Recent college graduates and seniors at the University of Wisconsin feel optimistic about the job search process as more companies are willing to hire students in the current post-pandemic era, UW Media Information and Communication Career Advisor Pamela Garcia-Rivera said.
The unemployment rate for recent college graduates between the ages of 22 and 27 hit its peak at 13.6% in June 2020, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The unemployment rate declined to 6.2% in June 2021, almost twice as low as the year before, FRBNY stated.
Now that they have adjusted to remote work during the pandemic, many companies are currently hiring, Garcia-Rivera said. Because of this, recent graduates feel confident searching for jobs, she said.
Interest in the search for remote work has increased by 360% from June 2019 to June 2021 and continues to grow, according to research published by job site Glassdoor. The reopening of the economy caused this new interest to stabilize and this year, more people are seeking in-person jobs than last year.
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The job search is going well for the journalism students, Garcia-Rivera said. She has seen a recent increase in promotions, recruitments and internships, especially in the last few months.
“I’m anticipating that many companies that might have not hired in the past year or two for summer interns will definitely be hiring this summer,” Garcia-Rivera said.
Positions in technology are increasing too, SuccessWorks Technology, Data and Analytics career and internship specialist Beth Karabin said.
Students looking for a career in technology are finding many opportunities because these jobs require the technical background that a college education can provide, Karabin said.
Due to the boom of the technology industry, fields complementary to technology are also seeing a rise in job opportunities, which would benefit graduates who may not have technical backgrounds, Karabin said.
“Sometimes the jobs won’t be what you expected because the fields are brand new,” Karabin said. “It’s important for students to be flexible as they look at positions, but it’s exciting to see how many new roles and new types of technologies are coming into use for students.”
In April 2021, the number of job postings on Indeed exceeded the number of postings at the beginning of the pandemic by 22.4% according to a study by Indeed Hiring Lab.
This increase in job opportunities and hiring in recent months is due to the economy bouncing back, Karabin said. When the markets were unstable due to the pandemic, companies were wary of hiring new people.
“As things improve slightly, the market responds,” Karabin said. “Employers are trying to fill positions that they had vacant for a long time at this point, and so that’s why there’s a lot of activity out there now.”
Lukas Leijon, a senior at the UW-Madison School of Business, found an internship last year after using campus resources like the school’s career engagement team and virtual career fair, Leijon said. He recently received a return offer from the business he interned with.
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Leijon knew some people who lost their internships after they were canceled during the peak of the pandemic last year. But now, more opportunities are available, Leijon said.
“It seems like a lot of companies are very open to hiring now,” Leijon said. “They’re a lot less worried than they were [in] spring 2020.”
Students have many resources at their disposal during their hunt for jobs, Karabin said. For example, SuccessWorks can advise students for two years after they graduate.
Recent graduates who came to Karabin for career advising are having success in their job searches, getting interviews and positions in their chosen fields, Karabin said.
For students struggling to find jobs, there are other ways to build professional experience, such as completing short-term projects, working unpaid internships and connecting with employers, Garcia-Rivera said.
But companies can hire more employees now that most of them are used to working from home, Garcia-Rivera said.
“I think a lot of companies and organizations have also figured out how to do some things remotely,” Garcia-Rivera said. “Businesses have accommodated people into a remote world.”
As a career advisor, Garcia-Rivera has had to adjust to doing her job remotely as well, assisting students in various ways throughout the pandemic, she said.
Though the pandemic changed the way career advising worked, it did not halt Leijon’s job search, he said. He had to look for jobs during the height of the pandemic last year, utilizing online campus resources and job search websites, rather than in-person networking opportunities.
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“I think the tough part was just transitioning into a more virtual means of communicating with people at the job,” Leijon said. “Doing informational interviews with former graduates or alumni that work at that company had to be moved completely to a phone or Zoom basis rather than getting coffee on campus or something like that.”
Whether in-person or on Zoom, making connections is a great way to get into specific fields, Karabin said. Professionals and employers at career fairs and virtual events can be great resources for students looking for jobs.
As the economy recovers, Garcia-Rivera encourages students and graduates to remain optimistic as they look for employment.
“Continue to make connections,” Garcia-Rivera said. “Keep your eyes open for other opportunities, maybe take opportunities that are not your number-one opportunity but something that still interests you, so you can be part of the workforce and gain experience.”