Staring Down a Black Hole: The Current Job Market Through the Eyes of a Gen Z Undergrad

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“Every generation thinks they have it the worst” yeah, yeah, we’ve all heard it.

Baby boomers had the civil rights movement, Gen X faced the 2008 recession, and millennials struggled through a price increase in avocados (kidding!).

As a Gen Z myself, I always thought we had it easy. I mean, to think other generations didn’t have Netflix or iPhones! 

While our generation has grown up with the world at our fingertips, why is it so hard for us to break into the “real world”?

We can apply for a job with just the click of a button, work remotely from anywhere across the world, and network with virtually anyone through LinkedIn. So theoretically, technology has set us up to be the most successful generation when it comes to the post-grad job hunt.

Well… that is until covid happened… and then the 2023 layoffs…

70% of companies are likely to implement a hiring freeze in 2023.

34% say their organizations are reducing or eliminating holiday gifts or bonuses this year.

27% reduced salaries of current employees.

Not to mention the rising cost of living, the freeze on minimum wage, and the fact that most entry-level jobs list 2-5 years of previous experience as a requirement.

The current job market has left Gen Z wondering if all their hard work (and tuition costs) will actually pay off. As undergrads embark on their job-seeking process, it can feel as though they are staring down a black hole.

Take a specific colleague of mine as an example- they’re a senior studying business in the Honors College, have a 3.96 GPA, hold 3 leadership positions on student executive boards, have work experience, and actively participate in service and community engagement. Sounds like a total catch- right?

Well, what if I told you that 4.5 months of job seeking, 75 job applications, 10 video interviews, 2 zoom interviews, and 1 in-person interview all yielded only one job offer in the current job market?

And this is just one of the 18.2 million undergrad students in the US seeking a job.

So, to my fellow Gen Z students, don’t give up. While the world of employment is intimidating, there are tools you can utilize to help this experience feel less daunting. We may not know what’s on the other side of a black hole; however, astronauts always go into outer space prepared.  

Be sure to utilize your resources to improve your odds of success. The technology is at your fingertips, and it’s time for you to grasp it. Connect, connect, connect. Go to networking events, grow your LinkedIn profile, and share your Personal User Manual whenever and wherever possible (especially with recruiters)!

And remember, if you can make it through a pandemic, you can make it through anything!


Hannah Karaman is a graduating senior at West Chester University with a major in Business Management and a double minor in Entrepreneurship and Italian. Hannah is also the president of the WCU’s Women in Business organization and an active student in the WCU Cottrell Entrepreneurship Center.

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