Upcoming graduating college seniors looking for employment will be met with a different work landscape from years prior due to the pandemic.
Graduating Texas State University students majoring in psychology, one of the most popular college majors to be affected by COVID-19, are adjusting to the changes of employment as internship opportunities become remote and harder to find.
Georgina Herrera, a psychology major at Texas State University, has been interested in her field of study since took a psychology class in high school. Now a college senior, Herrera plans to enroll in graduate school at Texas State next fall to earn a Ph.D. in industrial psychology after.
In Fall 2020, Herrera got an internship at a living community for people with mental disabilities. She initially did the internship over zoom—building a relationship with a resident through weekly one-hour chats, interviewing staff, and doing a virtual painting session for the residents—before switching over to in-person.
While Herrera didn’t find getting the job too hard, she found doing the job over zoom to be difficult as there were sometimes audio problems and body language was hard to read for her. Now, in-person, she finds the job to much more easier.
“Starting in person its been more of like they [residents] see me, they recognize me, and they’ll start to get more comfortable. So, we’ll start having more meaningful conversations… and I feel more comfortable too because I don’t have the problem with technology [and] having to say ‘huh’ every five seconds because of the audio,” Herrera said.
College of Liberal Arts Career Services liaison Tori Graham said psychology degrees are versatile as the field offers skills applicable to many jobs such as critical thinking, writing and knowledge in human behavior. However, the versatility is what also makes pinpointing a certain career path difficult for students.
“For students that are graduating with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and entering the field, they are trained in so many different areas,” Graham said. “It is important to get an experience in trying things through internships, through volunteering, student organizations so that you can start to figure out things you like and hopefully know what you like can kind of help [psychology majors] specifically lead into types of career fields
According to the American Psychology Association (APA), psychology students are either facing delays in internship completion or some internships closing.
Graham also has seen the ways internships and employment are changing from recruiting fewer applicants or moving to be virtual. For psychology students, she met, however, their main concern is the few opportunities to apply their skills in person.
“Some of the challenges I have heard from students is them staying ‘I don’t think I have many opportunities to get involved and then draw from those experiences and tell employers I have all these skills…,’” Graham said. “It may be true that they were fewer opportunities but you just kind of have to get a little bit creative.”
There are other ways for psychology students to demonstrate their knowledge and experience in their line of study such as showcasing work done for a class project in one’s resume or joining a related student organization.
Bliss Morvant, another senior majoring in psychology at Texas State, was inspired by her mother—a child counselor—to use her degree in working with children by becoming a speech therapist. Because speech therapy requires a master’s degree, something Morvant is working up to by going into graduate school after college, Morvant is looking for summer jobs related to working with children either in a summer camp or daycare.
While looking online for summer camp jobs, however, Morvant noticed the difference in the number of openings compared to in the summer of 2019.
“There were so many [summer camps] in Texas and in other states. The job searching I am doing now there already seems to be so many less,” Morvant said. “My guess has to be because many parents are staying home to be with their kids rather than take the risk to send them to a summer camp. I am a little worried because it’s looking like there are fewer options for this summer.”
The Career Services Center at Texas State University is open to all students and alumni both virtually and in person