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NH News

Checking In With N.H.'s Collegiate Class Of 2020

Sarah Kolk

In early May, the Exchange interviewed three college seniors living in New Hampshire about their commencements, summer plans, and feelings about the future. We recently checked in again to see how they’re doing and how their job searches are coming along. 

Sarah Kolk studied Anthropology modified with Biology as well as Geography at Dartmouth College.

How are you doing Sarah? What’s changed for you since we last spoke? 

I’m doing well. When we last spoke, I was still in school and felt like I was in a period of adjusting, and now I definitely feel like I’m a little more adjusted. I’m happier in terms of accepting what’s going on and what to do with the current situation rather than assuming it will change. 

Have you been continuing to apply for jobs? 

I kind of took a break from searching for jobs because I was doing finals and then had a vacation. I don’t feel stressed for putting it on pause for a few weeks and now am energized to keep working on applying for jobs. I would prefer to have a free summer or a less busy summer if I had a job. Even if I knew I had a job starting in January, then I could do fun things these next few months. I need to balance looking for jobs and also remembering that in this moment, I want to give myself some space to accept that it’s a weird time. 

I need to balance looking for jobs and also ... give myself some space to accept that it's a weird time.

I also have spent so much time thinking about all the other things happening in the country. I know that there’s just a lot to think about in terms of COVID stuff and the racial injustice stuff and the election in November. My brain is in so many different places. It’s operating on so many different scales. It’s kind of a weird time to be isolated. [In terms of the jobs I have applied for,] I’m thinking along the skill set I have rather than the specific area of interest. My major and minor kind of line me up for writing and research type of jobs. I have still been looking at public health things. I think that might be where the most chance of getting a job is right now. I also applied to a conservation grant writing position and a lot of other places. Some places are generously opening positions for the summer for college seniors. Some places are offering internships that weren’t before. 

How did you celebrate your college graduation, since Dartmouth did not have an in-person commencement?

My family and I had breakfast together and made a lot of french toast. We watched the [virtual graduation] ceremony together. We played some lawn games and barbecued, and I had my two closest friends from high school come over for a socially distant dessert picnic in the evening. I’m so glad it was nice out and that I did have a few friends who were around. We’re all just trying to celebrate each other. I thought Dartmouth did a good job, too. It helps knowing they’re planning something for next year. [Dartmouth has invited its Class of 2020 to campus for its 2021 commencement.] I would have been more critical if this [celebration] was it. It celebrated all of us, and it didn’t seem like it was trying to replace the graduation.

How are you feeling about the future right now?

In high school, I was obsessed with getting into a good college and loved being at Dartmouth and was always worried about the future, the future, the future. But now I don’t know at all. I have no idea what’s going to happen between next year’s graduation and now. It doesn’t feel like the end of the world anymore. It just feels strange. 

Grace Bowman studied Integrated Marketing and Communications at Ithaca College. She is from Peterborough. 

Credit Grace Bowman
Grace Bowman with her new puppy Flora.

How are you doing Grace? What’s changed for you since we last spoke? 

Nothing dramatic has changed. I was able to get a bartending job at Hampshire Hills in Milford. I’m serving a little bit, so I’m able to make money now. They’re reopening slowly. But their restaurant is outdoor seating only. I worked there last summer as a food runner, but I was able to come back and work at the bar now. I’ve been doing that for the last four weeks. I definitely plan on working there as long as I can. I really like it there. 

Have you been applying for other jobs as well? 

I’ll still be applying for more communication and marketing focused jobs just for the future. Within the next year, I definitely have some flexibility to figure out where I want to be and what I do. 

Did Ithaca cancel its commencement ceremony? 

Commencement has officially been cancelled. It’s going to be online at the beginning of August. They’re not going to be able to do an in-person graduation anymore. I’m not surprised. 

How are you feeling about where you are right now? 

Living at home is going really well. I’m getting along well with my family, and it’s fun. I got a new puppy, so I’ve been taking care of her. I’m definitely trying to stay positive, and I know nothing’s going to change overnight, so I just have to be patient for something to come along. 

Eddie Barry studied Business Administration at Southern New Hampshire University. 

How are you doing Eddie? What’s changed for you since we last spoke? 

At the time we spoke last, my job had been postponed. I wasn’t sure what my summer was going to look like. Six weeks ago, I contacted one of my old bosses at my local school district, Hudson, where I was a custodian for two years. She said I could do groundskeeping for 20 hours a week. So I started five weeks ago at 20 hours a week and then I was asked to do 40 hours after I’d already started working there. I accepted 32. I wasn’t expecting to be working at all this summer. 

At the time we spoke last, my job had been postponed. ... I wasn't expecting to be working at all this summer.

My other job, which was being a host at a restaurant in Manchester, the owner texted me and asked me if I wanted to work there, too. I told her I didn’t want to. I’m already working more than I thought I was going to anyway. I’m not really looking to make money so much as to have something to do at this point. I didn’t really have that difficult a time finding that type of work. Sure, it’s different than an adult person college degree type job, but I didn’t seem to have any trouble at all finding something.

How does it feel to be back at work?

It’s really strange because I’m outside all day and working with other guys and doing deliveries to other schools, and I kind of forget that there is a whole pandemic in the first place. It is kind of funny. It feels normal, going back to work. 

Credit Eddie Barry
Eddie Barry hiking the Pemi Loop this summer.

Do you still have your job in September? 

I do, hopefully fingers crossed, still have my other job lined up for September. They’ve been communicating with us and treating us very nicely. 

Did SNHU cancel its commencement? 

Commencement is officially cancelled. I did get my diploma in the mail, which is cool. But they didn’t include the case for it and the idea is that next spring — this is all conjecture — they’re talking about combining the two graduation years and then we go and get the case for our diplomas so it looks like we get something onstage. I’m pretty sure that’s what being thrown up in the air at this point. I do think they will eventually have some kind of ceremony. I’m not a super sentimental kind of guy, so I’m not dying over not being able to go to a graduation. It was nice to receive the diploma. I was pretty satisfied with that.