Lakers face impacts of pandemic on life after graduation


GVL / Meghan Landgren

Grace Smith, Staff Writer

Students, faculty and staff at Grand Valley State University have seen a return to some normalcy on campus. Along with masks and mandatory vaccines, the GVSU community has returned to in-person classes, sports and activities on campus.

The graduation ceremony is one important tradition for all college students- and GVSU students are no exception. In-person commencement is returning this semester. Students are allowed to bring up to four guests and must be masked per the GVSU alert level two guidelines. While there is no procession, students will be able to walk across the stage and receive their diplomas in person.

While there is a lot to celebrate for graduates, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted plans beyond graduation as Lakers leave the university.

Senior Lauren Mroczek said the pandemic continues to impact her life as she leaves GVSU. Like many others, she has been forced to alter her post-graduation plans as a result of the consequences of the pandemic. 

“Attending college has not been as easy, so when I decide to go back to school to earn a professional degree, I would like the pandemic to not affect my education as much,” Mroczek said.

When COVID-19 shut down schools and moved classes online, internships and volunteer opportunities that students rely on for resumes and graduation requirements were impacted as well. Due to nationwide closures and cancellations, students of all academic standing lost out on vital experiences which are important rites of passage towards settling on a career after graduation.

The GVSU Career Center has helped students ways to explore career options and build their resumes despite the challenges, career advisor Meghan Veltri said. Although many students were not able to do traditional internships, job shadowings or volunteer hours, the Career Center has worked to still prepare students for post-graduation life through other methods.

“I’ve just been telling students to try and do what they can despite it,” Veltri said. “For example, if you can’t do job shadowing, can you do informational interviews with people in the field.”

Advisors like Veltri help students build proficient resumes cover letters and other job application materials during their time as GVSU students despite the challenges of COVID-19. Through their services, students were directed to alternative ways of gaining experiences that are important for future employers or graduate schools to see when considering applications.

The Career Center has also hosted many virtual events over the last year to help students explore job and internship opportunities in the Grand Rapids area as well as potential higher education resources, Veltri said.  

The Career Center has also assisted many students with their virtual interviewing skills, Veltri said. As an increasing number of employers now use Zoom or similar video conferencing platforms in their repertoire, applicants must learn or relearn skills for virtual interviews.

Veltri said that there are many resources with tips and information available to students through the GVSU Career Center. Although many perceive the current job market as struggling following the height of the pandemic, Veltri said there are ample opportunities for GVSU alumni to find a job.

“There’s a lot of content out there right now,” Veltri said. “I would encourage (students) to still connect with our office, however, I know a lot of people think the job market isn’t good, but a lot of employers are looking for students and alumni right now.”