How 2020 college grads can still start a career during COVID-19

By  | 

WASHINGTON (Gray DC)-- The class of 2020 has traded caps and gowns for loungewear and packed stadiums for computer screens. For most, finishing school marks the beginning of a career path. But this year's graduates, like Catherine Haufe, said they don't know where to start in a COVID-19 job market.

2020 Bridgewater College graduate, Catherine Haufe, talks about her post-grad plans changing due to COVID-19. (Source: Gray DC)

"We're in this weird middle phase like we were college students, but we're not working yet," Haufe said.

Haufe planned to spend a year working in a physical therapy office before pursuing a graduate degree in the field. She said she lined up the job but can't start until the company reopens, and she doesn't know when that will be.

Haufe said she turned to her alma mater, Bridgewater College, for guidance but hasn't gotten much.

"There's no set in stone path right now because everything's up in the air," she said.

Some 30 million Americans have filed for unemployment since mid-March. Federal job data lags behind the pandemic, only covering through the end of February.
But career coaches insist new grads shouldn't give up on finding work.

"The basic nuts and bolts of finding a job now versus before are the same," said career coach Fran Berrick.

The founder of Spearmint Coaching conceded this job market may require a longer search and more compromises.

While her young clients wait for the right opportunity, she suggested using downtime to build resumes through virtual workshops, additional classes and networking.

"The idea is to stay active and motivated," Berrick said.

And her number one lesson for recent grads: don't let rejection turn into defeat. Keep searching and keep applying.

"Don't stop!" Berrick said.

The data on job openings for March is expected to be released this month from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, so those looking for work will get a look at how COVID-19 has changed the market.

Copyright 2020 Gray DC. All rights reserved.