As over 1.3 million students across the country prepare for graduation, the biggest challenge they face is finding work in light of the COVID-19 epidemic. Many American businesses are still closed and are not hiring. As a result, the current number of those unemployed is at 30.3 million people, which still continues to rise.
Garrett Stone said he was initially excited to have reached his final year of college, but as the COVID-19 epidemic swept America, it derailed his plans. Stone is a senior media production major.
“As soon as the news started breaking about COVID-19, I knew my senior semester was over. It was not a matter of if things got shut down, but a matter of when,” Stone said.
Stone said he started production on a web series right before Southern Miss was closed. Although the first episode was filmed, he has had to indefinitely postpone shooting more episodes until things settle down.
Thorne Hood thought nothing much of COVID-19 at first until he learned SXSW had been cancelled. Hood, like Stone, is also a senior media production major.
“I remember the last day I had on campus was the Friday before Spring Break. I tried to make the best of it, but it could never amount to what I expected my last days on campus to be like,” Hood said.
Research published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics during the Great Recession shows 19.2% of college-age individuals were unemployed during this time period. Additionally, research has stressed how those graduating are the most likely to struggle to find work in a recession since they lack a lot of experience for new jobs.
“I didn’t think that much about how it would affect post-graduation until I saw how it affected the entire entertainment industry. This has changed my plans because the industry I want to go in is at a complete standstill,” Hood said.
However, students, like senior public relations major Makayla Crane, are also trying to stay positive. Crane said seniors graduating should try to remain optimistic during this difficult time.
“We need to go with the flow and look on the bright side as much as possible. This is something you can’t plan around,” Crane said.
Stone agreed with Crane, in part.
“These are trying times. What you do and how you persevere through this time will speak volumes to your determination and work ethic. Don’t give up, because there will be a breaking point with COVID-19,” Stone said.
Experts suggest people should remain healthy and follow social distancing guidelines to help reduce the spread of the virus. Research into a vaccine has been started, with about 102 candidates worldwide being tested. Economic experts said if everything works out, the economy could bounce back in the second half of 2020.
“Follow the rules, flatten the curve, and prepare yourself for a world full of opportunities because we will bounce back. We will make it, and we will be stronger than ever,” Stone said.