Business, Features

BU students, alum see new direction, promise in job market despite pandemic

Although every year seniors battle the pressure of the job search, the class of 2021 faces a unique challenge: entering an economy jeopardized by a pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic limited some employment opportunities for graduating students, but other jobs may be available to those who are willing to work in different industries. COURTESY OF FLAZINGO.COM

Boston career professionals are working to relieve post-graduation plan stress. Lauren Celano, the co-founder and CEO of Propel Careers in Cambridge and 2009 Questrom School of Business alumna, helps students and young professionals advance their careers and learn about internship and job opportunities.

Celano said she thinks job prospects usually released around this time will be pushed to February or March because many companies are uncertain of their needs.

Celano added she is seeing increased opportunities for careers in life sciences, health care and other STEM-focused fields, as well as in consulting and finance. However, she said some fields are growing in new ways — in marketing, for example, new jobs are centered around life sciences and supply-chain fields instead of in a typical marketing firm.

“I would suggest for people to keep an open mind about where they end up working,” Celano said. “It’s possible that people could utilize their skills in different industry sectors than they might have thought when they entered college.”

Darien Figueroa, a senior in the College of Engineering, said though there may have been a slight decline in the job market because of the pandemic, he has personally found new opportunities in his field of interest.

“In the medical field, there is always high demand with hospitals,” Figueroa said. “[COVID-19] makes things a lot harder, but also it opens up a lot of technological opportunities for advancement in hospitals.”

For instance, Figueroa’s senior design project involves working with a startup company researching COVID-19 solutions, and he said similar engineering opportunities are becoming available because of the pandemic.

Although he has started applying to jobs in the medical field, Figueroa said his post-graduation plans are still undetermined — he is considering participating in Catholic missionary work for a year before starting a career.

John Loftus, a senior in ENG, said he would like to start working in the clean energy industry after graduation before potentially going to graduate school.

“I’m looking to go into industry, not only to become more financially stable,” Loftus said, “but also determine what I’m interested in.”

Loftus said he has started his job search, but has faced some challenges with navigating the newly “virtual professional world.” Though he said it has not affected his plans to start a career, digital networking has made pursuing that goal harder.

Celano said the increase she has seen in remote job opportunities could potentially make the job search more “daunting,” because people from any geographic location could apply. While this increase opens up new career avenues for graduates, Celano said students who apply must be proactive about learning about the company.

“Hopefully, people are asking questions around like, ‘What’s the culture, what kind of values does the organization really want to cultivate?’” Celano said. “Things to give people a feel for what the culture is like and what the people are like, so if they end up joining, hopefully it’s a good fit for them.”

Celano said her advice to current BU graduates is the same advice she gives everyone: use the BU alumni network, set up informational interviews and figure out what is important to them career-wise.

“It’ll make it easier for people to feel your passion if the role and the organization … is aligned to what you’re thinking about,” she said. “That’s important.”

For Figueroa, the pandemic initiated his own self-reflection, making him realize that plans can change in an instant. He said this highlighted the importance of staying in the moment.

“By re-evaluating why I’m doing the things that I do, I find that my future goals are much more realistic or more favorable,” Figueroa said. “Instead of having a goal just to have one, having a goal for other reasons.”

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