A Year Without Tassel Turning
Adrianne DeLuca | May 15, 2020
The Class of COVID-19: finding futures disrupted, but embracing the present while looking ahead to next chapter.
ELON, NC— Every spring millions of young adults walk across a stage, clad in cap and gown to celebrate the commencement of their formal education. This ceremony summarizes not only academic accomplishments, but also personal growth, friendships, and a whole host of memories that have shaped each individual during this integral part of their lives. When the Class of 2020 looks back on their college years, they will likely remember a single event that shaped them all greatly, in some very different ways.
“So my parents were calling me, telling me my schools going to get canceled, and I am going to have to come home, and my senior year was over,” says Josephine Farrell, a graduating senior at Elon University. “And I didn’t believe them.”
Farrell’s home state of Connecticut has been hit especially hard during the coronavirus pandemic. She had verbally accepted an underwriter position at Chubb Insurance after graduation but was forced to change plans when they froze hiring due to the pandemic.
This year many seniors are graduating in their respective home states, on the same screens they studied in those final weeks as they worked towards completing their degrees. Once their textbooks have been returned and their diplomas arrive in the mail they will be ushered off into a new working world, shaped by the coronavirus pandemic.
“The stuff we have been studying for and preparing for, that world is not the same now,” says Owen Anderson, a graduating senior at Elon University. “So we all have to learn how to work differently because the workforce, the work lifestyle, is going to change drastically.”
Anderson secured a position at Gallagher, an insurance brokerage firm, back in November. After interning with the company for two summers he accepted the position fully confident it was the right place for him to be. Other graduates are concerned rushing into any decision due to the current circumstances will have a negative impact on their futures.
“I expected to have more offers coming and have more decisions to make, but really I just had one interview before spring break,” says Victoria Vernet, a graduating senior at Elon University. “Given the way everyone I was talking about the job market and the current economy, I felt I had to take it.”
The pandemic hit in the midst of Vernet’s application process, which forced her to make a decision quickly and accept an offer so she could ensure she was employed after graduation.
“I knew I had to confront it right away and I even asked for more time, but they didn’t seem too willing,” says Vernet. “Ten minutes of their time spent talking to me could be spent doing other things especially because they were in the process of phasing in these different rules for the coronavirus.”
Vernet accepted the position at Synergy Investments as an Assistant Property Manager. She was informed upon her acceptance of the role that she is an essential worker and will be commuting into the City of Boston, despite the circumstances.
When the United States declared the pandemic was a national emergency on March 13, 2020, no one knew
how long the lockdown would last. At the time, Americans were told not to panic. At the time, they were told social distancing restrictions would last only 14 days. At the time, these students didn’t anticipate all of the changes the virus would bring.
“I am fortunate that mine just got pushed back,” says Anderson. “It hurt as much as it did, but there’s many out there who aren’t even getting a single look because it’s not on their radar to hire these Class of 2020 graduates.”
According to an April report from the U.S Department of Labor, this year’s graduates are entering a job market so bad, unemployment rates have surpassed those of the Great Depression.
Data Source: U.S. Department of Labor
“People are actually losing their lives. I can’t even imagine what it’s like for health workers,” says Farrell. “I can’t really complain that I am missing my senior year, but I just feel sad for everyone because this is not how we are meant to live”
Farrell, Anderson, and Vernet each agreed that the effect of the pandemic on their own realities happened so fast that they can’t keep track of all of the “lasts” that were canceled. However, the memories of the senior spring they had so eagerly anticipated weren’t lost altogether, but instead replaced by a new opportunity.