Graduating and navigating the start of your career can be daunting even under normal circumstances. The Covid-19 pandemic added more challenging aspects to this experience. The mental toll of taking on a job for the first time amidst a pandemic has weighed down on many young individuals.
Muyeed Murshed, an EEE graduate of BRAC University, co-founded the start-up Catch Bangladesh in 2017. Due to the pandemic, he had to face uncertainties for the future of his business. "Initially I was scared, but after doing some research, I realised that the job market in Bangladesh was not heavily affected due to the pandemic," he said. "Some renowned companies were carrying on their recruitment process at the same rate as before. Moreover, due to the unique circumstances, some organisations implemented friendlier hiring practices." Muyeed elaborated that certain multinational companies have introduced a virtual internship programme, which allowed young professionals from different parts of the country to be eligible, without leaving their homes.
On the other hand, Atish Kabir*, a CSE graduate from IUB, noticed a lack of opportunities on online job portals, especially for full-time employment. "I already completed an unpaid internship. I expected to attain a full-time job after that, but it has been slim pickings for me," he said. "I am working as an intern again at another company, but I hope I will be promoted soon." For many like Atish, navigating the purely virtual nature of applying for jobs, attending exams and appearing for Zoom interviews has been difficult.
Leeyana Rahman, an EEE graduate from BRAC University, had been trying for a while to get a job. "It has been tiring to keep tabs on every relevant job opening and following up with them. When I got rejected from my dream job in the final interview, I decided I needed a break," she said.
Fariha Mahzabin's thesis was delayed, and she also felt the impact of the lack of faculty support and supervision on her work. An English major from Metropolitan University of Sylhet, she was set to graduate in April 2020. Most universities took a couple of months to begin online classes at that time. Eventually, Fariha finished her undergraduate thesis in January 2021, but not without derailing her postgraduate plans. She wanted to go abroad for further studies, but is currently finding it difficult to make any decisions. Maliha Akhter, another English major from the university, found the experience of her last semester unsatisfactory, and missed the face-to-face discussions.
Atanu Chowdhury, currently a master's student at Rajshahi University, also graduated during the pandemic from the same institution. "It took nearly an additional year for me to complete my undergraduate education. During that time, I lost all inspiration for studying abroad, as I had previously hoped to do," he said. Atanu's family faced financial instability due to the pandemic. Consequently, he picked up freelance jobs, whilst continuing his studies.
Most universities in the country do not hold convocation ceremonies annually. So, this aspect of graduating has not been visibly impacted. Yet, finishing up their undergraduate education from their homes was a strange and sad experience for these students.
*Name has been changed for privacy.
The author gets by in life with books, movies and making fluid art, while maintaining a job in software engineering. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.