2020-21 Graduates face a shaky job market

by Aero Cavalier / Staff Reporter

“Looking-for-Labor Day” commentary on recession during a global pandemic. Photo courtesy of artist Signe Wilkinson.

Historically, college seniors have always been looking for jobs and kick starting their career post graduation. However, newly graduated students are facing a new era of the job market. The class of 2020 is now entering a job market that is worse than the Great Depression.

The Labor Department recently examined the job growth in September and came to the conclusion that if every month was like September, it would take 17 more months to restore the job market to the level it was in February 2020.

Meanwhile, in these 17 months, young adults are still looking for employment. Jordan Fierst, a 21-year-old Roosevelt Spring 2020 graduate, is one of the few that managed to find a job in these unprecedented times. Actually, three of them.

Fierst is working as a distributed digital organizing associate for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, a 9th-grade-on-track coordinator with Milwaukee succeeds, and the varsity assistant girls basketball coach at her former high school.

“They [the jobs at the DPW and Milwaukee Succeeds] are both only temporary stepping stones to where I hope to end up,” said Fierst.

Although Fierst graduated in only three years and achieved Summa Cum Laude, she said she struggled with finding a job. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in political science and sustainability studies with a minor in International Studies. However, she believes Roosevelt could have done more to guide her into the professional world.

“I don’t feel as if Roosevelt adequately prepared me for the post-grad job-hunting process. To be fair, however, I’m not sure anyone could have prepared the 2020 class for what job-hunting in the middle of a global pandemic would look like,” said Fierst. “The virtual graduation ceremony was disappointing to say the least, and I felt like Roosevelt did not have the capacity to set its 2020 graduates up for success in light of COVID-19 and was instead ready for us to go.”

Rane Kenny, a senior English major with a minor in women and gender studies and sociology, is reflecting on Roosevelt’s ability to prepare her for the future.

“I think partially it’s on me and it’s on them,” said Kenny. “I’m not utilizing the career office as much as I could be, but maybe they can have events that are catered to after college.”

Fierst said she would have liked to see more opportunities to learn about financial literacy and paying back student loans while working an entry level position.

Ashley Denny, a Roosevelt 2020 graduate, has taken a slightly different path and chose to pursue graduate school before jumping into a career. She is currently attending Northwestern University and is working towards her Masters in Counseling.

Denny’s program has historically been online, so remote learning was not a surprise to her for this fall year. She said she is actually using the online courses in a way that is beneficial to her success.

“It’s been a challenge to keep up with everything, but having the opportunity to choose when I study and do my work is helpful because of my internship hours that are necessary to collect,” said Denny.

“I don’t think there’s anything Roosevelt University could have done to help me understand how different a higher level of education would be,” said Denny, in regards to Roosevelt’s preparation of students for life after undergrad.

Fierst emphasized the importance of developing lasting relationships with professors and other administrators. She specifically wanted to thank a few professionals that helped her when she felt Roosevelt was doing a lackluster job: Dr. Faris, Dr. Dalmage, Dr. Bryson, Dr. Barratt, Dr. Pickren, Coach Ragsdale, John Jaramillo and Dr. Kjar.

“Perhaps most importantly, advocate for yourself,” said Fierst. “Let people know what you need when you need it.”

For graduates of 2021, Fierst offered advice. “Start looking for a position early,” she advised. “Even earlier than you think you should.”

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