Don’t Forget About Us- The 2020 Students Graduating In a Pandemic
“So what’s next?” The words every graduate dreads to hear and even more so this year. As 2020 graduates we have the misfortune of entering the job market at one of the worst times ever, if not the worst. There’s a global pandemic for starters, the economy is in shreds and there’s minimal jobs which we’re all fighting over. It’s a bit bleak.
It’s certainly not the end to our years at university we hoped for. Instead we’re all like little lost lambs aimlessly scrolling through LinkedIn and job pages for something and anything to apply for. It’s tiring and for many of us is starting to feel a bit hopeless. A study by the UK's National Union of Students found 81% of respondents said they were concerned about the effect that the coronavirus crisis will have on their own job prospects and 71% were concerned about the impact it will have on their employability.
It’s not surprising as many of us, including myself, have had assessments changed and work experience cancelled or postponed. It’s easy to put yourself down and compare your CV to what it could have been. I know that I feel less qualified, despite completing a degree from a great university. I should feel proud, and I do, but with the placements I know I could have had shining out at employers, it’s hard not to think ‘what if?’ There’s also a massive pressure to get a job straight out of university. Eight in ten students feel pressure to get a job within six months of graduating, according to YouGov. I definitely feel that pressure. The day I handed in my final piece of university work I started applications for jobs. Clearly, I’m bonkers but in a non- existent job market I felt the need to get applying straight away. It’s terrifying. A job is posted and within two days it will have over 200 applicants. The competition is crazy and intense. I may have been a bit naive but I thought I would finish my degree and then waltz into a shiny new job. Just like that. Pain free. Sadly, that is definitely not the case, having a degree no longer sets you apart in a job market and it’s definitely no piece of cake to get your foot in the door. And that’s without a pandemic. Put that on top and it seems near impossible to ever be hired.
Part of me wishes I could cling onto university, especially as our final years were cut short by a global pandemic. So much has been taken from us, the chance to celebrate and say goodbye to a city we have lived in and loved for the past three or so years. I know so many people who have signed up for ‘panic masters’ and I wish there was a master’s degree worth me doing; just for the comfort blanket of staying in education that little bit longer. But I also want to be out in the adult working world. I just need someone to take me on and give me a chance.
I wish we got a bit more sympathy. Just 18% of us have secured jobs according to research by Milkround and Dig-In. Compare that to the 60% who have got something secured in a normal year. That’s a lot of graduates left battling it out. A note to employers - please recognise that this is a terrifyingly difficult time for us and if you’re rejecting us give us feedback if you can or at least give us the decency of actually telling us that you won’t be taking our application any further. I know it’s hard. Employers probably don’t have the time when jobs are being oversubscribed with applications but as a graduate I know I would appreciate it. Coronavirus has rocked the boat, if not capsized it, and left so many people struggling. Students are one of these groups of people and the support is limited. We’re now entering a world of record high unemployment and little entry level opportunities. Many businesses are not hiring, internships are cancelled or not running, and graduate salaries are beginning to slip.
So on behalf of the class of 2020 I ask you not to ask us ‘what’s next?’. This simple question just makes our anxiety rise even further through the roof. A lot of us don’t know, or we’re trying really hard, scraping at the barrel to get on the career ladder and we really don’t want to talk about it. So please, instead try to be empathetic towards our situation and help us where you can.
2020 graduates are here and we should not be forgotten!