COVID-19 is Changing Graduating Seniors’ Plans


Contributed// Garrett Mueller

Garrett Mueller interned in the office of Senator Diane Feinstein and hoped to continue to work on Capitol Hill until COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders forced him to return home to California sooner than planned.

Kaeleah Isaac, Reporter

This year’s graduating class is facing an unprecedented challenge as they apply and compete for jobs, graduate school and internships during a global pandemic. 

“It’s completely wrecked my post graduation plans, if I’m going to be honest,” California Lutheran University senior Kimberly Lee said. “More people are getting laid off than hired right now, and now [at] the places that are hiring the competition is going to be even stiffer.” 

According to a report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “the labor market data… for March broadly reflect the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.” The total nonfarm payroll, or payroll from goods, construction and manufacturing companies, fell by about 700,000 during the month of March. 

Senior Garrett Mueller was interning in Senator Diane Feinstein’s office in Washington D.C. with the Lutheran College Washington Semester when program organizers determined it was best practice to send students home in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Mueller said he was left with no choice but to quit his internship and move back home to California, though he was intending to stay in D.C. after graduation to seek full-time employment on the Hill.

“I never anticipated returning to California after the program, but now here I am,” Mueller said.

Senior Christian Hernandez said prior to the pandemic he was hoping to be offered a full-time position at the company he is currently interning with. 

“I had an unpaid market research internship at a local company, but I haven’t been assigned any projects since quarantine began,” Hernandez said. “I have no idea where they stand… anymore, after all of this.”

The global pandemic has added to the usual stress and uncertainty many seniors experience as they approach graduation. Many have been forced to rethink their original plans and scramble to find new opportunities.

“This pandemic has changed my hopes of graduation, a championship run with the [Cal Lutheran] baseball team, a research conference, quality time with friends, and my job as a resident assistant,” senior Cortez Espinoza said. “I [had] work as a physical therapy aide. However, I was forced to move back home.”  

Senior Brian Schlosser was planning on working for a year before obtaining his teaching credential, he said that his plan now seems uncertain. 

“Considering how good the economy was before the pandemic started affecting us more, I’m worried about the length of time it’s going to take for it to recover. I think the job market is going to look pretty tough for maybe even a couple years after this is all over,” Schlosser said. 

The major job cuts across the nation’s businesses have affected millions, specifically those intending to enter the market as graduating seniors. 

Last Thursday, the AP reported that an additional 6.6 million workers are unemployed, which makes up a total of 10 million American jobless claims filed in the past two weeks.

At Cal Lutheran, many seniors have already begun to feel the pressure following the effects of the job market post-pandemic. 

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t [worried]. I honestly have no idea what kind of work I will find, or where I will even be,” Mueller said.“It’s going to be vicious to get an entry-level job and I feel bad for those whose offers were rescinded… I’m applying for work but it’s especially hard knowing people all around are getting laid off.”

Lee is continuing to apply to jobs during her time in quarantine but nonetheless is still worried about what her future career will look like post-pandemic. 

“I’m super worried about it,” Lee said. “It’s absolutely my biggest stressor in this whole situation… I’m trying to keep an optimistic attitude, but it’s just something that’s very unpredictable at this moment.” 

Hernandez added that in times like these he encourages everyone to keep in contact with their friends and have a stable group to turn to for support. 

“I advise seniors to reach out to one another, keep in contact with those in your [academic] major and if you hear of any opportunities share them or if you know someone that you know would be interested send it to them,” Lee said. “I think we all just need to be supported and keep each other focused on the fact that this isn’t forever for us.”