Photo by Pang Yuhao on Unsplash

The COVID-19 crisis has plunged the American economy into a depression not seen since the 1930s. With unemployment hovering around 20 percent, the job market for students and new grads is bleak. 

Two million students are expected to earn a bachelor’s degree in 2020 and past studies show that individuals who graduate during hard economic times can be at a disadvantage for as long as 10 or 15 years compared to their contemporaries who graduated even a year before hard times hit. 

Finding a job in 2020 is going to be tough and require patience, creativity and tenaciousness. Job sites like ZipRecuiter have seen entry-level professional position postings fall by 73 percent in the last three months.

Now that new grads are armed with the shiny diploma they worked so hard for, they’re now faced with the big question: “Now what.”

Creative Incubator Contest

While the ideal post-graduation path is to secure a permanent job, Protect All Kids, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting school safety and creative education is offering a contest for recent grads designed to spur and fund innovation.

The $250,000 Creative American Award program is a unique crisis relief program where young Americans can submit their talent or novel business ideas. The scholarship program is open to everyone whether you’re an engineer or an artist. All innovative business ideas are welcome.

“Over a decade ago, I received a life-saving full merit-based scholarship through the United States Education Advising Center,” explained ChiEastre Chigoretti, founder of Protect All Kids. “The scholarship I received was life-changing. I always want to give back in any way possibleDuring this time of uncertainty of life after COVID-19, what better time to give back than now?”

Protect All Kids will choose the best 100 ideas received. Each recipient will have 90 days and $3,000 to develop their business or invention. Their work will be done virtually in light of COVID-19 concerns. During this three-month period, Creative scholars will receive virtual training from experts associated with Protect All Kids to develop, test, prototype and refine their ideas. Scholars can also win an additional $10,000 Tutor of the Month Award by sharing what they’re learning on daily basis and using specific Protect the Kids hashtags. 

At the end of the three-month internship program, the American public will vote via social media for the idea they would like to see funded with up to an additional $250,000 to fund the idea, develop talent or fulfill purchase orders. The goal is not only to fund the entrepreneur, but also to help fund a business or idea that will benefit the community and the economy in a time of hardship across the board. 

Be Flexible

In this job market recent grads need to think outside of the box. This is a time to cast a wide net. If your dream job was in finance on Wall Street, by all means apply to investment banks, but also apply for other business and finance jobs too. Even if you don’t land your dream job, if you can land a job you will gain valuable work experience that will give you a leg up when the economy gets better and the big firms are hiring more freely.

Grads also need to have an open mind about where the job is located. The more places you’re open to living in, the bigger pool of available jobs you have. With COVID-19 causing many employers to transition to a remote workforce you may actually find your dream employer will even let you work from your current location.


You may have thought that you left intern days behind when you graduated, but in today’s marketplace, an internship can give you a foot in the door to a full-time job in the future. Research what companies are offering internships, many are doing virtual internships right now. If there is a specific company you want to work for, approach them about doing an internship. If finances allow, you might also consider doing a short-term unpaid internship, or volunteer work to gain experience for your resume. 


Networking has always been the best path to find a job. Experts say upwards of 85 percent of jobs are found via personal contacts. In tough economic times your network becomes even more imperative. As a new grad you may not yet have an extensive personal network. Now is the time to leverage the alumni from your university, the college career center, your friends and family network and to create a virtual network via LinkedIn.  

There is no question about it, graduating in 2020 is not ideal. The newly minted grads that find work are going to be those that think outside of the box and don’t give up easily.