LITTLE ROCK (KATV) — Thousands of college students in Arkansas will be graduating in the coming weeks.
Before the coronavirus pandemic forced businesses and schools to close, college graduates were expected to enter into a strong workforce.
But now, recent grads are entering an economy and job market that has been flipped upside down.
Brittany Fugate will graduate from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock on Saturday.
The pandemic means she, along with the rest of her class, won’t have a traditional sendoff.
“I kind of saw it coming, but it was still really upsetting because we had a lot of really fun events lined up we were excited about,” she said.
On top of shifting to online classes and finishing college work at home, the history major looking to start her career is having to change plans.
Many companies are putting a freeze on hiring and are suspending internships.
“It’s definitely been really challenging because there’s been a lot of places that have vacancies, but they’re sort of holding off until the pandemic is over,” Fugate said. “It’s kind of just a big waiting game.”
Arkansas Economic Forecaster Michael Pakko says recent college graduates are entering the most challenging job market in at least a decade.
“I think the best advice for college graduates is to have some patience, and don’t let yourself be stagnant,” he said. “Find some way to fill the gap between now and when the next opportunity arises.”
Pakko says the downturn makes it difficult to predict when jobs will become plentiful again.
Until then, Pakko recommends finding temporary work if available, taking online classes or getting involved in volunteer opportunities.
“Showing that kind of involvement and initiative always looks good on your resume when the jobs do become a little bit more plentiful,” he said.
As recent grads like Fugate continue to look for their next opportunity, she shares some advice for the class of 2020.
“Some of the jobs you apply for might not be exactly what you want right now, but at it will get your foot in the door,” she said. “Just keep your options open, and keep your hopes high.”
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