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Class Of 2020: College Grads On Launching Careers, Lives Amid The Pandemic

Pakistani student Varsha Thebo, 27, poses on the campus of the International Student House where she resides, on the day of her graduation from Georgetown University in Washington, DC on May 15, 2020. (AGNES BUN/AFP via Getty Images)
Pakistani student Varsha Thebo, 27, poses on the campus of the International Student House where she resides, on the day of her graduation from Georgetown University in Washington, DC on May 15, 2020. (AGNES BUN/AFP via Getty Images)

The class of 2020 is stepping out into an utterly transformed world. We talk with grads about their hopes and fears as they try to launch their lives and careers.


Jonathan Yubi Gomez, he is graduating from Lehman College later this month with a BFA in Fine Arts. (@JonathanYubi)

Katharine Brooks, executive director of the career center at Vanderbilt University. She writes the "Career Transitions" blog for Psychology Today. Author of "You Majored in What? Designing Your Path from College to Career." Author of the 2021 edition of the classic career book "What Color is Your Parachute," out this fall. (@KatharineBrooks)

Candace Jones, graduated from Chattanooga State Community College with a degree in paralegal studies.

Alexis Brown, graduated from Wayne State University with a degree in sociology and urban studies. She is returning to Wayne State in the fall to pursue her masters in sociology.

We Asked You: 'If You're A College Grad, How Are You Launching Your Career During A Pandemic? 'And Those Who Work With Graduates, What Advice To You Have?' Here's What Some Said:

Christine Cruzvergara is the vice president for higher education and student success at Handshake. Handshake is a digital platform used by 900 colleges and universities to connect students and recent graduates with nearly 500,000 employers. She said that in March, employers seemed to be taking a pause on hiring. But since April, Handshake has seen an uptick in activity again. Employers are back on the prowl.

Before moving to Handshake, Christine Cruzvergara served in career services at colleges including George Mason University and Wellesley College. She said that graduating into a recession can have a silver lining.

Here at "On Point," we had to cancel our internship program mid-semester. One of our fabulous interns Bradley returned to his home in Atlanta — and graduated from Boston University this past weekend.

Listener Cody called us from New Orleans. He graduated from high school amid the recession that started in 2008, and went straight to the Navy. After serving, he enrolled in college for engineering. He graduated this month.

Hannah called us from Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She recently graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She shared with us how she's trying to find a job.

Allison left us a voicemail from Portland, Maine. She says she graduated from college in 2009 amid the Great Recession, and now she's graduating from law school during the coronavirus pandemic.

Jein called us from Emerald Isle, North Carolina. She was supposed to head to San Francisco after graduation for an internship in strategic communications through the Multicultural Advertising Internship Program, or MAIP. The internship was canceled, but MAIP is offering online seminars throughout the summer, instead.

From The Reading List

Pew Research Center: "On the Cusp of Adulthood and Facing an Uncertain Future: What We Know About Gen Z So Far" — "One-in-ten eligible voters in the 2020 electorate will be part of a new generation of Americans – Generation Z. Born after 1996, most members of this generation are not yet old enough to vote, but as the oldest among them turn 23 this year, roughly 24 million will have the opportunity to cast a ballot in November. And their political clout will continue to grow steadily in the coming years, as more and more of them reach voting age."

St. Louis Public Radio: "'Kind Of Nerve-Wracking': Next Steps For College Grads Entering A Newly Challenging Job Market" — "In a job market characterized by furloughs, layoffs and rescinded internship and job offers, this spring's university graduates face challenges beyond their canceled graduation ceremonies."

Psychology Today: "Returning to Normal? Or Not?" — "I was reading an interesting blog post today, titled "Smile, Wave, Be Thankful, Be Kind, Find Peace" by Dr. Lawrence H. Gerstein, Professor of Psychology at Ball State University. It's a lovely piece written by the Advisory Board of the Ball State Center for Peace and Conflict Studies, which he directs."

NPR: "In Virtual Speech To Black Graduates, Obama Says U.S. Lacks Leadership On Coronavirus" — "Former President Barack Obama delivered a virtual commencement address on Saturday, urging the tens of thousands of graduates from historically black colleges and universities to 'seize the initiative' amid what he described as a lack of leadership from leaders in the United States to the coronavirus pandemic."

CNBC: "New college grad job outlook is more competition and lower pay" — "Those armed with a newly minted diploma are facing the worst hiring season for new college graduates since the financial crisis more than a decade ago."

Fast Company: "How 2020 college grads can adapt to the COVID-19 job market" — "The Class of 2020 is entering a job market that has been turned upside-down by COVID-19. Entry-level jobs often aren't a fit for working from home, and displaced employees with more experience are becoming unexpected competition. As a result, many have had to rethink their job search."

Los Angeles Times: "Pour one out for 2020 grads. It'll be hard to find a job in this market" — "Mia Maloney had what every college senior wants: a cool paid internship in her field secured months before graduation."

Marketplace: "Colby College's plan to get jobs for its entire Class of 2020" — "In a matter of months, the COVID-19 crisis has turned what had been one of the best job markets for expectant college graduates into one of the worst."

New York Times: "Editorial: To the Class of 2020" — "I wrote this on behalf of my high school's class of 2020: I knew they would cancel school for the rest of the year, but it still doesn't feel quite real. I will never get to be late to homeroom again, I will never get to fool around in class again, I will never get to stay after with my favorite teachers again, I will never get to high-five my friends in the hall in passing, I will never get to have a real last day."

Washington Post: "Unemployment is so bad that these economists are proposing a new way to measure it" — "The official unemployment rate last month, at 14.7 percent, was mind-bogglingly high — the highest since the Great Depression. But as always, the headline rate does not capture the full reach of job-market pain."

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

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