For graduating seniors, the end of spring semester is often filled with celebration and excitement for the future, but the class of 2020 is having to face that future in the middle of a pandemic.

The COVID-19 outbreak has put a lot on hold — including employment opportunities for graduating seniors. With the job market dwindling, some Ohio State students have found themselves struggling to stay positive, but Ohio State’s Office of Career Counseling and Support Services offers resources to help.

In March, the number of unemployed people in the United States rose from 5.7 million  to 7.1 million, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. At the time of publication, the U.S. had 338,995 confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University.

“At a time when I should be finishing up my final classes and looking forward to whatever is next, I’m faced with an uncertain future and a really bleak outlook on career opportunities,” Jordan Baggs, a fourth-year in international studies and diplomacy and religious studies, said.

Career Counseling and Support Services offers resources to help students during this unprecedented semester. Ryan Wilhelm, assistant director of CCSS, said the office currently offers one-on-one career sessions and weekly workshops on video-conferencing service Zoom.

 Career Counseling and Support Services (CCSS) is offering one-on-one career sessions and weekly workshops over Zoom, a video-conferencing application. Credit: Olivia Albert | Lantern Reporter

Ben Smith, a fourth-year in molecular genetics, said he accepted an offer to be a consulting analyst in the pharmaceutical field right before the pandemic struck. He was originally supposed to start his job July 13, but never received his paperwork from the company.

“I’ve followed up with my recruiter but have received radio silence,” Smith said. “Definitely scared they are thinking about a hiring freeze — potentially canceling my position.”

Baggs said she has received a lot of automatically generated rejections for jobs to which she has applied, and all of her prospective companies have put indefinite holds on hiring.

Wilhelm said that though many places are pausing processes to figure out their company’s response to the pandemic, students should work on updating their materials and building their networks. Wilhelm said informational interviews on Zoom, LinkedIn and Handshake are great tools for students to expand their networks.

Wilhelm said graduating seniors should be confident that they have a useful skill set.

“They will be great with technology and able to pick things up very quickly,” Wilhelm said. “They have years of proof that they are great at just-in-time learning. And in the last few months, they have shown both resilience and that they can adapt and deal with uncertainty.”

Brian Vasilou, a fourth-year in engineering physics, said his biggest concern is how long the uncertainty will last, but he is still optimistic.

“I am hopeful that if this state of social distancing and quarantine does last into the late summer and fall, companies will still be looking for new people that can interview and work remotely,” Vasilou said. “The technology is available. Everyone just needs to use it.”

Wilhelm said there is no way to know what will happen going forward, so it is important to find ways to take steps toward the future and have a flexible career identity.

“The goal now for anyone job hunting should be to be curious and courageous,” Wilhelm said. “Be curious about what’s exciting and interesting for you, and then take steps to meet and connect to people who are doing that work.”

There are four workshops hosted on Zoom every week on topics such as interview strategies, resume and cover letter help, job searching and career exploration, Wilhelm said. The workshop is free and open to all students.

Wilhelm said the one-on-one sessions offer advice on job or graduate school searches and career exploration and counseling. Graduating seniors can have up to three sessions with CCSS for one semester after they graduate.

Along with career and counseling services, Gov. Mike DeWine’s office has created a job board specifically for those whose career has been affected by the pandemic, which can be found on its website. Additionally, the Hire Big 10 Consortium, a group of career services representatives from schools in the Big Ten Conference, is hosting a virtual career fair April 14 on its website.

More information about Career Counseling and Support Services and how to access the office can be found on its website.