Seniors contemplate job prospects amidst Great Resignation

April 8, 2022

With a wide variety of job opportunities at their fingertips, seniors prepare for graduation and their lives after receiving their undergraduate degrees.

Gaps in the employment market led to a large number of job openings for seniors to take, said Andrea Stanley, a career readiness specialist at the UVM Career Center. Despite a significant increase in available job opportunities, some seniors feel apprehensive about graduation.                                                                                                          

Stanley’s work in the Career Center focuses on advising students with creating strong job portfolios. She helps them strengthen their applications and gives them confidence in contacting their connections, she said. 

“We’re in more of an employee workforce right now with the Great Resignation,” Stanley said. “With so many people resigning from their jobs and looking for higher paid jobs, it’s left the greatest amount of openings that there’s been for a very long time.”

The Great Resignation describes the period of mass job resignation and transition that began last year. This period results from people seeking jobs that provide higher compensation, flexibility or purpose, according to a March 30 CNN article.

There were 10.9 million job openings reported by employers in December alone, according to a Feb. 1 Washington Post article. The industries with the highest vacancy levels are accommodation and food services, retail, trade, transportation and utilities, and professional and business services. 

November marked the highest rate of resignation in two decades, according to the Pew Research Center. The top reasons workers left their jobs included low pay, no advancement opportunities and disrespect at work.  

The Great Resignation allows graduating seniors to choose the type of environment and culture they’re looking for in a job, Stanley said. Remote employment opportunities also increased. 

Senior Liv Marshall, a mathematics major, feels unsure about her pursuits after graduation, she said. She plans to move to Portland, Oregon where her fiancée resides. 

“I guess it’s really a mixed bag, especially because I feel like we lost so much time with COVID.  It feels like graduation is coming so soon,” Marshall said. “It’s certainly a bittersweet feeling, but I am also definitely ready to move on from UVM.” 

Senior Liv Marshall on the Waterman green April 1. (Gillian Symolon)

While only casually looking into future careers, Marshall would like to turn her current internship at Conduent, a global business processing company, into a full-time position, she said. Her position involves analyzing data and enabling the company’s call centers to run more smoothly.

Labor shortages provide seniors with more selectivity when applying to and accepting job positions, said economics professor Jane Knodell, a monetary historian. 

“There are labor shortages all across the line,” Knodell said. “I think people will be able to be selective. I think people will get multiple offers and I think that they’ll be able to really get off to a very strong start career-wise.”

Graduating seniors have new resources and skills that previous seniors did not, Knodell said.

“Anyone who has been in college during the pandemic is going to be able to tell a story about how they were able to adapt and build resilience, and I think that’s a quality that will be more and more valued,” Knodell said.

Senior Ian Moffett majors in plant biology and minors in pharmacology. He plans to take the next six months after graduating from UVM to decide whether to continue his education or begin a career, he said. If he pursues graduate school, he hopes to choose a school outside of Vermont. 

Graduating is like a big push out of the nest, Moffet said. While he feels prepared for the next stages of adulthood, he finds it hard to make the leap. His experience at UVM feels incomplete due to the effects of the pandemic.

Senior Riley Hebert studies environmental engineering. Hebert used the Career Center to find a job in Vermont and feels relieved to have a more traditional graduation, he said.

The road to his senior year has been challenging and he is glad that the semester is almost over, Hebert said.

Lounge of the Career Center in the Davis Center. (Gillian Symolon)

The current prospects for seniors are high. The class of 2020 reported a 92% success rate, according to the Class of 2020 Undergraduate Career Outcome Report. The success rate refers to the number of students who are employed, participating in a service or volunteer program or are continuing their education. 

Sixty-five point eight percent of 2020 graduates are fully employed, according to the report. The Class of 2021 Report has not been released yet.

Whether students are graduating and looking for a career or just searching for a part time job, contacting the Career Center or the Alumni Association would be a good place to start, Stanley said. Handshake and UVM Connect are also helpful online resources.

Seniors Alice Daeschler and Mia Handte-Reinecker outside the SGA lounge April 1.
(Gillian Symolon)

Alice Daeschler is a senior majoring in environmental science. Daeschler plans to work in Burlington for the summer while she finds a more permanent job, she said. She has an interview with the Coral Restoration Foundation in the Florida Keys.

Daeschler utilized weekly emails from the Rubenstein listserv to search for jobs, she said.

“Rubenstein sends out weekly internships, jobs and all of this stuff and that is very helpful,” Daeschler said. 

Senior Mia Handte-Reinecker bounced around majors before she landed on environmental studies. She will be teaching students environmental education at Shelburne Farms, she said. Handte-Reinecker had two pieces of advice for her younger self. 

“Everything will work out,” Handte-Reinecker said. “Also, I know everyone always says this but, talk to professors.” 

Undergraduate commencement will take place on Sunday, May 22, according to the 2021-22 Academic Calendar. On this day, seniors will conclude their undergraduate education at UVM and enter into the next stage of their lives.

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