By Sandy Sponaugle
Posted on May 20, 2020
Filed under: Blog, Guest Blog, News

[Guest Blog] What It’s Like to Graduate in 2020

Ever wondered what it’s like to graduate college in the middle of the pandemic? Today, our Marketing Intern Caitlin Propheter, 2020 Graduate of Virginia Tech, is sharing her personal perspective on graduating in the midst of COVID, as well as tips for graduates seeking their first post-college job or internship at this time.

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Caitlin Propheter

Finishing College and Entering the “Real World” During COVID

At the beginning of my senior year, a lot of mixed emotions came along with the realization that the best four years of my life were coming to an end. Although I was sad to leave the place I called home and the friends who became more like family, I was eager for the new experiences and increased independence that the next chapter of my life held. However, I wasn’t sure what exactly that would entail.

With the start of fall semester came the start of the gruesome and discouraging job search process. It’s difficult to know you’re in an over-saturated competition with equally qualified candidates who likely have connections that you lack. I figured I would dedicate even more time to applications after spring break and hopefully nail something before graduation.

But after one last hoorah in Key West, things didn’t go as planned. Instead of getting even more acquainted with Indeed.com and LinkedIn, a global pandemic hit and the economy changed overnight.

The information about how industries were being hit by COVID-19 was extremely disheartening. I worked hard my entire life to be prepared post-graduation, only to enter a world where no amount of knowledge or work experience would land me a job when other people were losing theirs.

I followed up on a possible internship opportunity with Sandy, thinking that the likelihood the position was still available was slim due to the faltering economy.

To my surprise, she decided to take a chance and hire me as an intern.

Completing My Senior Year From My Childhood Home

Following the announcement that campus would be closed, I moved home to avoid being exposed to the virus.

Fortunately, with modern technology, I was able to complete my coursework online with little difficulty. My professors were extremely accommodating, understanding that they had to make concessions given that things didn’t go as planned.

I’m okay with an online graduation ceremony. I feel sorry for my friends who dreamed of following in their parents footsteps by graduating from Virginia Tech, as well as first-generation students whose families didn’t get to watch them walk across the stage.

Starting A College Internship Virtually

Interning with Platinum PR has allowed me to get experience related to marketing before completing my degree. I like being able to work outside the hours of 9-5, but it’s difficult starting a position and only having an hour a day (as opposed to eight) to get to know your team.

Sandy, Ellen, and Sophie have been very responsive, flexible, and easy to work with. Sending an email or text isn’t the most convenient way to communicate simple questions, but our team-building exercises have made me feel comfortable enough to contact them through any platform at any time.

Tips For Recent Graduates Who Are Struggling To Find Work

The statistics we hear about the economy and unemployment right now are incredibly discouraging. Even when the world is not in the midst of a global pandemic, it can be tough to get a job right out of college.

However, even right now, there are companies thriving and seeking new talent. Here are some tips I’d suggest to my fellow recent graduates who are looking for work.

Tip #1: Be persistent. You won’t gain anything by doing nothing, so be persistent. Keep submitting applications and exploring connections. Talk to your parents, your friends’ parents, and your teachers because they might know someone with an opportunity. People can’t help you if you don’t ask for it.

Tip #2. Have an open mind. Older, more qualified people are unfortunately losing their jobs right now. Without undervaluing yourself, recognize that any opportunity to learn and develop your resume is a good opportunity. If you work hard and are open about your interests, you’ll benefit from the experience and at the very least have a good reference to fall back on.

Tip #3. Learn online. There are many well-respected schools and companies offering online services. You can continue to learn and become a more attractive candidate by getting certifications.

Now can also be a good time to self-reflect and visualize your future. Do you like the path you’re on? If not, now might be a good time to explore changing direction.

What I’d Love People to Know About the Class of 2020 

I think it’s important that people understand that, for a while, we might only have a diploma to show for our accomplishments. I’m lucky that someone gave me a chance to prove myself.

The class of 2020 isn’t lazy, and they won’t let you down. My peers’ work ethic has impressed me on numerous occasions. One of my roommates took over 15 credits, studied for the LSAT, held an internship, was a teaching assistant, and was an active member of a sorority… all in one semester. Millennials have a bad reputation, but I’m confident about our abilities. We are dedicated, passionate, hardworking, and deserving of the opportunities that will hopefully come our way.

Best,

Caitlin

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