Graduation and life after college during a pandemic

Camryn Kocher

College students are facing new and unique challenges during the pandemic including worries about the future and stress about job prospects. Many are having trouble finding internships because of the pandemic and the circumstances that go along with it.

Megan Medfisch, a senior public relations major, was expected to graduate in the spring of 2022, but because of  COVID-19, she will graduate this fall of 2021.

“I figured I would do the full four years, but as the pandemic hit and everything went online, I didn’t want to continue doing college virtually.”

Graduates are also facing adversity while taking classes during a pandemic. 

“Post grad life is crazy,” said Leah Marxen, a 2020 public relations and marketing graduate. “The biggest change was that I was supposed to move to Arizona after graduation. I had to push it back until it was safer to travel.”

Finding careers during the pandemic can also be difficult for graduates because of the transition of many jobs to a virtual setting.

“The hardest thing for me is meeting people in my professional network and socially,” Marxen said. “I’m lucky I graduated before COVID, but it was still tough getting through it all.”

Jaryn Lindenmuth, 2019 graduate with a double major in child psychology and human development and a family studies minor. “I got to graduate right before COVID, but if I had to graduate virtually, I would have been very upset,” Lindenmuth said.

Lindenmuth graduated a semester earlier than the rest of her friends. “Initially I was super bummed but when I look back on it, I’m lucky,” she said. “I feel bad my friends couldn’t get that same cathartic goodbye experience.”

“What makes COVID harder is that we don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel,” she said.

Her advice to undergraduate students is to cherish all the moments during college. She said, “Even in the moments of stress and anger. Pause and enjoy it because you will miss the good and the bad.”

Dani Langworthy, 2020 graduate with a psychology and conflict management graduate, had to deal with the new job interviewing process that is now virtual. Interviews ask a series of personal questions pertaining to COVID that wasn’t asked before the pandemic outbreak. “It is weird being asked where I’ve been and who I’ve been around,” Langworthy said.

Students like Langworthy also had a unique experience during graduation. “I had a pre-recorded graduation; it was very disappointing and didn’t fulfill that experience,” she said. Langworthy is the first in her family to graduate college and wanted to have that nostalgic experience and be there to walk the stage.

Brandon Palazzo, a 2019 graduate with a business analytics major and went back to Kent for his masters right before COVID. He said that dealing with the uncertainty is a big struggle.

“There are a lot of pro’s and con’s to virtual learning and internships,” Palazzo said. “The direct co-op going into a full position isn’t as nearly as prominent as they were.” 

Students looking for internships are facing various new changes very different from past year graduates.“The job outlook may not be bad for undergraduates because they are comfortable with the virtual aspect. This is a preface to the future and how job hunting will be now,” Langworthy said.

Langworthy enjoyed her college experience overall and her advice is to be flexible in school and in the real world. “It is very easy to get comfortable being online, especially during this time.”

Palazzo’s advice to students is patience. “It’s a different learning style and is new to many people that are used to traditional learning.”

The Career Exploration and Development team at Kent State assists students in finding careers and growing connections with future employers. This is an opportunity to gain experience and network. The team is holding a virtual fair that will take place on Thursday, Feb 25 from 10a.m- 3p.m. The virtual fair is open to all Kent State students and alumni of all majors and grade levels. Register here.

Camryn Kocher is a student life reporter. Contact her at [email protected]