Graduating college shortly before or during the COVID-19 pandemic has come with its share of challenges — in a turbulent economy, the College's recent alumni are pursuing full-time jobs and navigating a remote workplace, beginning advanced degrees online and networking with professionals in their intended field. See below for career resources available to our recent graduates and experiences shared with us by members of the class of 2020.
It's important to know that we as the class of 2020 have gone through difficult times before. We were able to overcome all sorts of challenges to get to where we are today.
Miguel Díaz-López, Valedictorian for the undergraduate class of 2020
For Manhattan College alumni, the Center for Career Development offers career counseling appointments and assessments, and job search tools. Recent graduates may also attend and participate in career fairs and other events with employers that are hosted by the College.
Caitlin Duggan, assistant director of employer relations, the Center for Career Development:
"I would recommend that recent graduates remain patient and persistent. By patient, I mean with themselves and the state of hiring at the moment. Businesses are still navigating how to open and you will likely see more opportunities in the coming months. By persistent, I mean with applying to jobs and sharpening their skills. Keep applying to positions every day. Also, keep building your resume with online courses or certifications. If you have never had your resume reviewed, there is still time! The Center for Career Development services are available to alumni as well."
Education and transportation reporter at The Riverdale Press, formerly an intern
What was the transition from intern to full-time staff like for you at The Riverdale Press?
Honestly, I don't think my transition would have happened the way it did without the added variable of the pandemic. My internship ended in late April, and about a week later, The Riverdale Press qualified for the Paycheck Protection Program. That allowed the paper to take on two temporary Special Projects Reporters to essentially take over all COVID-19-related coverage. So my editor reached out to me and Anthony Capote (a fellow Manhattan College alum!) to fill those roles. While I was working in the Special Projects Reporter role, a permanent position as the Education and Transportation Reporter opened up, and I was offered the job!
Do you have any advice for current interns hoping to make the transition to full-time employment at their companies?
My advice for interns is to make yourself stand out in your internship role. Try and do things without your boss asking you to do them. Take initiative anywhere and everywhere you can. Finally, don't just assume you'll be considered if a full-time role opens up. If the opportunity arises, communicate politely but clearly to your boss that you'd like to be considered. You probably have a leg up on other external candidates because you're already familiar with the company and what it does day-to-day.
Have you been working remotely or have you transitioned back to the newsroom? What has been your experience with on-scene reporting during COVID?
I've been working remotely since Manhattan College closed in mid-March. We hope to be in the newsroom sooner rather than later, but the staff's safety, not to mention the safety of our families and the people we interview, comes first. I haven't been able to do any on-scene reporting during the pandemic, and while I miss in-person reporting, we shouldn't make the jump back to it before it's safe to do so.
How have you been doing during COVID-19? Have there been any practices that have helped you maintain a work-life balance while working from home?
Maintaining a work-life balance is a bit more difficult not because of the pandemic or because I'm working remotely, but because the news cycle never ends. But my biggest rule I try to follow is "no news on weekends." I limit my social media usage and doom-scrolling when I'm not working, and I try to spend the weekends with my friends and loved ones ... while wearing masks and abiding by social distancing guidelines, of course!
What would you like to say to the class of 2020?
We really deserved better than what we got, but I urge you all to remain patient. I want nothing more than a real "graduation," but we can't do it until it's more than safe for us to do so. As much as I want to celebrate with you all, we see what's going on across the country with people reopening too early and paying the price later. I don't want that for us. So hang on just a little longer. Wash your hands, wear a mask, practice social distancing, and before you know it, we'll be able to celebrate together properly.
Beginning a Ph.D. program in mechanical engineering at Johns Hopkins University
Can you share your experience as a recent graduate during COVID-19?
Being a recent graduate during COVID-19 does feel a bit strange. Despite knowing that I graduated and knowing that I am entering a new chapter in my life, it is difficult to realize that without having been able to go through a Commencement ceremony and celebrate with my friends. It is an unprecedented time for all of us and I am definitely one of the lucky ones when it comes to how this has affected me. At the very least I'll know that I have graduated and been chosen as valedictorian for one of the most memorable years in history.
Are you planning to attend classes in-person or remotely this fall as a Ph.D. candidate at Johns Hopkins University?
I have actually been able to start my research early at Johns Hopkins under Dr. Rui Ni since early July working on several projects with NASA on things like designing a system that will extract water from the moon and observing the jet crater dynamics when something like a lunar lander impinges on the lunar soil bed. It's extremely exciting stuff and I am glad to still be a part of amazing projects like this while still maintaining proper safety.
For the fall, Johns Hopkins has decided that all classes, undergraduate and graduate level, will be held online so I'll be remote for the most part this upcoming semester. Thankfully I will still be able to work in the lab and push my research forward!
Do you think your last semester of remote learning at Manhattan College has prepared you for remote learning this fall?
To be honest I think I might've been a bit spoiled by the way all of my classes handled online learning. All of my teachers at Manhattan College were incredibly considerate and caring throughout the transition and several members of the faculty reached out to me to ask me how I was doing. It'll be an interesting time going into a PhD program at Hopkins fully online that's for sure.
Is there anything you would like to share with the class of 2020?
I just want to make sure the class of 2020 knows that despite the fact that we are going through difficult times right now, especially with the job market dwindling, it's important to know that we have gone through difficult times before. We were able to overcome all sorts of challenges to get to where we are today. We graduated from college! And much of our life's work has led to this moment. Don't let a temporary problem discourage you from achieving what you always wanted and are so close to getting. Keep pushing forward, learning, and growing.
Community services outreach member, Office of the Mayor of New York City
How did you secure this position?
I got my position at the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA) through City Service Corps; Kathleen Von Euw in Campus Ministry and Social Action (CMSA) actually recommended that I apply. I’m very passionate about the rights of immigrants and I know that I want to study immigration law in the future, but I wanted some experience working in that field. I applied to every possible position that involved working with immigrants on Handshake, LinkedIn, Indeed.com and other job sites, but never heard anything back. I became very discouraged, but when I heard that I had gotten the position at MOIA through City Service Corps I was ecstatic. It is an alternative route to what I want to do, which is work in New York City politics and for the immigrants who live here. My role at MOIA is to work primarily with community services, meaning that I will help to organize programs to help the city’s immigrant population know their rights.
Any advice for the class of 2020?
One tip that I have for people looking for jobs during this difficult time is to be patient. Also, to take risks and apply to things that may have not been in your immediate plan because all experiences can help you reach your end goal in the future.
High School social studies teacher at The Academy of Mount St. Ursula
Searching for a job during the coronavirus pandemic was certainly a unique experience. However, I actually planned on taking a gap year with teaching as I completed my master's in special education at Manhattan College. I was very diligent on apps such as LinkedIn and Indeed. I made sure to update my profile weekly as I passed certain teacher exams and certifications, connected with fellow Jaspers and teachers in the metropolitan area, interacted with posts that popped up on my feed, and uploaded a professional headshot. I took risks and messaged numerous principals and teachers on LinkedIn in the hopes I would catch lightning in a bottle.
Sister Mary Ann Jacobs and Dr. Kerri Mulqueen both knew about my difficult situation and notified me about an open position at Academy of Mount Saint Ursula, a Catholic high school in the Bronx conducted in the Ursuline tradition. I applied immediately. A few interviews and visits to the Bronx later; I accepted a full-time position as an AP World History and US History teacher at AMSU.
Not too much longer after I got hired, I saw a close friend of mine made a professional Twitter account for her first job endeavors. I immediately thought the idea was amazing and created @teacherkatina on Instagram. I often felt like I was posting too much "teacher content" on my personal account and wanted to chronicle my teacher persona with those who are closest to me.
My students will be prompted to follow the account and I will occasionally post their work with their permission. It is incredibly important, especially for young women, to feel proud of themselves. I remember the feeling of excitement and motivation as a student when my teacher(s) would show off my work. I anticipate this will heighten the engagement, motivation, and effort in my classroom.
This year will bring tons of challenges between graduate courses, teaching full-time, and the unknowns of COVID-19; but I am so ready for it. Go Jaspers!
Online Learning and Research
Access to online course instruction from LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda.com) is free with a New York Public Library card. Learn more here.
Additionally, access to the virtual databases and other digital resources through the O'Malley Library at the College is open to current students and recent graduates with a JasperNet ID. Visit the library's website here.
Staying Focused and Connected
Remaining persistent in applying for potential job opportunities can feel challenging, especially during the pandemic. Remain connected to your fellow Jaspers by joining the Manhattan College alumni and the Manhattan College Career Development Networking groups on LinkedIn. Your former classmates also can be great sources of solidarity — they know what you're going through, and that it isn't easy. Below, members of the class of 2020 reflect candidly upon their experiences from the past year and share advice for the present moment.
Since I came back home in the middle of March, even while I was finishing up my final semester, I found that I had more free time than I have had in a long time. I've become so used to always having something to do, people to see or places to go to, so transitioning to having no commitments was a lot harder than expected. This was especially true in the beginning stages of quarantine because I found it hard to fill up my time when I couldn't leave my house, see my friends, or do anything pretty much. I found that the highlight of my day was going to the Starbucks or Dunkin' drive-through to get an iced coffee. Once classes finished up though and I was like an actual adult, I spent a lot of time looking for jobs and sending in applications, which in the middle of a global pandemic, is stressful, to say the least. In terms of self-care practices, I definitely have listened to a lot of music, watched a lot of movies and TV, and developed an unhealthy obsession with TikTok. Other than that, I'm trying to work on more personal projects and pick up new hobbies with all of the free time that I have right now.
I have also been trying to educate myself on a variety of important topics to help support the Black Lives Matter movement. While I was unable to go to a protest, I found myself looking to stay active in other ways whether it be having conversations with my friends, looking up and sharing various resources, or simply educating myself. I also joined a racial justice book club this past month and have been reading So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo in preparation for our first discussion. While this will be our first group discussion, I am really looking forward to it and think that it will be extremely productive.
As for any advice for the class of 2020, I'm honestly not sure because I feel like I have been pretty lost recently. I feel like any certainty I had about the future was tossed out of the window, but I've been trying to find the bright side of the situation. Like I mentioned earlier, this is the most amount of free time that I have had in a long time, so as cliché as it may sound, I've been trying to find myself. I'm trying to use this time to figure out what I really want to do in life, what my goals are, and how I can achieve them. Still trying to figure that part out, but I think if I can take one good thing out of quarantine it definitely is the fact that I didn't rush into a career right out of college and that it gave me the time to kind of sit down and figure out what I want to do with my life.
The job search is rough, but I'm hoping for the best and for anything honestly.
My best advice would be to acknowledge the bad feelings and embrace them. I think at school when everything is go, go, go, it's easy to push through the bad times by staying busy. Now I have no choice but to confront them and although I've had some really low lows, I think I've come out stronger in the end. Yoga has been really helpful in calming my brain. With the Black Lives Matter movement, COVID-19 and climate concerns, social media and the news can be overwhelming. I've been keeping up to date and getting involved where I can, but it's also important to take a step back and catch your breath without feeling guilty about doing so. That bit of time to myself has been so crucial in staying sane.