After dealing with the disappointment of being unable to have a traditional ceremony, spring 2020 graduates face an even more sobering reality: applying for jobs in an economy with unemployment rates unseen since the Great Depression.
Florida International University, the University of Miami and hundreds of other colleges and universities nationwide have cancelled spring commencement and offered a virtual ceremony or the chance to walk a different semester.
FIU senior Pablo Alvarez understands, but it is tough for him. “I’m the first in my family to graduate with a bachelor’s so having this opportunity stripped away is awful for my whole family,” he said.
But missing graduation isn’t the only thing graduates worry about. In the last two weeks, about 10 million Americans have applied for unemployment, a considerably higher figure than in any point in recent history.
Milena Zambrano, another FIU spring graduate, said she has had a number of internships cancelled or postponed.
“I remember one of my economics professors telling me that people who graduate in a recession tend to earn less,” she said.
University of Florida senior Justin Wald said he would like to get back to work.
“I am not too worried about the situation, but I am still unemployed,” said the sports management major. “Because of the coronavirus, I lost a paid internship in support management that could open so many doors, and I am not happy about it.”
FIU student Juan Jimenez said it feels like a waiting game at this point.
“I am graduating in the summer,” he said. “I am not sure how graduation or life after that is going to look like. I feel pressured because I need to be financially independent, but I can only wait at this point.”
And a number are considering graduate school.
“I applied for grad school for the summer and I got in,” said UF senior Charite Carballo, who is graduating this spring. “I am taking in-person classes, but I’m pretty sure that the virus will force the school to switch to remote learning. I haven’t received any updates yet.”
(Editor’s note: This story is part of a series describing the transformational effect of the coronavirus on the young. For more stories, click here.)