The scariest part about the term ‘new-normal’ for many students has been its ambiguity in several aspects. Case in point, students pursuing their graduation/post-graduation in contrast to the horrifying situation in the job market.
Yet another day pandemic-stricken day goes by. Although COVID-19 numbers have started to recede in the country as of now, the damage done is permanent. Unfortunately, and unknowingly, these numbers, collated as part of official data, have now got to a stage where these just remain as mere statistics.
The trail of destruction left behind by the invisible enemy is endless. Families have been broken and shattered for generations to come, a large chunk middle class has slipped into poverty, students are pleading to schools and universities for financial bailouts, or worse, have to drop out and may never return to the education fold.
The scariest part about the term ‘new-normal’ for many students has been its ambiguity in several aspects. Case in point, students pursuing their graduation/post-graduation. It’s a matter of time before they officially enter the workforce after spending lakhs of rupees, imbibing the best of knowledge from reputed universities.
Here are some dreadful numbers that have attempted to capture the dire situation in the job market. According to the Centre For Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), a private think-tank, the unemployment rate shot up to a 12-month high at 11.9 percent in May compared to 7.97 percent in April as most states remained under lockdown amid the second wave of COVID-19.
The unemployment rate for June 2020 had come down to 10.18 percent after it touched its peak of 23 percent amid severe lockdown curbs in May 2020. The high unemployment rate for May reflects joblessness across urban and rural areas. Urban and rural areas account for 14.73 percent and 10.63 percent unemployment rates, respectively.
Sleepless Nights, ‘What Ifs’
Does the ‘new-normal’ mean no internships where they would get a sneak peek into their respective fields and polish their skills? Does it mean no jobs after all the hard work they’ve put in so far?
“Heading into my final year, the uncertainty about getting an internship or placement has been at its peak for me. It has caused several sleepless nights for me,” said Sourav Agarwal, a final year engineering student.
Not just final year students. The ‘what-ifs’ of the world ahead linger around students who’ve had to make the transition from grade 12 to degree college, sitting at home.
Rohit (name changed), a first-year mass communication student says “It does bother me a little when I think about it (lack of internships/jobs) sometimes. What if the companies didn’t want to hire the people who got their degrees during lockdown because they thought we all passed by cheating as everyone was at home, what if I couldn’t learn enough skills. What if they stopped hiring people?
Learning key concepts through online classes and if lucky enough, getting to implement them practically was always going to be a challenge. With the virtual world being THE world around us, Aayush Jha, a 2021 graduate in psychology says there has been a significant change in the nature of internships in his field.
“Finding internships in the field of Psychology, was, as it is tough, and after COVID, it became tougher! The nature of internships also changed after the COVID-19 Scenario. People started workshops and classes about basic Psychology and started calling them internships. Direct observerships were no longer possible.” he says.
Fortunately for him, portals like LinkedIn helped him bag worthy internships that focused more on the pragmatic aspects of his course.
Sadly, it isn’t the case for everyone. And especially for courses that are of longer duration and require students to devote a certain number of weeks for internship.
A fourth-year law student, requesting anonymity, said that even a cursory look at a large of internships offered online in his field all end up in blogs, the majority of which are run by students themselves which haven’t yielded the desired result for him.
“In desperation, I applied to one such (student-run) blog, but what I’ve realized is that such internships don’t offer many learning opportunities. These blogs just aim at publishing multiples articles and increase their clout. I personally didn’t find it to be a valuable experience because the blog I interned for also shut down pretty soon. However, I do acknowledge that there are quite a few valuable research opportunities out there and the blame is indeed on me for not making myself capable enough to secure such internships.” the law student says.
For some, the ramifications of not doing internships in the given time frame are strict and harsh. Palak Newatia, a final year student of environment and space design, says that on failing to comply with the internship rules set by her University, she would have to either do a self-initiated project without guidance (which without any work experience whatsoever would be futile) or fail the semester and repeat the year.
In spite of being a ‘topper’, there weren’t any internships for her in Mumbai, forcing her to apply in neighboring cities.
“In normal conditions, I would’ve been the happiest to go apply outstation, but in the current situation, neither my parents nor was I comfortable with this whole idea. I was helpless. I ended up applying to close to 20 companies in Pune and to my luck I got into 1 of them.” she narrates, admitting that the paranoia of traveling and shifting to a different city in such times is still there.
Lack Of Motivation, Mental Health Hampered
Sourav sums up the last year as a “roller-coaster, a ride which I didn’t volunteer to be a part of, but I and many others had no choice.” This ride, needless to say, has changed a lot of people inside out.
“It has made me realize the value of life, and that we should never take anything for granted,” he says.
While some have rightfully taken pride in staying strong in these difficult times, some are still struggling to grapple, especially due to personal problems.
Rohit strongly agrees that the last year has changed him. “Things are terrible and I have lost most of my conversation and social skills. I thought I could use this time to work on myself and it did go well in the first six months of the pandemic. But then things went downhill and now I have no idea about anything.” he concludes.
The law student admits to a lack of motivation to do anything. “Today I lack any motivation to put an effort to study for college, participate in extracurricular activities or do an internship. Every morning I wake up hoping to be productive…”
While talking to these students, what’s palpable is – hope. A hope to be more productive tomorrow. A hope that maybe tomorrow will be the day, as the student signs off.
As an independent media platform, we do not take advertisements from governments and corporate houses. It is you, our readers, who have supported us on our journey to do honest and unbiased journalism. Please contribute, so that we can continue to do the same in future.