A bittersweet time for graduates in the time of COVID-19

May 21, 2020

by Margo Ellis, associate editor

Himesh Patel is a second-year master’s student in Metallurgical Engineering at Mackay School of Earth Science & Engineering, University of Nevada, Reno. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Mineral Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology (Indian School of Mines) Dhanbad, India. Himesh has spent a semester at the Universidad Politecnica de Madrid, Spain as an Erasmus student. Previously he has worked with Freeport-McMoRan (Phoenix, AZ), India Power (Kolkata, IND), and National Mineral Development Corporation (Hyderabad, IND). He is actively looking for a full-time position in the mineral processing and metallurgical engineering sector.

Pre-pandemic, did you have any job leads or possibilities?
Absolutely! I had a summer internship offer with one of the leading mining companies and more than three leads for a full-time position. These leads were in advanced stages, the interviews were over and final offers were forthcoming.

Expand on the contrast between pre- and the post-COVID-19 world in terms of your job prospects and how you felt about graduating?
As I mentioned above, during pre-COVID-19 time everything was normal in terms of job search, job interviews and I was waiting for a job offer letter(s). Everything changed in 3-4 weeks and all those opportunities were either withdrawn or impeded.

Being a first-generation college student, this has been a proud journey for me and my family. For foreign students like me, graduation is a perfect time when family can visit and share these once-in-a-lifetime moments. On behalf of the class of 2020, receiving awards or a degree online does not adequately represent all the hard work students have put into accomplishing their goals.

What are you most concerned about?
I am most concerned about the health, safety and well-being of not only me, but also my friends and family. However, because of my optimistic nature, strong work ethic and trust in my professional network, I am positive that I will find a place where I can have a learning opportunity and a great career.

These are definitely unprecedented times. Because of the situation, many companies have removed their job postings and/or are delaying their recruitment. In this time, it will be a difficult choice for anyone to travel for a site interview in other states.

Do you know others in a situation similar to yours?
Yes, it is disheartening to say that I know at least 20 of my friends and colleagues who face a similar situation. Many full-time offers were revoked and summer internships were canceled. Most of us had more than one offer for the summer or a full-time position pre-COVID-19.

Is your status as a foreign national impacted?
Being a foreign national, we have to plan many things ahead of time. So far, there has been no adverse effect on my visa status, but because of the COVID-19 situation, without a job offer, it will be difficult to maintain this status.

Have you considered staying in school?
So far, I have not considered staying in school for further studies.

What are your short- and long-term plans?
I consider myself a lifelong learner and, after school, I will keep learning new skills. In the near future, while securing a job, I would like to obtain a professional license in mining and mineral processing and apply my skills in practice.

In the long term, I would like to gain the necessary abilities to help build advanced processing plants and run them more efficiently. I also intend to aid my schools and society in any way I can, travel around the world and contribute more in the Young Leaders and SME at large.