Students lost in the job hunt


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — The pandemic has affected thousands of people’s jobs here in Illinois. We have seen a serious increase in unemployment, but it is also affecting people who haven’t even started their careers yet.

For many university students, the hard work that comes with getting a degree is all worth it when they land that dream job.

The U of I Career Center helps students find jobs or internships that help bridge the gap from campus to career, but this year is different.

“There’s been a decrease in the number of positions that are posted, as well as hiring activity relative to what we would typically see in April and May,” says center director Jennifer Neef.

She says some students have become lost in the job hunt. Those still searching are in tough positions, and many with post-grad job plans already in place are faced with indefinite delays in start dates. Internships that help build experience for the future are especially at-risk.

“The national data indicates that there’s only been about 5% of full-time offers [that have] been revoked, however there’s about 20% of the internships that hve been revoked,” says Neef.

That data is from the National Association of Colleges and Employers. In terms of numbers at the U of I, the center says it is helping dozens of students work through this setback, but suspects that there are hundreds more in the same boat who may not be using its services.

Neef says the center is guiding students to think outside the box, such as volunteer opportunities, part-time positions, and expanding career interests.

“We learned from the past recession that disengaging from the search and disengaging from the opportunities that are out there are likely to have longer-term detrimental impacts,” says Neef.

But she says graduating in the age of the pandemic makes it all different.

“The economy was really good and the labor market was really good prior to the pandemic, [but] the impact is yet to be seen because the economic indicators [are] so much different this time than they were in the previous recession,” says Neef.

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