Advice for college students about to graduate into unprecedented unemployment

Instead of walking side-by-side with their classmates into a graduation ceremony, college students are walking into the worst job market since the Great Depression.

Graduating without a job in their field of study is one thing, but graduating into a pandemic is not what students had planned.

Wendy Zanarotti, CEO of Help Unlimited Temps in D.C. said recent graduates shouldn’t sit idly because of the current state of the economy.

There are a handful of things the class of 2020 can do now even if employers are not hiring.

  • Use your time off to research where you’d like to work
  • Work on a cover letter and resume that sets you apart
  • Clean up any social media posts you’d rather an employer didn’t see
  • Keep up with current events
  • Consider doing volunteer or charity work to help during the pandemic

If you’re helping others during this time by delivering meals or making masks, Zanarotti said that is something which could also set you apart once things reopen and you find a position to apply to.

“It shows that they haven’t been … sitting idle, they’ve been doing what they can to help other people, because — seriously — employers love that,” she said.

Zanarotti said even though it may not be a job in their preferred field, a person may have skills or experience that could translate to an available position in another field. After all, it’s work that can hold them over through the pandemic.

An example of that, she said, is the recent posting of positions for coronavirus contact tracers in D.C.

“Basically, the requirement really is more of a technical capacity, with them having the right type of equipment at home, which is a computer,” Zanarotti said.

Finally, she said the economy will eventually reopen.

“Keep hope alive,” Zanarotti advised.


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Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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