By: Swarna Gowtham
It’s quite obvious that it’s not the best time to be adulting as a Gen Z right now. As businesses are closing early and internships are being canceled due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. Many college students and recent graduates are struggling to find a job and therefore are struggling to find a secure income outlet. Not only that, but many Gen Z’ers were also robbed of many important life experiences. High school graduation, college graduation, study abroad experiences, experiencing the last day of your freshman year of high school or college are all things that many of us did not have the joys of encountering. Although this unfortunate truth presents a difficult time for young people today, it should go without being said their resilience as people is unmatched.
Many of the graduating seniors I have encountered at Indiana University (the college I attend) have entered an unemployable world with a determinant nature. It’s a powerful thing to see and it is parallel to what I remember millennials going through in the late 2000s during the time of the economic recession. Many have tried to job hunt through online resources like Linkedin and Glassdoor and some have succeeded in securing an online internship. Regardless of what comes their way, our generational response to the pandemic made us grow up overnight.
I talked to a few current/former students at Indiana University and asked them to describe how they personally and academically responded to recent events and these were the statements that they made:
“For myself personally, I’ve been dealing with the pandemic by using my newfound free time to relax and do a lot of personal reflection. I always made excuses about not having time to not think about a lot of things and plan out my future, so now i’m doing that and focusing on self improvement” says Paige Venturi , a recent IU graduate.
For freshman/incoming sophomores the pandemic has been a great opportunity for them to build a resume by applying to remote internships and scholarships.
“So I was supposed to study abroad and help run a political fellowship program out of IU, but they both got cancelled. I was most excited to be away from my family because they stress me out, and I was dreading coming home. I was also terrified about not having anything to add to my resume. But then out of the blue, I had a professor email me and ask me to be a research assistant for him this summer, and I work online and have Zoom calls with city government officials as part of my work. It’s difficult being at home all the time and my job is very difficult since I’m the most inexperienced on the team, but I’m so grateful I got lucky enough to land this opportunity. It gives me something to do, it’s important work, and I ended up getting a scholarship out of it.” says Samantha Waterman, an incoming IU sophomore.
Another occurrence that has struck young Americans within the past few weeks is the Black Lives Matter movement. For many of us, the movement represents is a generational contribution towards fighting for what’s right. Videos of teens and young adults of all races getting tear-gassed is a hard-hitting image for us to swallow especially when it comes to the issue we are fighting for. Not only are fighting against police brutality but we are fighting against the institutional racism that has affected Black Americans for generations upon generations. We learned about the Baby Boomers living through the civil rights movement and the Millennials living through the LA riots. And now we are living through our own piece of history all while a worldwide pandemic and economic crisis are occurring. With heavy hearts, it should be understood that young people, especially those who are Millennials and Gen Z were never powerless and that we will get through this together.