Entering the Workforce Post-Pandemic: Tips and Tricks to Navigating the New Market
Updated: 2 days ago
By Amanda McCallum
I have always been told that all you need to do to get a good job is to go to college and graduate. Well, here I am, an incoming senior at UCLA with a competitive GPA, and I am finding this statement to be much less true than I once thought. Growing up, pandemics were a thing of movies and history, not something that actually happened – or so I thought. Apart from disrupting normal societal functions, the COVID-19 pandemic also had a profound impact on the job market in the United States, and these effects are still present today. So, how do we adjust to this new reality?
The Job Market Has Changed: According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, COVID-19 and the resulting economic fallout caused tens of millions of people to lose their jobs. As society begins to normalize, experienced professionals who became unemployed during the pandemic are flooding back into the job market in search of work. This raises a question – how are college graduates just beginning their careers supposed to compete with older, more seasoned individuals? Long answer short – they aren’t – and employers know this. Because the market is currently oversaturated with applicants, even entry-level positions can be difficult to find. The right company, however, will be willing to invest in someone greener by comparison if they see enough potential.
Money, Money, Money: With food and living prices ballooning in recent years, it is no surprise that money is at the forefront of most people’s minds when it comes to work. It is important to remember, however, that experience itself is invaluable – especially for those just entering the job market. At this stage, learning should be the main focus, not money. While a high-paying job may be the end goal, it is sometimes necessary to first prove yourself in a lower, less financially lucrative position.
Make Connections, Everywhere: You never know where you could meet a potential connection. While corporate conventions, job fairs, and business luncheons are great for networking, these are not the only places valuable for meeting new contacts. Whether it’s at the grocery store, hair salon, or your favorite local restaurant, an everyday conversation could turn into a new opportunity if you meet the right person. For example, my high school Latin teacher became my boss thanks to a random conversation we had one day after class. With that being said, do not be afraid to make the first move. While rejection can be unnerving, sometimes the hardest conversations are the most rewarding.
Be Open to New Experiences: At one point or another, almost every child in the United States is asked “What do you want to be when you grow up?”. I know I was. From a very young age, we are practically conditioned to answer this question even though many, including employed adults, are still not entirely sure. When first starting off in your career, keeping an open mind is often times better than having a detailed plan for the future. After all, you never know what you like (and don’t) until you try it.
Don’t Give Up: Finding a job right now is hard, especially for college students and recent graduates. While not every interview or job listing will result in success, it is important to keep trying and not give up, even if that means broadening your search. I spent only a couple of months looking for a good job in my prospective field this past summer; however, those couple of months were extremely frustrating and disheartening. After what seems like countless rejections and dead ends, it can be hard to stay motivated. Regardless of what happens, remember that the right opportunity for you is out there somewhere. I eventually found JCI Worldwide, a public relations firm that closely aligned with my goals and ideologies, and I now have the opportunity to explore my passions. While it is easier said than done, don’t give up, your perfect fit is out there somewhere too.