Syracuse seniors forced to alter job search strategy due to COVID-19

Syracuse seniors alter job search strategy due to COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic has soon-to-be college graduates heading into the United States' worst job market in over a decade.
Published: April 15, 2020
Woman searching laptop in living area

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to sweep across the United States, college seniors who once anticipated entering the workforce immediately after graduation have been forced to change their plans. About 16.8 million Americans have filed for unemployment in the last three weeks according to the United States Labor Department, leaving soon-to-be graduates less than hopeful to land a job in the near future.

In response to the downward-spiraling job market, Syracuse University students have had to alter their approach to every aspect of job-hunting — networking, sending emails, filing applications and more. 

Caroline Davis, a sport management senior in the Falk College, originally pursued positions with teams in the National Hockey League (NHL). But with the NHL now in a hiring challenge, Davis shifted her focus to positions in the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the National Football League (NFL). Since, she has mostly stayed in contact with her established connections rather than trying to form new ones.

“I’ve stopped sending as many cold emails,” Davis said. “I either don’t get a response or am told that now isn’t a great time.”

Magazine senior Sari Kamp had been sending cold emails over the last few months but has since stopped, resorting to just communication with her existing network. Because Kamp is pursuing a position in an industry that hires quickly, her search hadn’t been “full force,” she said. Now, with positions as sparse they have been in over a decade, Kamp’s connections in the magazine industry told her the hiring process will be far slower than usual, prompting Kamp to seek alternate, potentially remote summer employment. 

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Magazine senior Sari Kamp during her internship for Real Simple magazine.

Others have halted their processes almost entirely. Broadcast and digital journalism senior Jason Herman stopped applying for jobs and sending cold emails. Herman said he has been “less persistent” and is allowing more time between follow-up emails. In the meantime, he’s been focusing on refining his résumé and cover letters. 

“Be prepared,” Herman said of his new mindset. “Control what you can control.”

Those who secured jobs or internships prior to the pandemic also have unanswered questions. Health and exercise science senior Isabel Reedy was supposed to begin her job as a research assistant for two physicians on June 1 but is now “unsure” if she still has a job. The last communication she had with her employer was an email exchange discussing the details of her position before the COVID-19 outbreak began in the country.

Broadcast and digital journalism junior Cooper Boardman accepted the play-by-play announcer job for the Brooklyn Cyclones, a minor league affiliate of the New York Mets. The status of Boardman’s internship hinges on whether the minor league season happens, he said. Prior to the pandemic, he emailed back-and-forth with his employer several times a week. Now, he says emails come in once a week.

Cape Cod League reporter NAME interviews a Chatham player
Broadcast and Digital Journalism junior Cooper Boardman has interned with the Chatham Anglers the past two summers.

“Communication has been minimal at this point,” Boardman said. “It’s not for any reason other than nobody really knows what’s going to happen. Not even Major League Baseball knows what’s going to happen with Minor League Baseball.”

There are also some students who have constantly been reassured their jobs are safe. Broadcast and digital journalism senior Jack McMullen, like Boardman, is a play-by-play announcer for a minor league baseball team, the Fort Wayne Tincaps. McMullen has been in contact with his employer and co-workers several times a week via email and Zoom and conducts media relations work from home, he said.

Accounting and finance senior Chris Zimmerman is projected to begin his job in September. His employer recently emailed all incoming hires to assure their jobs are safe.

According to Forbes, major companies, particularly in transportation, professional sports or hospitality industries, have already or are close to rescinding job and internship offers. Companies like Delta Airlines, JetBlue, Adobe, NBC Sports and Marriott have implemented hiring freezes. Forbes also suggests that students yet to land a job keep working their school’s alumni network while staying patient.