Hannah Khorassani reads about COVID-19 symptoms on her laptop, at her residence in Daly City, Calif., on July 19, 2020.) Khorassani’s mother, who lives in Los Angeles, recently tested positive for COVID-19. (Harika Maddala/ Golden Gate Xpress) (Harika Maddala)
Hannah Khorassani reads about COVID-19 symptoms on her laptop, at her residence in Daly City, Calif., on July 19, 2020.) Khorassani’s mother, who lives in Los Angeles, recently tested positive for COVID-19. (Harika Maddala/ Golden Gate Xpress)

Harika Maddala

Life slows down for SF State graduates in a shrinking job market

July 24, 2020

Recent SF State graduates are struggling to find work post-graduation due to the pandemic and economic recession. According to the Labor Department, approximately 25 million people have filed for unemployment since March.

SF State graduates said they had pictured transitioning from college to the workforce much differently. Some graduates moved back home with their families and are either being supported by their parents or unemployment checks. According to a twitter poll, 54% of the SF State graduating class of 2020 is currently unemployed.

“It’s definitely a stressful situation. Sometimes I just get overwhelmed,” Kyle Chong, who has a bachelor’s degree in cinema, said. “I feel like all the work I put into my career was just stopped and I’m not sure what my next step is going to be.”

Hannah Khorassani talks to her mother on the phone while her boyfriend Steve Garcia watches Malcolm in the Middle during breakfast at their residence in Daly City, Calif., on July 19, 2020. (Harika Maddala/ Golden Gate Xpress)

Recent graduates, such as Hannah Khorassani, agreed that the anticlimactic experience of the online commencement was reflected in their journey to finding work after finishing their undergraduate degree.

Khorassani double-majored and earned both of her bachelor’s degrees in speech therapy and business marketing. After spending five years at SF State and studying in Spain, she explained her fruitless online graduation experience and how she feels it mirrors the herculean task of entering the workforce during a recession.

“I went through all this stress and hard work just to watch it on screen,” Khorassani said. “And then to not even be able to find work afterwards is really frustrating.”

Elif Balin, a career counselor at SF State, explained that the struggle for employment does not only pertain to the graduating class of 2020. The pandemic responsible for creating the worst economic condition since the Great Depression is affecting everyone. Balin’s advice for SF State’s class of 2020 is to not be overly particular when job searching.

Will Dunton eats lunch while sitting in his car parked in shade in the parking lot outside In-N-Out Burger. Dunton, who is currently unemployed, spends his time walking at the City Park or hanging out with his friends. He plans to find a job in San Francisco and move back into the city. (Harika Maddala/ Golden Gate Xpress/ Brentwood, Calif., July 22, 2020)

“Recent college graduates may need to compromise and find employment that isn’t in their field, like working in a grocery store or other essential businesses,” Balin said. “This doesn’t mean that you’re going to be miserable or that you’ll never get your dream job. It will give you experience, give you a sense of purpose during these times and actually benefit mental health.”

Balin explained how important it is to find any type of employment within six months of graduating. Being unemployed for an extended amount of time can discourage individuals.

Balin explained that there are resources available to aid graduates seeking employment. SF State’s Career Services and Leadership Development regularly posts which companies are hiring. LinkedIn has a webpage full of information regarding businesses that are employing and the National Career Development Association provides helpful recommendations as well.

Although aware of the economy’s current state, many graduates are peristing in their hunt for work.

“I’ve applied to over 200 jobs by now using the quick-apply option on LinkedIn. I’ve heard back from two employers and I’m actually in the middle of those two processes right now,” Chong said. “That is good news but two responses out of over 200 is insane and even then I’m not sure I’ll get those jobs.”

SF State graduates also mused on how professors have guided them through the process of finding work. Professors have helped with building resumes, sending out job opportunities and providing tips and tricks when communicating with recruiters.

Will Dunton shows a video on his phone to his friend Matthew Anglo while lounging on the couch at his residence. (Harika Maddala/ Golden Gate Xpress/ Brentwood, Calif., July 22, 2020)

“Professor Miriam Smith helped me and my other classmates with building our resumes,” said Broadcasting and Electronic Communication Arts graduate Will Dunton. “She also sent us information about job opportunities. She actually recently sent out information about an internship in LA and explained how to sign up for housing there.”

Some SF state graduates were already working in their fields and were laid off at the onset of the pandemic. Other graduates were promised jobs after finishing their degree, but due to COVID-19 and a dubious economy they lost those opportunities.

Kathryn Cariaso, who has a bachelor’s degree in marketing, graduated last spring. Before graduating she interned part time at Day One Baby, a healthcare startup company. Cariaso planned on becoming a full-time employee, but her arrangements changed after graduation.

“I’m leaving Day One Baby soon,” Cariaso said. “It’s definitely really nerve wracking because my plans got switched up but I just keep trying to apply to as many companies as I can.”

Khorassani was also already working in her field too. At the beginning of the spring semester she taught a preschool class. As the pandemic grew as a threat she was laid off. Since March, there have been more than 440,000 confirmed COVID cases in California.

“I started babysitting when I first lost my job but I had to stop doing that too,” Khorassani said. “I’m basically just living off of EDD really.”

What makes SF State graduates feel better about their current situation is knowing that others are going through similar obstacles.

“The thing that calms me down is knowing that I’m not alone in this distress,” Chong said. “I’m not alone in this situation and I’m not a unique circumstance.”

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About the Contributors
Erica Gray
Erica Gray is a 22-year-old journalism student from the Bay Area. She enjoys writing about mental health, art and beauty. When Erica isn't writing articles for Golden Gate Xpress, she works as an ABA therapist for children with autism. On her free time, Erica loves reading, writing poetry, playing with makeup, watching horror films and jamming out to her favorite Misfits songs.
Photo of Harika Maddala
Harika Maddala
Harika Maddala is a senior year student at San Francisco State University, pursuing a bachelor’s

in Photojournalism and a minor in International Relations. Born and raised in India, Harika

earned her BA in journalism in the country and transferred to SF State in 2019, to earn a four-

year bachelor’s degree. She has been clicking photos since age 14 and has had her photos

displayed at various galleries including at a TedX exhibition in India in 2016, at Yerba Buena

Arts Gallery in June 2019, and at Samy’s Camera in the Spring of 2019. Harika enjoys shooting

anything with a lot of action- dance, weddings, concerts, protests, and riots. She is currently

exploring multimedia and finds video and audio editing relaxing- almost like a craft of weaving

things together. She joined the Xpress newspaper team in Summer 2020 and this is her last

semester in college. She aims to work on more projects related to queer identities, race and

immigration issues, body image, and mental health in the future.

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