WATERVILLE, Maine — This year’s college graduates are entering a job market significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hiring freezes and withdrawal of jobs threaten to derail graduates’ careers and set them up to make less money over time.
Studies show college graduates who enter the workforce during a recession typically earn less for 10 to 15 years compared to those who graduate during prosperity.
Colby College senior Patrick Sopko is still looking for a job.
"I couple of the jobs I applied to and interviewed with reached out to me and told me 'Hey, we have to put a pause on our hiring process right now," Sopko said. "I know a lot of kids across the country are experiencing the same thing or, even worse, having a job offer be rescinded."
Sopko says that finding a job out of college is hard enough as is without being in the midst of a pandemic, coupled with record-high unemployment.
"It adds just another layer of difficulty in getting your foot into the door in the business world or whatever it is you want to do."
Recognizing the challenges its seniors are facing, Colby College has started a new initiative called "Pay it Northward." Its goal is to find work for all of its 2020 graduates.
Colby College's senior class is made up of approximately 500 students with 300 of them still looking for work after college.
Pay it Northward relies on the small liberal arts college's network of alumni and their families and friends.
“Two months ago, the Class of 2020 was getting ready to enter into the hottest job market in decades. That world no longer exists," Vice Chair of the Colby College Board of Trustees Anne Clarke Wolff said. "Now, more than ever, our job is to open doors that will give them the chance to start the careers for which they’ve worked so hard."
Thus far, the method has proven successful. Dean of Student Advancement Andy McGadney says, "what we're finding is that our alumni network is responding with a variety of opportunities in every field of human endeavor."
McGadney says it has been so successful that the school will likely continue to implement this practice into the future.
"In many ways, colleges and universities should already be doing this," McGadney said. "We believe that what we're doing today, it could be a new model in how we deliver post-graduate success."
"Imagine if we're able to secure a job for every senior in this initiative in the worst kind of economic times. If we can do that now, imagine what we could do when things return to normal."
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