At Penn State And Across The Country, Seniors Graduate Into Tough Job Market

May 8, 2020

Penn State graduating senior Gabrielle Barone.
Credit Gabrielle Barone

The United States has lost more than 30 million jobs to shutdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic. Two million Americans receiving bachelor’s degrees this year are about to graduate into this difficult job market. 

The unemployment rate for April came out today at 14.7%, the worst since the Great Depression. Some graduating college students are already feeling the effects. 

Gabrielle Barone, a senior at Penn State, had a job lined up at an advertising agency. It was revoked because of the ongoing pandemic. 

“It took a little while for it to sink in and then it was like ‘OK, we have to figure out a new plan here.’ So I started posting my resume places and reaching out to my friends who have already graduated and have jobs,” Barone said. 

Barone found an unpaid internship to keep her busy until she could figure out her next move.

Michael Pepe, a professor at Penn State’s School of Labor and Employment Relations, said some Human Resources departments are transitioning from hiring to layoffs and pay cuts.

“HR has gone from business as usual to a crisis mode in many industries. Hiring company priorities frequently shift and this is a great example of how the external environment is compelling companies to shift their priorities and HR is having to engage in a lot of new and unanticipated activities that in many cases hiring freezes have been put in place,” Pepe said. 

Pepe advised graduating college students not to get discouraged when applying for jobs. Some companies are still hiring, but it may take longer for them to get back to applicants. 

Michelle Kinsman is the head of production and operations at Digitas Health. She also hosts The Real World Feminist podcast where she delivers career advice to young women who are entering the workforce. Kinsman said that her best advice is you have to be relentless in your job pursuit. 

“So, you just can’t surf the places like Indeed.com and LinkedIn and think that you’re getting the full picture. Just hitting the 'apply now' and submitting in your resume in that way, sure go ahead and do that, but I also want you to find other live human being connections at these places to also send your information,” Kinsman said. 

Kinsman advised graduating seniors to reach out to connections on LinkedIn to boost their job search.  

“You’re going to have to be a little more creative in how you pursue those job openings. So, I like saying to people ‘looking for a job is a full-time job’ and this is gonna be all the more relevant in this kind of market,” Kinsman said.

Gabrielle Barone, the Penn State senior, has put out several more job applications since her offer was pulled. She has been asking friends who are already in the working world for advice. 

“It’s scary. It definitely 100% is very scary to be graduating right now, but they have really helped reassure me that I will find a job eventually,” Barone said. 

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