College seniors facing career challenges

By Tara Jones -

FINDLAY — College students on the cusp of graduation are gearing up to enter into one of the toughest job markets to date.

Students and career development centers across the area are still trying to figure out how to best navigate either securing or maintaining jobs and internships.

Brad Hammer, director of career and professional development with the University of Findlay, said the students he has been working with have faced a variety of new problems that other graduating classes have not — losing jobs and internships already lined up, facing a delayed or remote start, or how to go about continuing to find a job in an all-digital environment.

“Nobody really anticipated these would be the circumstances even two months ago,” Hammer said. “We were in a booming economy and looking at, as a graduate, a great economy to get into, but now everything has changed. … It all depends on the industry — there are some industries that can’t get enough people — but I would say that the vast majority of students are going to have a more difficult time than grads have in the last eight to 10 years.”

According to an April survey done by Handshake, one of the leading websites connecting college students to job and internship opportunities, 48% of students are still concerned about finding a job when they graduate due to the results of the new coronavirus outbreak.

The Ohio State University at Lima is one of the several institutions that use Handshake. Rachel Richardson, career development manager of OSU-Lima’s Office of Career Development and Engagement said the available jobs and internships on Handshake for Allen and surrounding counties fell from 115 in March to 42 in April.

Brayden Cox, a sophomore insurance major at OSU-Lima, is one whose internship opportunity was in jeopardy.

He was being considered for a summer internship at Central Insurance Companies in Van Wert, who now may not be able to offer the position. Cox reached back out to Purmont Brothers Insurance Agency, where he has worked prior, and was able to secure summer work there.

“My ultimate goal for this upcoming summer was to gain insurance experience within the company side since I already have experience with an agency,” Cox said. “It’s a little bit of a bummer to know now I won’t be having an internship this summer, but I’m still very excited where I’m at and the opportunity I was able to get for this summer.”

Both Richardson and Hammer said their offices have continued to advise students still in school and those graduating to continue working on their digital presence through platforms like LinkedIn, taking time to research the field or job they want to work in, and most of all, to keep networking.

Hammer said he’s even been advising the students and graduates at Findlay to look into volunteering if they are unable to find work.

“There’s a need, and college students aren’t in as high of a risk as the most vulnerable population is,” he explained. “You can look at these opportunities to make a difference that is needed and also, you never know who you may encounter as a networking opportunity there that may lead to something that’s more career-related or develop those contacts that will lead to something further their career goals in the long run. Right now, you have to make do with what you can and hopefully make lemonade out of lemons.”

By Tara Jones

Reach Tara Jones at 567-242-0511.

Reach Tara Jones at 567-242-0511.

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