It’s a hard time to be a senior right now

Post-graduation may feel bleak, but there’s still hope

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Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian

By Srija Nagireddy, Assistant Op/Ed Editor

Students just started the fall semester, marking the beginning of a new academic year at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. For me, this year carries special significance: it’s the last one of my education at UMass. The fact that I’m a senior still doesn’t feel completely real, yet I’ve finally had to face tough questions about my future.

People assume post-graduation plans are made at this point, and I can’t count the number of times I’ve already been asked, “What are you doing after graduation?” Every time I get that question, the answer never comes easily. I have the luxury of having a possible plan right now, but I still doubt whether it’s the right one. I’m nervous and worried about the world that I’ll be entering post-graduation and confused over which is the best path to take through it.

Many other seniors I know are also anxious; the state of the economy has filled our immediate futures with uncertainty. Fears of a recession skyrocketed, with countermeasures needed to combat rising inflation levels. It’s something we’re already feeling in our day-to-day lives; living has become more expensive than ever, and even a trip to the grocery store shows these changes.

For us, the economy will have significant effects on the job market. I’m planning on going into the technology field after graduation, which previously seemed to carry a reasonable guarantee of employment. Hiring freezes in the tech industry, however, have thrown that idea away. Currently, amidst fears of a possible recession on the horizon, many startups and bigger tech companies have stopped hiring new employees. Many are also laying off existing employees in an effort to cut costs. Getting return offers for internships at certain companies is no longer a secure way of getting a full-time position. Multiple of my friends have been directly impacted by this, spending an entire summer working only to hear that they may not get the chance to return.

It’s hard not to feel lost when things we’ve taken for granted have been falling apart. It’s not the first time our class has faced this, though. For most in the current senior class, our freshman year was suddenly interrupted by COVID, forcing us to leave campus and keeping us from a full return to campus until our junior year. The time we lost to online classes was pivotal — years that should have been spent meeting new people and exploring new academic and professional avenues. I often wonder if having that time in person would have made life decisions easier and if having time on campus to grow and try new things would have made me more confident in the path I’m taking.

If you’re also a senior reading this, know that you’re not alone in feeling lost. We’ve been through a lot to get to this point, and now we’ve been faced with an even bigger challenge. It’s more than enough cause for frustration. But we’ve made it this far, dealing with the unexpected starting from our very first year here at UMass. We’re a resilient class, and all hope for finding a job post-grad is not lost. While hiring did slow down in August, the job market remained relatively strong, and if this stability continues, there’s a good chance we’ll at least have jobs. It’s not the most ideal situation, but there is a path forward.

Srija Nagireddy can be reached at [email protected].