COVID and Career: Loyola Students and Alums Share how Covid Impacted their Academic and Career Plans

Epiphany Johnican pictured

By: Camille Jackson, Loyola Senior

As more COVID vaccinations are being distributed across the nation, many people’s hope for a semblance of normalcy as things slowly and safely opens up increases as times go on. However, the pandemic has greatly shaken the way college campuses operate and left many students and recent graduates with uncertainty surrounding future job prospects when the economy has been so disrupted, and how to move on to the next stage of their lives. 

Current Loyola Students and recent graduates shared how the pandemic has impacted or altered their careers and/or post-graduate plans with some of their fears as well as hopes. 

Recent Film and Digital Media Graduate, Dara Eleazar (23) said “I think COVID in many ways made a lot of the world stop. I had a lot of career and educational plans that I was

Dara Eleaznar pictured

excited about that just could no longer be and might not be for a while. Part of life during this pandemic is about being creative and working around some of the limitations COVID has set for us while still being hopeful for the future and when things can go ‘back to normal.’ There’s also the part of the pandemic that I found made it unbearable to stay focused, present, or career-oriented. I just felt lost. Still, I think it’s given me the chance to take a look inside myself and re-evaluate where I want to go and what I want to do.”

The pandemic has created a great sense of turmoil and very challenging for those struggling to find a job while making it day by day.

Loyola senior, Shannon Wrzesinski, studying public relations, said, “Due to COVID, I will no longer be able to afford graduate school, and I am very unsure of how I will be able to afford housing after I graduate.” This has been a common response for many young adults struggling during these stressful and unpredictable times. 

Some students were lucky, in terms of their career and postgraduate plans, such as recent graduate Cindy Dang. 

Dang, now studying optometry, said, “It hasn’t impacted me much to be honest since I am in a post-graduate program. It forces me to stay home and study since we cannot physically leave safely.”

For some students, the pandemic shifted their career plans in a positive way and was a time for self-reflection and hope through such a difficult period of our lives.

Current Loyola Senior, studying journalism, Epiphany Johnican said, “The plan for me was to become a journalist. I was going to apply for as many jobs in media as possible. But because of COVID-19, the quarantine forced me into constant self-reflection. After giving it much thought, I realized that I have a passion for screenwriting. This is an industry that I wouldn’t have had much time to explore before graduation, had I not been laid off from my job due to the quarantine and had spare time on my hands.”

Through severely reduced hours and devastating layoffs, due to the pandemic, many young adults are still looking up, hopeful for the future, and finding the light at the end of the tunnel the best way they know-how.

Loyola Graduate student, Julie Young said, “At the end of June 2020, several employees, including myself, were laid off due to the lasting impact of the pandemic.  I have been

Julie Young Pictured

unemployed since then and it’s been really difficult to stay positive and find the motivation to do things sometimes, especially over the summer when I wasn’t in class. The financial impact has also been tough, especially considering I had just moved at the beginning of the year and had to go through a lot of steps to clarify my unemployment benefits between Illinois and Ohio. I didn’t receive my first unemployment check until late August.”

Young continues by saying, “I’ve been grateful to have the opportunity to focus on my school work in my first year of my Master’s degree. It definitely made the transition back to school after six-plus years easier. I still have another year of my degree, but I’ve been searching for a full-time role since getting furloughed and I’m hopeful I’ll find something soon.”

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