Recent NYU graduates search for jobs, but find bleak prospects instead

Due to the economic fallout of the pandemic, NYU alumni have had to reassess their career choices and job prospects as they enter the workforce.

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Manasa Gudavalli

30 Cooper Sq. is an office building located near NYU’s campus. Recent graduates are having difficulties finding jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Staff Photo by Manasa Gudavalli)

Maria Freyre, Contributing Writer

Ali Vera, class of 2021, handed in her two weeks’ notice to The Sunshine Method tutoring service on Sept. 13. She had decided to accept the job after graduating, even though it didn’t align with her interests or career plan. 

“I think that’s what’s been happening a lot lately,” Vera said. “Many people have been quitting because it’s not necessarily the field they originally imagined themselves working in or they realized that they could do better somewhere else.”

While Vera was recently able to secure a job related to developmental psychology — her area of study at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study — others have been unable to find jobs related to their college majors. 

Recent NYU graduates have entered the workforce with reduced job prospects due to COVID-19. Around 77% of Gen Z adults have planned to switch jobs, making them a part of the Great Resignation, a recent phenomenon in which millions of young adults have left their jobs.

Gracy Sarkissian, the interim executive director of NYU’s Wasserman Center for Career Development, wrote in a statement to WSN that career counselors have been helping graduates reevaluate their future career plans.

“We want students to choose a path that aligns with their interests and values, allows them to utilize their strengths and provides opportunities to gain skills and experiences that will equip them for future roles,” Sarkissian wrote. “Many [students] are successful across multiple industries and pursue several careers throughout their lifetime.”

Alejandra Arevalo, a graduate of the class of 2021 and an iHeartMedia podcast producer, is having difficulties finding a job in journalism — which was already a notoriously difficult industry to break into before the pandemic. This difficulty is despite her experience working as a student reporter and completing multiple research jobs during her undergraduate career. (Arevalo is a former member of WSN’s editorial staff.) 

“My hopes of easily finding an amazing reporting job were far from the truth because there is a monopoly over who gets into the journalism industry and who doesn’t — and Latina immigrants are at the end of the ladder,” Arevalo said. “Because I only landed one internship in journalism, recruiters would tell me I was too inexperienced. Seeing a lot of layoffs due to the pandemic was definitely discouraging and pushed me away from looking for full-time roles in journalism.”

As an undergraduate student, Arevalo said she was provided job and internship listings at major media outlets by NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. However, she said she did not have guidance when it came to securing these opportunities.

“I thought that because I was getting extraordinary grades at one of the best journalism schools in the country, it would be really easy for me to find well-paying internships and job opportunities,” Arevalo said. “Not true.

Since graduating from the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development in 2020, Anthony Davis has supported himself through unemployment benefits, tax refunds, stimulus checks, and as a gig worker while searching for a job in the television industry.

“My days are mostly spent applying for jobs and just doing recreational activities to stay sane,” Davis said. “When I had to leave [campus] in March because of the COVID-19 lockdown, I came back home to a kind of tumultuous situation. I felt spread a bit thin.”

Davis initially applied to NYU for biochemistry on the prehealth track, but decided to switch to Steinhardt’s Media, Culture, and Communication program during his junior year since he was interested in writing, pop culture and film. After changing his major, Davis said he missed out on internship and work opportunities and understood it would be harder to enter the workforce. 

“There are always people who will tell you that they graduated from this illustrious institution and still struggled to find their footing, maybe didn’t work the first year or two and maybe switched careers after a decade,” Davis said. “Yet they always tend to do well for themselves in the end. So if anything, it gave me security that it won’t be a struggle forever.”

Anika Deshpande, Steinhardt class of 2021, accepted a program coordinator position at Veeva Systems, a computer software company, even though she studied vocal performance. Deshpande decided to stay in this position because of the positive work environment, her coworkers and financial stability. 

“We were still kind of mid-shutdown,” Deshpande said. “I was pretty sure that I wasn’t going to be working exactly in my field right off the start. I was looking for a chance to get back to the city, work and earn some money.”

Sarkissian said that while the Wasserman Center is working to ease the added difficulty of finding a job during the pandemic, she believes that NYU students can adapt to any industry.

“Students today have the added pressure of navigating changing hiring timelines, new processes and hybrid work environments,” Sarkissian said. “This adds more uncertainty to the job search. I tell students to focus on the things they can control while remaining creative, agile and open to new possibilities.”

Contact Maria Freyre at [email protected]