Jacqueline Flores | Staff Writer
The pandemic left lasting scars that make it difficult for Gen Z graduates to find jobs corresponding to their well-earned degrees, meaning they’re likely to accept lower-paying work instead of jobs in their degree field.
I graduated with a bachelor’s in political science in the spring of 2021 with confidence that I’d get a job, especially with three internships under my belt. But after a summer of rejections and no callbacks, I came back to FIU for a second degree.
I didn’t understand why because I applied for these jobs months prior to graduation, I had several connections, along with fantastic recommendation letters; I even took advantage of FIU’s Career Services.
But it still wasn’t enough and other students are experiencing the same difficulties.
FIU student Ariel Maldonado graduated with a communications degree in 2019 but spent the next whole year searching for a suitable job in his field.
“My experience was tiresome, there were many applications,” said Maldonado. “It took three months to get my first job, but I left it after a few weeks because the positions felt so sketchy.”
Maldonado returned to school for his psychology degree with the goal of gaining his master’s and finding better employment.
According to ThinkImpact, about 4 million college students were expected to graduate within the 2020-21 school year. But Statista states that as of February 2022, 4% of those graduates, or 160,000, were still unemployed.
So, what does all this mean for FIU students and graduates?
Insider reported that the class of 2022 is being presented with the most job openings in history, but the thing is that they aren’t the jobs we want. As of March this year, 41.4% of college graduates held jobs that did not require a degree.
The current graduating classes may have better chances of getting hired somewhere than the class of 2020, who faced the worst of the pandemic economy, but those jobs don’t necessarily match our expectations in terms of qualifications.
We don’t want retail, food service, or customer service; we want careers in what we studied and worked hard for.
There are students giving up the job hunt and going off to get their master’s or yearlong fellowships, just like Maldonado and I did. We are choosing to continue school over actually starting our profession because the interviews and job process are anguishing.
This situation is becoming more and more difficult because employers make up for the past two years and hire more middle management — supervisor and managerial roles right below policy-making administrators — instead of recent college graduates.
They need people with more experience who can train the new incoming workers.
Young adults are quitting every other month into new positions which reshape the labor markets. Life is too short to stay in a job you’re not passionate about, especially after years of hard work to earn a degree to work in a specific field.
Other students do have better luck. Gianelle Valdes is a success story students strive for. She graduated in the fall of 2021 with a bachelor’s in civil engineering.
“I was luckily able to find a job in my field and was offered a position at my place of internship upon graduation,” said Valdes, who found her current position with a telecommunications company at an FIU career fair.
Employers still hold a lot of power. Class of 2021-22 lost valuable in-person internships when things became remote. I even lost a Washington D.C. internship and the supervisor “ghosted” me afterward.
These opportunities would’ve given me a world of experience that gives me an edge in the job market.
Statistics don’t guarantee employment in your desired field. While it’s FIU’s responsibility to provide resources for its students, you must still put yourself out there to earn internships and networking opportunities.
“My time at FIU was valuable, but I think I would have gotten the same opportunity elsewhere,” said Valdes. “I got lucky…have the right mindset and learn to get over that fear of rejection and just apply.”
The job market is always changing and these last few years have been a rollercoaster. Everyone’s journey is different, but the students who put themselves out there in the job market without fear of rejection will have a higher chance of success.
The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of the PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community