How COVID-19 is affecting internship and job opportunities for students and graduates

By Guowei(Gary)Li

The outbreak of COVID-19 has had a serious negative impact on global economic development, production, and living order. China’s current outbreak has passed its most difficult period, but North America and European outbreaks are still growing rapidly and the number of infections continues to rise. 

Compared with the immediate threat to the life of the new coronavirus, the impact of the epidemic on the employment of college students has also been problematic. The continued spread of the international epidemic and the increase of uncertainty factors will affect 2020 college graduates across the globe.

COVID-19 is still not effectively improved at this stage, which is affecting recent and current FHSU graduates as they navigate the job search process amid the pandemic. 

Sylvia Zeng studied International Finance at FHSU in 2017 and applied to Loughborough University in the UK after graduation. She was due to graduate in June but had to return to China early due to the aggravation of the epidemic in the UK. 

“The impact of COVID-19 on my learning was that I had to go online to teach my lessons in school, and there was a big difference in the way I felt when I was taking classes on campus,” Zeng said. “I have many professional courses and group cooperation projects, but the current situation is not able to communicate face to face, which has a certain impact on the level of learning, communication and discussion.” 

After returning to China, Zeng’s online course ended and her workload decreased to just writing papers.

“The original plan was to go back to China to participate in the autumn recruitment and then do internship and work,” she said. “Now I feel the need to advance the plan, and then I feel anxious. And during COVID-19, it didn’t feel particularly easy to find a job.”

Cindy Guo is an MBA major at FHSU. But because of The campus shutdown caused by COVID-19, she had to consider an extension.

“I am all for the way professors teach online, both for your own safety and for the safety of more people. Due to COVID-19, I chose to give up my internship and take home quarantine for safety reasons,” Guo said. “I plan to return to China after graduation to find a job in a university. Because I like the quietness of the school, I can work hard with my young and energetic classmates every day, which makes me love life more.”

The reduction of employment opportunities can be explored from both supply and demand in the labor market. In terms of demand, the growing size of graduates is leading to high demand for jobs. For international students in the U.S., 1,095,299 international students were in the U.S. in 2018/19, including those in academic programs and Optional Practical Training (OPT). 

OThe huge scale of graduates will undoubtedly bring great employment competition and employment pressure to college graduates, and the increase in labor supply will lead to fierce competition for employment opportunities. 

From the supply point of view, the combination of economic downturn and the impact of the outbreak has led to a reduction in the supply of jobs. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Trump administration is expected to put in place temporary restrictions on a program that allows international students to stay in the U.S. to work for up to three years after graduating while staying on their student visas, 

It’s unclear where the specific impact of these restrictions will go if implemented, but Trump administration officials say they are designed to help U.S. graduates find entry-level jobs during the economic downturn. Administration officials point out that unemployment is as high as 26 percent among 18-24-year-olds who will appear to compete with international students, which is the reason for the temporary restrictions on the scheme.

Increased employment costs are also inhibiting recent graduates in the job search. One such way this occurs is the increased cost of waiting. The full control of the epidemic also needs some time, some enterprises have not returned to work, most colleges and universities have not yet set a start date, and college graduates can not participate in the enterprise recruitment fair and graduation thesis defense in time.

Under the influence of the epidemic, many college graduates may not be able to find suitable jobs after graduation, be able to rent a house or continue to seek employment. During this waiting time, many graduates will spend more human and material resources, directly increase the material cost of employment of college graduates. 

Second, the opportunity cost increases. Without a sudden outbreak, many graduates have gone to work or are interning and have earned some income. But because of the impact of the outbreak, some individuals can only choose to wait at home for employment. 

On May 27th a bipartisan group of U.S. senators urged the Department of Education to change the “Free Application for Federal Student Aid” form so that students could consider reducing their income when seeking assistance.

“We are concerned that the current financial situation of students who recently filed, or are in the process of filing, their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) may not be accurately reflected,” the senators wrote in a letter to U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. “Students and families who have recently become unemployed or suffered a significant drop in income may fail to qualify for the support they need to afford college.”

The letters were signed by two Democrats, Senator Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire and Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, as well as two Republicans, Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina and Senator Kelly Loeffler of Georgia.

The senators asked DeVos to issue a guidance document emphasizing that the university’s financial aid managers were able to exercise their professional judgment and adjust the income of recently unemployed students to zero. The senator also proposed a number of other steps, including adding a question to the FAFSA form so that students could notice that their income had been reduced as a result of the COVID-19.


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