Graduating during a downturn

There is a lot of good research on the impact of graduating during an economic downturn. The long and short of it is that your graduation year is a key input in your lifetime earnings and that the effects of graduating in a recession tend to persist.

By all accounts, COVID-19 is a ridiculously bad time to graduate. It isn’t just a bizarre year from the perspective of the job market. Graduates who have a job will face an unusual first year as part of the workforce. With organizations and the people generally unprepared and dealing with multiple stressors, they’re unlikely to get the training that they need on the job.

And, for those who don’t have a job, it is looking like it might be a long road back.

This is especially the case for the hundreds of thousands of students who made their way to other nations – predominantly the United States – to study. As one of those who made my way here a few years ago, I can only imagine the amount of stress today’s executive order would have caused.

This is not say that I am are above this stress. There are ripple effects of these orders that have immediate impact on the uncertainty we face. But, I have it a lot better by simple virtue of when I graduated..

These are moments when you realize how big a role dumb luck plays in any professional success we enjoy. It is so easy to attribute things that are going well to our smarts and hard work. But, there’s so much more to any success than that.

And, finally, every time I find myself in situations like this, I remind myself to stay focused on what I control and do my best to make the most of the opportunities that I have on my hands. And that this too shall pass.

It does.

In time.