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College graduates plan their future while dealing with impact of pandemic

Celebrating graduation
Posted at 12:23 AM, May 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-17 08:33:13-04

INDIANAPOLIS — It's graduation season and outgoing college students are turning their tassels this month, preparing to chart a career path during an unprecedented time in history.

On the day before commencement, IUPUI students posed for pictures to mark the occasion in front of the big IUPUI letters. While the pandemic created many challenges in higher education, students said some changes have been positive.

"It has been very difficult but I hope that the academic environment has learned to become more accessible to more people," Noelle Broughton said.

"There were a lot of things that came up that we never would have expected that we encountered and professors I think are more understanding," Ali Danhoff said.

Both Broughton and Danhoff are getting their master's degree in Public Affairs. Because they're further along in their education, their career plans are set. Danhoff is keeping her current job while Broughton is heading to Kansas to get her PhD. She'll be finished with that in 5 years, but wonders if the pandemic could still impact her when she starts looking for a job.

"I hear a lot of people compare right now to the 2008 Recession especially in the academic job market and how that job market never bounced back the way it used to be," Broughton said. "I am a little bit nervous about what it's going to be like in five years when I start looking for a job."

For those looking for their first job, like a lot of undergraduates, Danhoff offers up this advice:

"I know a couple of people and I just tell them to keep trying, don't give up. I know a lot of places are hiring and people are getting interviews."

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Lindsay Bouwie will receive her master's in nursing on Saturday. She's set to be a nurse practitioner. She and her classmates, many of them RN's for years, were definitely impacted by the pandemic.

"Most of us were just really trying to figure out working and doing clinicals during COVID-19 as well as school work on top of that. We were trying to help our units out and help out our patients," Bouwie said. For her and many other healthcare graduates, the COVID crisis showed them they are capable of pushing themselves to be great providers in extraordinary circumstances. It's something Bouwie will carry with her throughout the rest of her career.

"This year really tested us to be even more flexible. It was interesting being a healthcare provider, going back to school during COVID-19, but it kind of taught you resilience, keep going and keep moving forward."