Graduating in the Age of COVID-19 and how RU is helping Seniors

It is understandable that this not the time you thought you would be graduating into. COVID-19 has ruined your celebration plans and everything you’ve worked for throughout the last four years, and if you would ask me, never in a million years would I have ever imagined that every so many aspects in our lives would be knocked down by a virus. 

Brittany Hill is a senior at Radford University and was ready to graduate this semester. However, her graduation plans were ruined when the state announced closure of schools, 

“I was initially shocked and then very frustrated, angry, and hurt by the announcement because I felt like it ruined my senior year plans,” said Hill, “I was hoping that the closure of the University would be temporary at first, but with everything going on, I knew that it was going to be permanent.” 

Besides not being able to live the full experience of the last couple of months of the senior year, millions of seniors are worried about how they’re going to sustain an income after finishing this semester. Because of the severity of the outbreak, college seniors believe that opportunities will be slim to none because a lot of places won’t be actively hiring newcomers. 

Hill, adds how COVID-19 has impacted her life on a personal level, “The pandemic has affected me negatively and drastically. All of a sudden, I have to say goodbye to the relationships that I have built over the years and I can’t continue on with the plans that have been in place over the course of the semester.” Hill said. 

“I was truly shocked when Radford announced its closure. Up until then, I didn’t realize the magnitude of the situation. I thought about all the events academically, in my sorority and personally, that I would miss as a graduating senior,” said Racheal Carter a senior at Radford University. “While it may seem small to some amid this pandemic, there are bittersweet memories when it comes to being a senior in college. Most college seniors dream about celebrating four years of their life by walking across the stage at graduation.” 

Ellen Taylor, Career Coach of the College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences and Assistant Director of Programming at the Center for Career and Talent Development, noticed that companies are being creative in transitions jobs and internships. 

“We are finding that many companies are delaying hiring for jobs and internships at this moment, and sadly in some cases also withdrawing or delaying start dates for offers previously made. Having said that, the job market has not totally come to a halt,” said Taylor. “A quick search in Handshake, this morning, shows 7,781 jobs and internships for college students and recent graduates. One trend that I am seeing is that companies are being creative in transitioning jobs and internships to remote positions in which the student or graduate can telecommute.” Taylor said. 

Bobbye Wardlow, a senior at Radford University, says the pandemic has affected her in several aspects in her life. One of them is not being able to work due to her autoimmune disorder, “I’m unable to work and apply for jobs because I have an autoimmune disorder that puts me at high risk of getting the virus, so I’m unable to work to sustain an income.” said Wardlow. 

“Personally, the pandemic affected my ability to spend the last few months with friends, and how effective this semester will be in contributing to my education,” Wardlow added. “Once this is over, me and other college seniors will be entering the workforce, making it difficult for us to be around each other and see each other. In addition, online education is different than in person education, and the level of education and effectiveness of the education is different.” said Wardlow. 

How fast would companies recover from this depends on how creative the businesses are, as well as their ability to adapt after the pandemic. However, there are some industries hiring during these times. Ellen Taylor gave some example of the companies that growing during these times and in need of more people. 

“I think that it depends on the industry and also, in some instances, in the overall health of the company going in to the pandemic, as well as the businesses ability to be creative and flexible to adapt and change their business model and way of doing business.” said Taylor. “Also, some industries, such as Amazon, grocery stores, pharmacies, teleworking software companies such as Zoom, and technical support companies and on-line entertainment are actually growing during this period and often ramping up hiring. “ 

Taylor encouraged graduating seniors to stay active and continue looking for opportunities to grow. She made sure to assure to Radford University graduating seniors that the Center for Career and Talent Development is there for them 

“Economists have a variety of projections as to the magnitude and extent of the economic effects of the pandemic. From the perspective of graduating seniors, the key is to stay active, read, research, and continue to build skills that you anticipate will be valuable to you,” said Taylor. “Also, know that the Center for Career and Talent Development at Radford University is here for you. And the one thing that you can do TODAY is make a Zoom appointment with your Career Coach to plan your strategy. Make an appointment in Handshake or email us. We are here for you.” said Taylor. 

Taylor has provided some information to some of the Center for Career and Talent Development resources, in a student Guide Book that could be found on their website, as well as recommending to check out the five-hundred companies that are hiring right now on the Handshake blog https://learn.joinhandshake.com/students/hiring-on-handshake-500/?utm_campaign=later-linkinbio-joinhandshake&utm_content=later-6530077&utm_medium=social&utm_source=instagram

It’s a new world out there. There is clearly a lot of bad, but there can also be some interesting breakthroughs and positive outcomes as well. Don’t lose hope we are all in this together, even though everyone’s experience is somehow different but when this is over, it will be over for everyone.