Navigating the Post-Grad World Amid a Pandemic

Elizabeth Pruitt

Each May, millions of twenty-somethings are thrust from the protective bubble of college into the so-called “real world”, where they must find jobs and navigate life on their own. 

But, the Class of 2020 was thrust into a world that was shut down due to COVID-19. Many businesses were closing their doors to new hires. The Class of 2020 was in for a wild ride, and Spring Arbor University’s graduates were no exception. 

Now that a few months have passed since their graduation, what did Spring Arbor University’s Class of 2020 do?

What a typical work day looks for Montoya. Photo Credit: Amy Montoya

Despite the pandemic, many SAU grads were able to find careers post-graduation. Amy Montoya, a computer science major, found a job working for Hewlett Packard Enterprise in Atlanta, Georgia as a solutions architect. She was able to snatch up her job in November of 2019, so she was secured before COVID-19 hit the United States.

However, Montoya’s work days have still been affected as she works remotely every day. She has only met with her coworkers and bosses in person just two days out of the last few months she has been in the position. Montoya had to give up a semester abroad in Japan when COVID-19 struck and had to live alone in an apartment in a new city halfway across the country from her hometown. Still, she presses on and is optimistic about her future. 

“Although the class of 2020 had to make sacrifices for COVID-19,” said Montoya, “…I understand the sacrifices were made for the greater good. It’s easy to feel like COVID-19 has personally attacked you and ruined your plans, but the truth is, everyone has had to make sacrifices and adjustments for COVID-19; not just me and not just you. The sooner we begin thinking about others as ourselves, the sooner we can move past this unprecedented time and make way for a brighter future.”

Professional Writing major Libby Koziarski has started working remotely as a communications copywriter for the Orlando-based non-profit, Ligonier Ministries. The job she applied for was not originally a remote position. It was strictly for people who could work on location. Koziarski, who had always dreamed of working with Ligonier Ministries, applied anyway, and after a rigorous interview process over Zoom, got the job. 

“I was extraordinarily blessed when it came to finding a job during COVID-19. I got the job by God’s grace and I couldn’t be more grateful,” Koziarski said. 

Many students who graduated from SAU in May were not employed right away and some are still unemployed. Either way, they have not given up hope. Madilyn Nissley, a youth ministry major, has become a nanny for local families a few times a week as she continues to look for a full-time position in youth ministry. She is enjoying the time she gets to spend with her family after four years away from them.

Kaelyn Hale, a communications major, did some freelancing, such as designing a website for Branch Adventures Day Camp and doing SEO for Chrome21, a Down Syndrome Awareness store, until she found a full-time position. She recently has been hired as a marketing associate at Design Force Marketing in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She went on many job interviews before nabbing this position, but did not give up hope that she would find a job that was right for her.

Other students went the graduate school route. This past spring, health and exercise science major Megan Mitchell was dealing with the sudden loss of her senior year, her grandmother’s death, being wait-listed for grad school, and had no idea where her future would take her. 

“Yet through that time, I could feel Jesus holding me close and whispering, ‘I’m here. I know and understand everything that’s breaking your heart. I love you more than you can imagine and we’re going to get through this,’” Mitchell said. 

Megan was then offered a spot at Grand Valley University’s occupational therapy graduate school. Mitchell completes most of her classes online and through Zoom. She also meets in-person for some classes just three days a month. Although it was rough for her, she said she has learned a lot about herself and grew in ways she never thought she would have. 

Brown with one of her patients. Photo credit: Megan Brown

Megan Brown, a biology major, moved to Arizona where she is attending the University of Arizona’s College of veterinary medicine. Brown is a part of the university’s first veterinary medicine class. Moving from Michigan to Arizona was a big step, especially in the midst of COVID-19, but Brown has been successful in her classes and is enjoying her time in Arizona.

SAU’s Class of 2020 is an example of the faith in God the university teaches students to have. In times of uncertainty, these graduates were resilient. Whether they have found a job or are still on the lookout, the class of 2020 pushed on. 

Check out what some of the other members of the SAU’s Class of 2020 are doing post-grad by checking out the Spring Arbor Student Alumni Council’s Instagram, linked here

Want more information regarding navigating life post-grad? Visit the Career Development’s website, linked here, or contact Chad Melton at chad.melton@arbor.edu.