The Collegian
Friday, May 27, 2022

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Pandemic redefines the job market for UR students

<p>Gateway Capital Management, a student-run group on campus, aims to put all of its members in top finance jobs. So far the group has met that goal.&nbsp;</p>

Gateway Capital Management, a student-run group on campus, aims to put all of its members in top finance jobs. So far the group has met that goal. 

University of Richmond graduates are entering a job market shaped by the Great Resignation, marked by mass career exits triggered by the pandemic. It’s a professional landscape that looks different than ever before.

In November 2021, "U.S. employees quit at the highest rates in 20 years." 

People are leaving jobs over a variety of conditions, ranging from pay and lack of opportunities for advancement to questions over whether their work is essential or non-essential, according to the New York Times.

“With the Great Resignation, I think something that's really important is looking at why people are leaving their jobs,” Elisabeth Sciolla, '21, said. “A lot of the reasons are that they're not being supported for hybrid work, there's no mental health benefits or other things like that.” 

Sciolla and others are starting their careers at a time of change in the relationship between employers and the workforce. She is currently working as a knowledge analyst at McKinsey & Company.

“Essential workers are undervalued,” Sciolla said. “For example, nurses are so undervalued and we're seeing such a shortage of nurses now because they're not necessarily being treated with kindness and respect.” 

Amanda Brosnan, '21, is working from home as a governance and sustainability analyst at Rivel, Inc., and will be going into the office in person soon. Brosnan thought it was interesting to know how high the quit rate had been compared to other years, she said. 

“I've had friends that have quit their jobs because they're unhappy either with the company culture, the pay or just overall the work that they're actually doing,” she said. “But they've quickly been able to find another opportunity.”

Brosnan feels there are some positives coming from entering the workforce during this time, she said.

“Young professionals are really advocating for what they want, and it’s cool how it has opened those doors of possibility,” she said. “People are not going to stick around at a company that is not serving them.” 

On the matter of categorizing workers as essential or non-essential, according to an article in The New York Times: “It becomes difficult not to wonder if ‘essential’ is cynical, a polite way of classing humans as 'expendable' or ‘nonexpendable.’”

John Adams, executive in residence at the E. Claiborne Robins School of Business, believes the categorization of workers will not affect the way people see organizations and themselves, he said.

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“People value their careers when they feel they’re in an organization that is doing worthwhile work, their contributions are valued, they feel a sense of autonomy, they have some control over what they’re doing, they feel connected to others in the organization, they don’t feel isolated and they feel they have the opportunity to learn and grow,” Adams said. 

In terms of what is unimportant to people valuing their careers, essential and nonessential labels are insignificant, Adams said.

“Having some organization decide to call your work essential or nonessential makes little difference when looked at in this context," Adams said.  "In-person/virtual can affect one’s sense of connection to others in the organization, but unless there are extreme circumstances, that issue is not a driver for most of us.”

Among the possible scenarios, Brosnan and Sciolla agreed that starting a job at home was very tough because there's no separation [of work life and home life] at all. 

“We were lucky enough to be on campus last year and I think the transition to then having to work from home and not having any human interaction was challenging,” Sciolla said.

A positive of the post-pandemic workplace is that many employers value new approaches, Brosnan said. Both Sciolla and Brosnan spoke on the flexibility of careers for young professionals.

“I think it's a really good time to be in the workforce and to be a young professional because we're getting a lot more options and encouragement to do what we want and choose the best career process,” Brosnan said. 

Senior Julien Wadhwa will be starting a job at Accenture after graduation and he said that the current virtual landscape had been beneficial because it allowed him to do interviews from anywhere. 

“ I like doing remote interviews — it's nicer,” Wadhwa said. “I think it's easier to prep, it's easier to succeed, it's easier to try to apply for jobs that are anywhere you want to go. I was interviewing for positions in the D.C. area without having to go there.” 

Those graduating in the coming months should see some stability in the job market, Adams said.

Contact Contributor Cortney Klein cortney.klein@richmond.edu.

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