An open letter to students graduating in a pandemic

Aug 18, 2021 0 comments



Dear graduate,


Congratulations because you are among the toughest of the bunch. You survived often interrupted class sessions, schoolwork with classmates you had never met in person, studied through daily news reports of death tolls and infections rising, and most of all, you’re braving a future that only the passage of time can truly reveal. 


And as you finish your degree, you can feel powerless in the face of a hurdle that is beyond your control – an uncertain job market. Did you know that in July, the Philippine Statistics Authority confirmed that the unemployment rate in the country has fallen to 7.7% as of May compared to April’s 8.7% record? Still, this is no cause for overt optimism, taking into account the types of jobs available.


The Asian Development Bank shared their concern on how the pandemic has drastically changed the quality of jobs that Filipinos can enter. Informal lines of work are on the rise, given that various sectors need to curb their expenses. These would include contractual labor and freelancing activities. 


It’s disheartening, isn’t it? It seems as though this contributes to the pile of bandage solutions our country has been deeply scarred with – a fleeting means to provide. The absence of a stable source of income continues to take a toll on millions of Filipinos’ mental health as they push themselves to seek greener pastures. And fresh job hunters, like you, add to the already crowded battlefield.   


Whereas org work or internship experience sufficed for a new graduate to land a seat at an airconditioned office after five interviews a few years ago, it now takes maybe 20 or 50 – check LinkedIn for stories – applications and countless rounds of assessments for one to earn a living. You’re lucky if you get a salary range that matches your expectations. And a step above that is if you receive a call from your first choice. 


But screw first choices or dream jobs or paychecks that can feed a banquet every day. Our frustrating reality leaves us with only two options: to bite what little the system hands us with or wait in hunger. So it’s okay if you’re 21 and you’re not on the way to a glass-enclosed building at the heart of a business district. It’s okay if you’ve ended up typing numbers instead of words. And it’s okay if your path can barely be imagined because the only thing that should be unacceptable to you is giving up. 


The world has never been fair. Maybe your friends are now e-announcing (Get it? No?) that they recently said yes to a position you also applied for. Or that a few of them are just privileged enough to afford to not work. And after the 100th email, you’re not anywhere near the same disposition. 


By all means, take breaks. But when it’s time, fight. For your goals. For your family. For the kind of future that kept you poring over endless chapters in the past decade and a half. Or more. Or to be continued. You are among the toughest of the bunch as proven by the circumstances you were subjected to by a ruthless disease and a thoughtless government. You did it and you can do more. 



Sincerely,

Your batchmate 






━━ Written By Melissa Tan 
━━  Art By Audrey Jaylo


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