By Elizabeth Cichowski, Allyson Haefke, & Jaclyn DeMeuse
The University of Wisconsin – Green Bay (UWGB) 2021 graduates will enter the workforce during a global pandemic. Many of the graduates have mixed feelings about what to expect.
This year’s graduation ceremony will look a little different, as it is drive-thru graduation around the loop in front of the Green Bay One Stop Shop on campus. It will take place from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm on May 15th. Family and friends will accompany graduating students. Aside from an unusual graduation ceremony, graduating students have to jump headfirst into a pandemic workforce. Graduating students will have the opportunity to use their skills that they have learned at college and adjust to the changing needs of local businesses. These adjustments started early for the students with changes to their curriculums and education method as they were moved online for safety purposes. Students acclimated to a virtual learning environment, which businesses have moved toward for their collaboration efforts.
Over the last year, professors throughout the university have had to alter their curriculum to accommodate the vast number of students who have their education transferred to an online format. Phil Clampitt, Blair Endowed Chair of Communication at UWGB, explains that businesses are looking for new hires that are “tech-savvy, and willing to work from home.” This change in the curriculum was set in hopes of catering to these unique needs. Changes to the curriculum include using Collaborate Ultra to hold synchronous and asynchronous style classes. In this new-aged job search, Clampitt suggests that graduates should maintain their core values to set themselves apart from the rest. “Continuous improvement, strategic thinking, and collaboration, especially virtual collaboration, are the key differentiators,” Clampitt explains. Clampitt also specifies that UWGB graduates have “learned how to think through communication problems of all sorts” and to “accentuate that in interviews and life, and you can excel.” It is now in the hands of the students to showcase their experience and education for their future employers.
Seniors graduating in May 2021 have mixed feelings about entering the workforce. Hannah Wentzel, an environmental science major, already has jobs lined up after she graduates. Wentzel says, “I’m honestly excited to start working! I’m ready to apply everything I’ve learned the last four years and apply it to something more real-world and hands-on.”
Other students are nervous about moving on from their education into the workforce. Rylie Nugent, a computer science major, says, “I’m nervous. I don’t know if it’s because of the pandemic or just graduating in general. But yes, nervous.” Jaclyn DeMeuse agrees, “I’m nervous. The hiring process is unusual now. After applying, you may not hear back from businesses right away. This makes it so much more stressful.”
In addition, some students graduated in mid-pandemic, Fall 2020, including Business Administration graduate Hannah Stroede. Hannah Stroede already has a job by this point, but it took a while for her to get there. Stroede says, “I was applying for a few months. I feel lucky that I was able to find something, though, because I know many people are unable to currently.”
2021 graduates had a lot on their plate over the last year, from changes to their learning style to learning how to adapt to a more virtual lifestyle. Their stressors now switch from classwork to finding that dream job.