With the COVID-19 pandemic refusing to let up, many seniors and students alike are still on edge and wanting to know when they will be able to continue their lives normally. For the seniors who already have jobs in these troubling times, things have been pretty easy for them. “I already had a job prior to COVID-19,” senior Jessica Houlker said. Another senior, Jennifer Evans, says that “I haven’t been looking for a job.”
Director of Career Development Jessica Harrington, shared her thoughts on students’ struggles and the pandemic. “COVID-19 has produced some challenges for students preparing to enter the job market. That said, many companies are still hiring, but the process may look a little different. Job seekers will likely be interviewed via phone and video. While many graduating seniors may feel discouraged right now, I encourage them to remain positive. The economy has upswings and downswings. This pandemic is unprecedented and has resulted in a sharp rise in unemployment. However, I am confident that the economy will begin to rebound quickly once businesses are allowed to resume normal or semi-normal operations.”
Thankfully, however, seniors have not had many problems with setting up their resumes.
Sadly, due to the pandemic, students have not had physical access to face-to-face appointments via the resources of the Lighthouse at Virginia Wesleyan. However, Harrington states, “Technology is such a great resource. I have been able to meet with students via video. Platforms like Google Docs allow us to have a meeting and simultaneously work on resumes and edit them in real-time.” Meaning, the resources of helping students fix and finalize their resumes are still up and running. Both Evans and Houlker say that they have had no problems setting up their resumes, as both are using premade ones with updated information. However, students are still able to make their resumes via sites such as LinkedIn or through Microsoft’s Word document in the form of a resume.
This whole situation is difficult for seniors and some are still pretty upset with the hold that the pandemic has on their futures. “I don’t think it’s fair that everything I have worked for is being postponed. It feels like everything is being crapped on. I wanted to put my artwork in the gallery, like students have done in previous years,” Evans said. Houlker feels similar to Evans: “It upsets me, not being able to walk across the stage in May and have to restructure how I do my schoolwork.” Many seniors would agree with them.
Harrington remained optimistic on the matter. “I would imagine it is difficult for students, but I am glad that the university has made alternative plans. I think that this pandemic affects all of us. I personally believe that the university has handled this situation very well. In my office, we have taken steps to provide programming in a virtual format,” Harrington said. Still, though, her ray of hope can only bring us towards a better outlook in these dark times.
Additionally, this pandemic has been a struggle for those who were on work-study. Those who were working with the OPUS program were not able to finish their programs completely. However, they were still granted the money. Work-study students were left without a job and for some, it was their only job. Evans adds to that when she says, “It sucked losing my job. It was my last year to work in work-study.”
Overall, this pandemic has put a lot of strain on those who are graduating. Harrington shared some insight on this. “I think this pandemic is a historic event. I was in high school during 9/11. I will never forget what that event felt like for me. I think this is similarly impactful. We will all remember this event and how it has affected our lives. I think we will all make some lifestyle changes after this, but that we will all get through this together.” This is just another stepping stone in the seniors’ future, as well as for the students in other grades. Here’s hoping this pandemic does not continue to stick around much longer.