Recent UConn graduates reflect on academic, career prospects

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Students are facing an unprecedented time to graduate college and enter the workforce. The Wilbur Cross building contains the registrar’s office and many other in person academic resources. Colin McNeil, a computer science major who graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2019, and Chelsea Garcia, a nutritional sciences major who graduated in 2020, spoke about their future plans and the effects of COVID-19. Photo courtesy of Erin Knapp / The Daily Campus.

Colin McNeil, a computer science major who graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2019, and Chelsea Garcia, a nutritional sciences major who graduated in 2020, spoke about their future plans and the effects of COVID-19. 

McNeil said he is in a fortunate position where COVID-19 has not seriously affected his career plans. While he is grateful for the opportunities he has, he recognizes they are not what has been typically available to graduates. 

“I have had good luck with my career, but [I] understand that a ton of people are having it rough,” McNeil said. “For us in tech, COVID has actually helped somewhat. I definitely know that this is a blessing and not the normal.” 

McNeil said his current job at HubSpot, a developer of software products for inbound sales and customer service, is one he hopes to keep for the foreseeable future. Prior to his current position, he said he had worked at UConn’s Information Technology Services office. 

“I recently switched companies from UConn ITS to HubSpot and plan to stay here long-term,” McNeil said. “We just had an awesome earnings call and the future looks bright!” 

Garcia recognized the troubles others may have finding work right now, but she is not searching for jobs right now because she has just begun her Ph.D. work. Despite this, she said she would be worried about the job market if she was currently looking for work.

“However, I do feel as a result of the pandemic I will not be as ready or prepared for a job position after I graduate. I feel as though we are losing important social and communication skills due to most things being online/remote.” 

Chelsea Garcia, UConn 2020, Nutritional Sciences major

“Although there is a pandemic, I know a lot of people who have been starting new jobs,” Garcia said. “Luckily, that is not something to worry about for a while as I just started a Ph.D. program. However, I do feel if I had to find a job now that I would be worried.” 

Garcia said she is grateful for her acceptance to a Ph.D. program she received before COVID-19’s effects took hold, but she is not without worry. In particular, she worries about the interpersonal skills people have lost because of the transfer to an online, distanced format. 

“Fortunately for me, I had accepted my Ph.D. program position before COVID, so I was relieved that I wouldn’t have to worry,” Garcia said. “However, I do feel as a result of the pandemic I will not be as ready or prepared for a job position after I graduate. I feel as though we are losing important social and communication skills due to most things being online/remote.” 

Looking to the future, Garcia said she hopes to improve the health of others with her research. Additionally, she hopes to increase minority representation in STEM. 

“I am in my first year of my Ph.D. so I plan to finish the program and then find a job where I can still conduct research or use my research expertise to help improve the health of others,” Garcia said. “In addition, I hope to use my position to try and increase minority representation in STEM.” 

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