UB seniors sit at tables in the Student Union lobby and decorate their caps for graduation. Stencils, glitter, paint, gems, flowers and cotton balls are scattered across the tables as students decorate meticulously while chatting excitedly with friends.
The “Trick Out Your Tassel” event, hosted by Student Engagement and the Class of 2023, took place last Tuesday afternoon. The Spectrum asked students how they feel about graduating in a post-COVID-19 world with a constantly changing workforce.
According to the Pew Research Center, 62% of Americans think that artificial intelligence (AI) will have a “major impact” on all workers within the next 20 years, while just 13% believe that AI will help more than hurt workers.
As of January 2022, 59% of Americans are working remotely from home, according to the Pew Research Center. Although 64% of workers believe working remotely makes their work life and personal life easier to balance, 60% of workers feel less connected to their co-workers.
Kennedy Parks, a health and human services major and D’Youville transfer, says she learns and interacts best in-person. Before transferring to UB during her junior year, she had trouble learning online as a nursing major.
“It was the semester I was supposed to be doing clinicals and I was doing practice IVs over Zoom on a pop can in my living room, so it was not practical,” she said. “I was going to have to go back to make up those in-person hours for nursing because you need those in New York State anyway. That whole thing was not counting for me, so I ended up taking a semester off, transferring to UB [and] re-getting my footwork back in.”
Parks recently started her job hunt to have something lined up for post-graduation. She feels nervous because her job prospects say she needs three to five years of experience in the field.
“My major at UB doesn’t require an internship, so I technically don’t have any connections with anywhere for anything in my degree, so that makes me a bit nervous,” she said. “But I’m excited to be working with something with my degree hopefully soon.”
For Marissa D’Antoni, a environmental studies major, COVID-19 “hit perfectly” during her senior year of high school. She said she had no expectations of what college would be like since she came to UB during the pandemic.
Her cap reads, “I did that in a blink of an eye,” alluding to her short time here at UB.
D’Antoni says she applied to about 200 jobs and is waiting to hear back from employers.
“I’m excited to see what happens,” she said. “I’m not really too nervous about it because I know eventually I’ll get a job, the first thing is just getting that first step.”
While uncertainty is a familiarity for many seniors, that isn’t currently the case for Chidera Anameze, a biomedical sciences major. Anameze will be pursuing a Medical Doctorate (MD) at UB’s Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, giving her at least four more years before she has to worry about searching for jobs.
Although her anxieties are at ease for now, she says she will miss One World Café and the convenience of having food readily available to her.
Anameze says she didn’t mind doing classes remotely during COVID-19 because her organic chemistry and physics labs were all online. She also didn’t feel lonely from the isolation.
“I wasn’t really negatively affected because I had my sister with me,” she said. “A lot of people did feel isolated. I was never isolated since I always lived with my sister.”
Ashrida Jampana, a management information systems major, doesn’t feel ready to graduate just yet. She’s going to miss the overall environment of UB the most.
UB introduced her to “university life” because her college back in India wasn’t nearly as large.
“At UB, every day it’s one or the other that’s happening between people, entertaining apart from your academics, which is actually very much relaxing,” Jampana said. The campus, the environment — it’s just beautiful. I have never seen a campus that is as beautiful as this.”
She says finding a job is “really tough,” but is grateful for her professors’ assistance and guidance.
Despite the uncertainties of life post-graduation, Jampana says that keeping a positive mindset is crucial to succeeding. Glued on her cap, surrounded by white flowers, are the words: “A grand adventure is about to begin.”
Katie Skoog is a features editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org