WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — This time of year college graduates prepare to enter the workforce, but COVID-19 has complicated that for some.
It’s not the best of times for job hunting for graduates because of so many hiring freezes and so many laid-off people looking for work, but two international students said they feel lucky they have jobs lined up.
“Going back as a student was really my only option,” Midwestern State University Kinesiology graduate Patrick Fitzgerald said.
If Fitzgerald wasn’t approved for Optional Practical Training, that’s where students on F-1 visas can apply to work temporarily for up to one year.
“Thankfully, we got accepted a few months ago so that was kind of always our aim to get there and we have one year to work here and then from there we gotta figure things out,” Fitzgerald said.
Fitzgerald’s friend Ross Fitzpatrick agreed.
They said while many graduates could be facing setbacks in their career plans, they were fortunate to secure jobs before things got too chaotic.
“I was going to play a summer league up in Asheville this summer, so obviously coronavirus got that whole league canceled,” Fitzpatrick said. “The head coach up there was like ‘do you want to come work for me as the assistant for your one-year work visa?’ And I was like it’s a no brainer.”
However, all graduates aren’t so fortunate and this could be a discouraging time with many companies laying off employees or freezing hiring.
MSU’s Director of Career Management and Testing Services Dirk Welch said his department is stressing that graduates have realistic expectations.
“You’re going to need to be patient and flexible; you may have identified where you want to search for jobs, but we would advise that you expand the geographic locations that you’re considering and the industries that you’re considering,” Welch said.
Welch added that while grads may have received offers to be aware it could be a fluid situation.
“Never really assume just keep your head down, work hard and hopefully you’ll land on your feet, it’s kind of one of those things and I’m sure something will come your way,” Fitzgerald said.
Graduates are encouraged to be ready to adapt and be patient as they go through what could be a stressful time.
Fitzgerald has accepted a job as an assistant soccer coach at MSU and Fitzpatrick at the University of North Carolina.