After Graduation, What’s Next?

Neeraj Venkatesh / Staff Writer

Due to COVID-19, high unemployment rates have created challenges for many FIU alumni entering the workforce.

As unemployment rates skyrocketed to 13.6 million this August, three FIU alumni have found ways to cope with the pandemic while maintaining a career.

Amanda Fraga tastes wine at home to share her knowledge with her lifestyle Instagram page. Photo courtesy of Amanda Fraga.

Amanda Fraga, is the Head Sommelier at The Genuine Hospitality Group, with a bachelor’s in hospitality management.

A sommelier is responsible for creating and updating wine lists that best pair with food options in restaurants.

“The group I work for completely closed down, we were not even taking take out orders,” said Fraga.

Since 2011, Fraga has progressed from Wine Steward to Head Sommelier. However, many of her coworkers have had to work multiple positions in order to run efficiently and compensate for their lack of employees.

“Once the pandemic is over, we will have lost a significant amount of job force to cities outside of South Florida,” said Fraga.

Florida is currently losing about $55 million a week in travel revenue due to COVID-19 restrictions, according to the US travel association. This halt has taken a heavy toll on the hospitality and tourism industry.

“No one was hiring me, I was barely even getting called back, I had no experience except for a degree,” said Fraga. “Ask yourself, how am I going to set myself apart when no one’s responding to me.”

She says that research is one of the ways you can set yourself apart from others.

“Visit the location, see what it’s like interacting with the staff, see what they’re looking for, and always follow up, especially now, if a lot of people are applying,” said Fraga.

Florida has been impacted by the pandemic in terms of job loss in the hospitality industry with 305,146 jobs lost since the beginning of May, according to The Center Square.

Kandys Temes walks as an alum with FIU’s Trail of the Torch in Fall 2019. Photo courtesy of Kandys Temes.

Another FIU alum, Kandys Temes, has been able to continue her career remotely throughout the pandemic.

Temes is the Junior Special Events Planner for the College of Arts, Sciences, and Education, with a bachelor’s in hospitality management.

“This has been a learning curve for all us, but planners had to pivot their routines to be successful,” said Temes.

FIU shifted to remote work on March 16, resulting in on-campus activities hosted online.

“You may be qualified, and you may be the best candidate for the job, but it just isn’t happening right now because of COVID-19,” said Temes. 

“This is a really great time to hone in on your skills and really find what you’re amazing at.”

She believes that the pandemic should not hinder one’s search for a job, and encourages others to view each interview as a chance for greater opportunities.

FIU 2020 alum Alejandra Floran

However, many medical students, including 2020 graduate, Alejandra Floran, faced a tough time finding opportunities to gain experience after deciding to take a gap year.

After receiving her acceptance letter to John Hopkins University she plans on pursuing her masters in business administration with a focus in healthcare management.

“You know you can find a job, but is it safe and reliable?” said Floran. Working her way through her bachelor’s degree in biology, she suggests working on a student portfolio that best shows the qualities of the career you intend on working in.

Graduating in the middle of a pandemic may prove to be challenging, yet, may ultimately show employers the steps one is willing to take in order to excel.

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