Seniors fear COVID-19 outcomes


Jeff Helsel

“Dream Big,” a graduation cap decorated and worn by Alaina Ross ’16 at California University of Pennsylvania’s 183rd Undergraduate Commencement ceremony, Convocation Center, Dec. 17, 2016.

Alexandra Paes, Staff Writer

The overflow of career fairs, hiring ads and internship programs typically signals the start of hiring for newly graduated college students. However, with the pandemic taking an unexpected turn towards the employment market, student’s inboxes are coming up empty this year instead.

California University of Pennsylvania’s senior class is preparing for graduation at the end of the 2020 fall semester, but it is not without fear of what is to come in the future.

As many local businesses have been mandated to shut down during the fall quarantine, there are many that are remaining voluntarily closed. With the mass decrease of thriving businesses, the demand for competitive jobs was disrupted and graduating seniors have been feeling the strain.

Cal U senior Christan McNutt is studying sports management and is fearful that the global closure of the sports industry will impact his career long term if he is unable to get an internship after graduation. McNutt was looking forward to utilizing his sports management degree with one of Pittsburgh’s local college athletic departments.

“The COVID virus really came out of nowhere and just destroyed every industry. People who had full careers in fields like sports or hospitality are now taking any part-time job in order to put food on their table and pay rent,” McNutt said.

The overwhelming job loss due to the coronavirus has resulted in the unbalance of qualified workers and open positions.

“This year just made it really hard to get a good start in order to make the right connections for future opportunities,” McNutt said.

The lack of opportunity has seniors questioning what they will do for employment with the market being so limited due to the pandemic.

Johanna Eisel, a Cal U senior studying English will be graduating this semester and also faces concerns about an overcrowded job market. Eisel is considering jobs in teaching, journalism and publishing but due to the lack of openings, she is finding new opportunities in fields outside of her major.

“It worries me a bit going into a job market that is saturated. I’m trying to remain confident though since I have a degree to back my years of experience in office administration as well,” said Eisel.

Eisel was able to find comfort in the new skills provided to her by utilizing the online Zoom learning structure that Cal U opted for during the fall 2020 semester.

With students having to adjust to a virtual world for college classes, some feel as though they gained an advantage over older generations.

“Being young, I think I would have an easier time getting a remote job because my youth has made me more technology savvy than older generations,” Eisel said. “Jobs are still there, just harder to obtain right now.”

Although the job market has a smaller opportunity for the graduating class, students are proving to be resilient by capitalizing on their learned skills.

Senior Bailey Murray at Robert Morris University is studying environmental science and worked part-time serving at Applebee’s until the virus shut down the restaurant. Murray has since been interning remotely for a local environmental group which is teaching her about the business protocols for local factories and plants.

“Although it wasn’t what I had originally planned to do, I realize that we are in a pandemic and I need to be grateful for any opportunity that may help me in the future,” Murray said. “One day when the world goes back to normal, this generation of young adults will be the most resilient generation for what we went through.”