a senior advertising major, works from his home in Greenlawn, New York. | COURTESY / JESSE LANKEAUX

When Jesse Lankeaux started looking for a job after graduation, he had his heart set on finding a job in New York City.

Lankeaux, a senior advertising major, wants to work in health care advertising. In early March, he had an interview planned with Havas Health Plus, an ad agency that creates advertisements for health care brands, like Gold Bond and the Research Foundation to Cure AIDS. 

Although he had already bought his train ticket, with the number of COVID-19 cases growing in New York state, Lankeaux ended up interviewing for the position virtually, unsure whether the job would still be available. 

“Naturally I was thinking if the sales reps are not talking to doctors as much, they’re not going to need promotional material we create for them, they’re going to cut their ad spending,” Lankeaux said. “If they cut their ad spending, the advertising agency might need to cut back on payroll or maybe stop bringing in new hires.”

Fortunately, Lankeaux received a full-time offer the week after his rescheduled virtual interview. Yet, Lankeaux is a part of Temple University’s class of 2020 who are entering the workforce unsure if the beginning of their post-grad careers will look the same.

Due to the economic halt of business shutdowns during the COVID-19 outbreak, more than 16 million people have filed for jobless claims, The New York Times reported on April 9.

In March, the average daily count of open internships advertised on ZipRecruiter fell 31%, Business Insider reported.

Last month, Kevin Hasset, a former economic adviser to President Donald Trump, predicted there would be hiring freezes related to the COVID-19 outbreak, The Times reported. Delta Air Lines, Airbnb and Boeing are some of the companies that have started a hiring freeze due to the virus. 

Jaycie Hricak, a senior political science major, is entering a four-plus-one program in the fall, which allows her to graduate with a master’s degree in five years, but wanted to find a job for the summer that would allow her to make connections and possibly help her find a full-time job in the future.

Hricak’s internship with the Pathways Program, a federal internship program, was supposed to start May 11, the Monday following her undergraduate graduation, and continue through the beginning of her first year as a graduate student, she said. After Temple officially moved online, Hricak decided to stay in Philadelphia, as her job is set to be in Center City. 

“I didn’t think it made sense to go home for a month where I don’t have a bed,” she added. “So if it gets pushed back or canceled, that’s going to make me feel very confused about everything because I didn’t go home just so I could be here for that.”

So far, her start date has been pushed back three and a half weeks. 

“I still have it, thankfully, but I am very nervous it’ll be pushed back more or overall canceled,” Hricak added.

Laura Craig, the associate director of career development for Temple’s Career Center, said the cancellation of on-campus career fairs has caused uncertainty for many seniors, as well as potential employers.

“If, you know, we were still living that life we probably would be seeing a lot more students working on applications as a result of that happening,” Craig added. “Right about now is when we start to meet people through coaching appointments who maybe haven’t interacted with our office before but they’re coming up on graduation. They’re wondering what they should do, how they should proceed.”

The Career Center is still providing appointments for students through phone calls or Zoom virtual conference calls, Craig said.

When advising students, coaches at the Career Center check in with students and see how they are doing with online instruction and help students with writing cover letters or creating resumes, Craig said. 

“If anything, this particular quarantine period might give us a better opportunity for that self-reflection that is oftentimes part of the job search,” Craig said. “Also talking with students, ‘Okay, let’s engage in that self-reflection, let’s try to be as ready as we can be for when we have a better opportunity or better moment to take advantage of an opportunity.’”

The Career Center is continuing to schedule appointments with students through Zoom or phone calls. | COURTESY / TEMPLE UNIVERSITY CAREER CENTER

Hricak said following the COVID-19 pandemic, it might be a good idea for students to ask potential employers what resources or help they provide their workers during this time.

“I think that speaks volumes about different organizations that we all might be looking to work for,” she added.

Lolita Beylina, a senior psychology major, started searching for a job in human resources and recruitment in January, she said. 

The coronavirus pandemic has not impacted the way she is searching for a job, but has pushed her to look into different opportunities she would have otherwise overlooked, she said.

“There’s some jobs that basically put their jobs on hold … so you have to open yourself or expand your preferences for other locations,” Beylina added. “Who knows what’s in store for us in the future.”

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