Planning students and soon-to-be graduates are experiencing some unique struggles during this public health crisis. To combat the spread of COVID-19, the University System of Georgia (USG) closed all campuses through the summer, and students are finishing their semesters remotely. Students and faculty continue to work together to ensure quality online instruction, but planning students are missing important opportunities to problem solve and learn together. Additionally, campus closures make it more difficult for students to secure funding and tuition assistance for the upcoming school year, placing significant financial strain on an already financially precarious population.
Planning students are not immune to the layoffs, furloughs, and hiring freezes occurring across the nation. Continuing planning students rely on summer internships to gain important work experience and fund their education but many non-profits, government agencies, and private firms have cancelled their summer internship programs or significantly limited the amount students can work. These changes will limit the real-world learning that is critical to emerging planners as they enter the workforce.
Graduating students are facing significant struggles in networking and obtaining interviews. Of note, some students have experienced interviewers forgetting about and not showing up for virtual interviews. Also, many job postings have not been updated to reflect this new reality making it difficult for students to determine which organizations are still hiring. While graduating students understand the financial and emotional strain currently on government agencies and firms they hope to continue connecting with established planners and potential job prospects to lend their skills and expertise to recovery efforts.
While we all struggle during these tumultuous times, planning students continue towards their degrees and look forward to joining the ranks of those working with communities to survive and recover from this crisis. If there are any organizations in need of staff or assistance with special projects, there are many continuing and graduating students that will be available starting in May and recruiting information is available here.
We hope GPA members continue to be a source of support for our community and that we work together to facilitate important connections between students, young professionals, and established planners.