News

Ursinus Unites, Rallies Around Class of 2020

The Office of Career and Post-Graduate Development is teaming up with the Office of Alumni Relations to provide mentorship to students who face an uncertain job market in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Some students have gotten jobs over the last few weeks, which is a positive sign, but overall, I’d describe the job market as frozen,” said Sharon Hansen, director of career and post-graduate development. “Many organizations are still assessing their business prospects and mobility for the coming year, and even their working environment. Will their employees continue to work from home? There are still so many unknowns.”

Those unknowns have had a direct impact on members of the Class of 2020, who are entering a workforce wrought with challenges as many organizations are forced to make difficult decisions on layoffs and furloughs. The sobering reality is that Ursinus’s newest alumni are now faced with hiring freezes, withdrawals of offers, delayed start dates and tough competition for jobs.

With that in mind, Ursinus doubled down on their commitment to the recent graduates by creating a new initiative, “Ursinus Unites,” which will allow Ursinus alumni and parents to help members of the Class of 2020 find full-time jobs, postgraduate internships, short-term projects and gap-year opportunities beginning in mid-August.

All the Ursinus Unites opportunities will be put into the college’s Handshake system and will only be viewable to the members of the Class of 2020 who register for the program. Each graduate will also have their resume reviewed and will view an orientation video designed to prepare them to succeed in the program.

“One of the things I admire most about Ursinus College alumni and parents is the willingness among this group to reflect upon those mentors who helped them along their professional journeys and pay it forward for the next generation of Ursinus graduates,” says Abbie Cichowski Kim ’10, director of alumni relations and annual giving. “The office of advancement is thrilled to partner with our colleagues in CPD on an initiative in support of our newest Bears that highlights our collective attention to two of the Ursinus Quest core curriculum’s four questions: How should we live together? and What Will I Do?

“This combination of empathy and positive action is what defines our community, in good times and challenging ones.”

One group of alumni that can relate to the current job climate are those who graduated in 2008 and 2009 amid the recession. On July 21, the Office of Career and Post-Graduate Development hosted a virtual panel featuring Ursinus alumni from those class years who discussed the challenges they faced at the time. Today, each of them is thriving.

“This is a pandemic, so no one has been through this exact situation before, but alumni who graduated during the great recession can offer messages about resilience,” Hansen said. “They provide a great resource for the Class of 2020.”

Hansen is optimistic that remote working could lead to more virtual job opportunities for the Class of 2020 as companies shift to an online environment, and this academic year, CPD will still offer its signature programs—virtually—including a virtual graduate and professional school expo, the employer-in-residence series, and a student-employer mixer. The Class of 2020 is invited to participate in all those programs.

For more information about Ursinus Unites, click here. –By Ed Moorhouse