COVID-19 creates shaky futures for recent graduates

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Photo Courtesy of Surpreet Kaur

Illinois graduate Surpreet Kaur poses for a graduation photo in front of Foellinger Hall. Kaur had difficulties finishing her final semester of college this past fall.

By Elizabeth Sayasane, Features Editor

While every graduating class faces fears and anticipation for what life after college may look like, those who graduate during the time of COVID-19 have even greater uncertainty than those from previous years.

Some seniors last year were lucky enough to get a job offer in the fall or early spring semester before the pandemic threw many people’s plans out the window. Many seniors this year have had to cope with virtual recruitment events and canceled internships. They have no guarantees when it comes to what life will look like six months from now.

Surpreet Kaur, graduate in AHS, faced some of these challenges after her graduation last semester in December 2020. Kaur graduated from the College of AHS with a degree in Community Health.

While early last spring before the pandemic, Kaur planned to graduate in December, she still felt the impact of COVID-19 last summer as well as during her final semester.

One requirement for her major is to complete a certain number of hours with an internship. She had an internship planned for the summer, but because of the pandemic, they changed the program so it would only be one month long.

“I had to take a complimentary course through the University to fulfill that internship requirement,” she said. “Which was obviously a little bit frustrating because normally I would have just had to go through that internship and not have to worry about extra work.”

Nonetheless, she was able to finish her requirement and graduated in December. On top of that, the organization she interned at offered her a full-time position, which she accepted.

Kaur did say it was difficult to finish her final semester of college online.

“I try not to think about it too much because it can be upsetting,” she said. “I tried to kind of make the most of it and, you know, focus on things that I could control.”

She did say it was nice to not have to spend her final semester suffering through virtual recruiting.

One of Kaur’s roommates, she said, did have virtual recruitment and said it was incredibly stressful.

“She was doing a virtual info session, virtual interviews basically every week until she got an offer toward the end of the semester,” Kaur said. “It seemed like a very challenging process.”

All of this, she said, was exacerbated by the current competitive nature of the job market.

Even though Kaur is secured with a job, though, it does not begin until August. In the meantime, she has moved back home to the Chicago suburbs. She is using the time to relax, take a couple of courses online, spend time with her family and focus on her hobbies.

With such tumultuous times, it is difficult to say what the world will look like in six weeks, much less six months. Kaur, though, is taking a positive approach.

“I’m just kind of hoping, or a bit optimistic, about being able to actually go into the office,” she said. “My job involves a lot of travel too so it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out if we’re not able to travel or if we’re not able to go into the office, but I guess we’ll kind of find out.”

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