Let’s go on a short time travel journey: the date is February 2020. A time when the Corona outbreak has not reached a global pandemic level yet. I am working slightly stressed but focused towards my master’s degree, screening the job market and sending the first applications for autumn 2020. “Getting there”, I am telling myself. However, within a month, the situation has changed drastically. Corona hits the whole world with a huge slam and literally everything transforms. From fantasising about how life as young professional in a big city would be like to strategically planning where to still get a new toilet paper package, really quickly.
Nearly as fast as I sent out the applications, the matching rejections follow. Currently, my email-inbox is characterized by mails starting with devastating openings, such as “unfortunately, the position has been pulled back…”, or “the application process has been stopped for an uncertain amount of time…”, and of course the classic one, “thank you for your interest. We regret to inform you…”. And if I am honest to myself, this is just the beginning.
The job market is continuously turning into a nightmare. Unemployment is rising, companies are forced to close, short time work is increased, wages are shortened and, last but not least, the whole world economy is basically collapsing. There have probably been better times to enter the professional sphere, I assume.
“Is this what alumna must have experienced in 2008 during the global financial crisis?”, I keep on wondering. I remember what we have learned during our economic courses about this time, how the situation was on the labour market and how I already, back then, thought that this must have been horrible.
Well, there is just a minor difference between the financial crisis in 2008 and the Corona crisis now: this time it is not only our economy that falls apart, the health systems break down too and people keep on dying, as well. Just to casually mention these two aspects. In addition, focusing solely on comparing the economic situations of 2008 and now, the financial crisis did not hinder application processes by quarantine measures or lockdowns. It seems as if Corona watched the financial disaster of 2008 and concluded: “Hold my beer, I’ll show you what a real crisis is.”
Certainly, there are more important things right now than to worry about starting a career. Just from a personal view, the feeling of having worked hard for five years, taking financial debts for studies and having to convince the people around you over and over again why social studies matter, to end up unemployed afterwards, is not the best in the world. Nevertheless, it is true: the situation is what it is. We all have to make the most out of it. And as many voices already stated, this could be a point for our society to rethink some of its concepts such as competitiveness.
Laura Plum, master’s student at FASoS