Seniors Navigate Career Exploration During a Pandemic

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This year has been difficult, especially for many students, due to the unprecedented times of the COVID-19 pandemic. Alterations in class formats and remote coursework are among the many obstacles students may face.

As graduation for fall 2020 approaches, seniors are balancing time between finishing this semester strong and exploring career options for the future. While times are tough and job opportunities are slim, it’s all about determination and maintaining a positive attitude to ensure success.

Senior mass communication major Christina Karastamatis said after graduation she plans on getting a jump start on her career and exploring a different area of expertise along the way.

“I just recently got a job as an instructional aide at an elementary school,” Karastamatis said. “Which I am really excited about because in addition to my degree, I am also working online to get my teaching certificate.”

It’s no secret that the workforce has evolved and that job opportunities are scarce. Even then, Karastamatis has proven that staying consistent can ultimately help you in landing a job.

“Honestly, I have been looking for a job since August at the start of the semester and it has proven to be a lot tougher than I anticipated,” Karastamatis said. “I have applied for many jobs and I have been turned down and ignored for many jobs, but I stayed positive and got lucky.”

Although attending school online isn’t the traditional way to learn, it can be a great way to show future employers that you can excel in time management and organization. Karastamatis said this semester has influenced her to expand her horizons by exploring non-traditional work environments as well.

“This semester has made me lean toward working remotely, but unfortunately in my line of work that isn’t usually an option,” Karastamatis said. “In marketing and PR you could work from home if your boss allows it, but as a teacher or instructional aide I have to be in person.”

Despite the many challenges of this semester, Karastamatis has remained optimistic and said she is looking forward to what life will bring after graduating from Sam Houston State University.

“Although it is a bit scary because I really am going to be an adult in the real world on my own, I am very excited to start my career and see where it takes me and what I can really do,” Karastamatis said.

As the pandemic continues, job opportunities are few and far between. Senior psychology major Rachel Blaschke said although career exploration has been tough, it’s all about your attitude and perseverance to help you along the way.

“Searching for a job, especially during a pandemic, can definitely take a toll on one’s mental health,” Blaschke said. “I know I’ve had my fair share of rejection letters. You just have to keep pushing through and believe that there are employers out there who are looking for a candidate just like you.”

Blaschke, who serves as a prime example of where determination can get you, said she has already mapped out her first step towards life after SHSU. She said she believes she received a job offer because of her experience with being able to handle school and work at the same time.

“I think I’m more marketable because of how much more I have on my plate,” Blaschke said. “Explaining that I’ve been working through a pandemic, while taking 16 hours of school online impresses employers. It shows that I can juggle multiple things at once and handle it.”

Blaschke said the last few months have made her realize working remotely would not be something she would want to pursue full time.

“This semester has taught me that I definitely need structure,” Blaschke said. “It’s been a challenge keeping up with these ‘do at your own pace’ classes on my own. I’ve come to realize that I have to be in a public spot to get my work done.”

As graduation draws near, Blaschke said she has mixed emotions about taking the next step in life, but is hopeful for what’s to come.

“I’ve been in my current job role for about 4 years, so leaving the company I hold so dear to my heart is nerve-racking,” Blaschke said. “Not knowing what lies ahead kind of freaks me out, but I’ve been pretty optimistic about it. I just have to trust that I am where I belong.”

Searching for a job during unfortunate circumstances can be scary. However, maintaining a positive attitude that a job is out there for you can make a world of a difference.  

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