For 72% of college students, the stress and uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic has added to the difficulty of looking for a job, with 74% saying companies are unresponsive to job applications, new research shows.
RippleMatch’s report, “Navigating Entry-Level Jobs and Internships During COVID-19,” focused on the virus’ impact on college students trying to enter the workforce. Researchers surveyed 2,210 student participants from 367 institutions.
“This is an unprecedented time,” said Andrew Myers, founder and chief executive officer at RippleMatch. “From a historical perspective, that means it’s essential to collect data on how college students are navigating employment right now.”
Myers added that although there is data on the virus’ current economic impact, such as on unemployment rates, the information doesn’t show “how graduating seniors are faring as they begin their careers or how college juniors are grappling with adaptations to summer internship programs.”
Despite the complications caused by the coronavirus, 56% of respondents are still actively searching for a job or internship while 38% have secured one either during or prior to the start of the virus outbreak. Additionally, 6% of students have completely stopped their job search as they believe companies have no interest in hiring at this time, according to the survey.
“A year ago, the class of 2019 graduated into one of the best job markets in recent history,” said Myers. “Now, the class of 2020 faces an employment landscape tinged by economic uncertainty, which affects which jobs are available. That said, the job market for highly-educated college graduates is far from hopeless. There are many companies such as those in tech and healthcare that will need to increase their headcount to tackle the challenges that lie ahead. One of the biggest challenges students will face is finding these jobs, as they aren’t in highly visible industries such as entertainment or travel.”
A majority of companies and employers still remain committed to their new entry-level hires and interns, with 60% of internship programs set to continue. Of that number, 46% of programs will become remote while 14% will delay start dates or shorten internship programs, the report found.
“Learning about the challenges students are facing in their job search or understanding how students feel about remote work will help employers shape their early-career programs, benefitting young professionals in the long run,” said Myers.
On the other hand, 24% of students have still not received information about their programs. For 16% of respondents, their job offer had been revoked or their internship program had been canceled due to the pandemic, the research showed.
“Many employers recognize the long-term investment of interns and entry-level employees and they aren’t reneging on their commitments to address short-term challenges,” said Myers. “For employers that unfortunately did have to cancel their internship programs, many did their best to accommodate interns and stay connected for full-time opportunities the year after. It’s a great indicator that many companies won’t sacrifice long-term talent investment even in tough times.”
Additionally, students currently involved in the job search process are facing a number of challenges. As much as 83% of respondents said they are finding it difficult to figure out which companies are still hiring.
Now, to expand their options, 72% of students are looking outside of their preferred role type and 68% are looking outside of their preferred industry in order to find a job, according to the report.
“It presents an opportunity for employers who are hiring to get in front of a group of students who might not have previously considered their roles or industries,” said Myers.
Since one of the biggest challenges currently facing students in the hiring process is the uncertainty over who’s hiring, Myers recommended that institutions’ career centers use alumni networks to show active job openings and educate students about the variety of career paths and industries they can tap.
“There are countless jobs that students are qualified for, but don’t know that they exist because they don’t stem from a specific major,” he added.
Myers recommended that companies still well positioned to continue the hiring search process should also inform college freshmen and sophomores about their open opportunities. For example, they should share information about their industry, positions and company with students in their first or second year of college.
“It will take time for the economy to recover, so it will be helpful for students to learn about potential career prospects after college directly from companies who are still hiring,” said Myers.
Sarah Wood can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.