Thinking to the Future: Life after College and COVID
By: Grace Harris
Photos: Freepik, Pixabay, Pexels
“As we have just reached the one-year anniversary of the quarantine, many of the practices that are currently implemented, like wearing masks and social distancing, have become ingrained in our daily routines. The idea of a COVID-free world seems almost like a distant dream as of late. ”
As we have just reached the one-year anniversary of the quarantine, many of the practices that are currently implemented, like wearing masks and social distancing, have become ingrained in our daily routines. The idea of a COVID-free world seems almost like a distant dream as of late. But as many of us progress through our college careers and get closer to graduation, we will be either entering the workforce while the pandemic is still on or right after we have beaten coronavirus. With that, much is still unknown about the potential career opportunities we may all have, even what the professional world will look like in the future.
The structure of a post-COVID professional world will be very different from what generations will have experienced before. The United States is facing an unemployment crisis. The rates of unemployment are currently declining, but will not reach what it was prior to COVID until long after the pandemic has been resolved. Young adults are one specific demographic who have been hardest hit. As of February 2021, those aged 20-24 have an average unemployment rate of 9.6%, while it was 6.3% last April. Though it is projected to continue decreasing, we will still be entering a world significantly more competitive than when this all started.
This alteration in the professional world has led many students to rethink their plans after graduation as well as their prospective careers. This pandemic has shown the importance of essential jobs in our economy. The leisure and hospitality industry has been one that has especially hit hard, losing 47% of its total workforce. As a result of this shift, many people have started pursuing positions in fields like communications, biotech, and logistics because of the stability and expanding opportunities offered within. Trends like this help to show where we are headed as a nation, the importance of certain industries, and what careers are essential to our countries continued existence.
The milestones that many are expected to reach in their early 20s – moving out of their parent’s houses, getting their first full-time job, getting one’s first apartment, even just socializing – has become halted because of the roadblocks brought about by the coronavirus. The dream of many to move to large cities after they graduate, even just moving cross country, has become a daunting idea to many. New York City, the most populated city in the United States, has seen a dramatic decrease in its number of residents. Prior to the pandemic, its population had been around eight and a half million people, but between January 1st and December 7th, 2020, over three and a half million people have fled the city.
So where is one meant to go from here? What opportunities available will depend greatly on what year one graduates. Hopefully, the rollout of vaccines will bring with it the reopening of the economy, as well as job opportunities for the current 10-million-some Americans out of work. Much is still unsure but at the very least, the pandemic has helped to bring to light what is essential for our society to run in a proper manner and how we can prepare for future pandemics in the future. It is often that trials and tribulations bring about a reassessment of one’s state and thus, a major change in society. All major tragedies and movements in the past 20 years have brought about change and readjustment subsequently: 9/11, Columbine, Civil Rights, and Black Lives Matter. All have impacts upon us whether or not we originally choose to make changes. Though it may take time, we readjust and attempt to restructure what we view as the norm. At the very least, that is the silver lining in all of this, that through this epidemic we can learn how to deal with illnesses like this in the future because whether we like it or not, there will be another epidemic eventually. With that as well, we know that our country will bounce back – though it may take time, we will come back from this stronger as a nation and hopefully more unified.