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Rutgers seniors have mixed feelings about future in workforce

Members of the Rutgers Class of 2023 weigh in on the current job market and reflect on their experience at the University. – Photo by

Undergraduates graduating in Spring 2023 reported feeling uncertain about the economy and a potential recession but optimistic about the job market amid a decades-low unemployment rate, according to a study conducted last summer by Handshake.

Rutgers seniors spoke to The Daily Targum about their career prospects and how they were shaped by their time at the University.

Aryanna Arcilla, a School of Engineering senior, said she has been concerned about recent mass layoffs and believes focusing on coursework is the best way to alleviate personal worries regarding career prospects.

After graduation, she said she plans to continue her education in aerospace engineering through an accelerated master's program at Rutgers with research funding from NASA.

"One of the things that I felt very fortunate about is that engineering skills are so needed in today's world," she said.

Arcilla said her experience with the Rutgers Rocket Propulsion Lab helped her apply what she learned in the classroom to real-world projects, and she encourages underclassmen to join student organizations related to their majors.

To that end, Gabe Garcia, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, said he credits extracurricular activities such as the Lloyd C. Gardner Fellowship Program and the Eagleton Undergraduate Associates Program for molding his Rutgers experience.

After graduation, Garcia said he intends to pursue a summer internship in Washington D.C. with funding from the Eagleton Institute of Politics and further explore his interests in government and public policy.

"I always said as a kid that I wanted to help people," he said. "I figured that the best way that I can help people was through government and through politics."

Garcia's time at Rutgers has exposed him to many different perspectives, and he feels nervous about entering the workforce without the diverse community of peers he found in college, he said.

Chantel Amissah, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, said her professional aspirations evolved from going to law school to working with nonprofit organizations to exploring the corporate sector — with the latter career shift originating from concerns about her financial stability.

"I feel like it's harder to get jobs and have competitive salaries in (the humanities) field," she said. "So a lot of what I've been doing is reaching out to different networks, to people who have spoken in our class and just gaining a sense of what's out there."

During her tenure at Rutgers, Amissah said that the Institute for Women's Leadership Scholars Program immersed her in social advocacy and women-centered collaborative work. The program eventually motivated her to create an initiative about schooling barriers for girls in Ghana.

She said she would advise underclassmen to dig deeper into all the academic subjects that intrigue them and leverage their peers to mutually benefit from one another's insights.

Margot Maxwell, a Mason Gross School of the Arts senior, said her advice for underclassmen is not to be afraid to try different activities on campus.

Personally, she joined the University marching band during her last year of college and is ecstatic that she tried something different.

For her future, Maxwell said that housing and relocation remain her biggest concerns while she seeks a full-time job in the film and media industry.

"I could end up in (Los Angeles), or I could end up in New York, and it's hard for me to nail down where I'm going to end up if I don't have a job attached to it," she said.

Khush Patel, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences senior, said her immediate plans after graduation are to travel Europe with family and continue her full-time job search.

She said she is focused on finding employment in the public sector since most individuals with an environmental policy background do not hold corporate positions. Ultimately, Patel hopes to work as an environmental lawyer.

"I feel like there are not a lot of entry-level positions for people looking for jobs like me," she said. "It's been difficult. I think it's very competitive at this moment as well."

Patel said that she is also concerned about losing a sense of social connection once she leaves Rutgers. Her most memorable Rutgers experiences are with the Douglass Residential College community, she said.

Still, Patel said she is eager to tackle life post-Rutgers and have a larger impact on the world.

"The experience of the class of 2023 can be characterized by gaps and holes just because we left during (the pandemic), and then the strike happened, and so much has happened," she said. "I'm just glad we persevered through it."

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