By Emmanuel Freeman
NASHVILLE, TN (TSU News Service) — Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the job outlook for college graduates might seem a bit disheartening because of the financial hardship businesses are enduring, but many Tennessee State University students say they are optimistic about their future because of how TSU has prepared them.
Lawrence Tommy Evans graduated in May with a degree in criminal justice. He has completed required background checks and physicals with the FBI and another with the Davidson County Police Academy, where he is seeking employment.
“My chances look good and I am keeping my hopes up,” says Evans, of Belleville, Illinois. “In criminal justice, there is always a process which I am going through, such as the background check. But beyond that, I know I am prepared after going through a very rigorous program during my four years at TSU.”
Like Evans, fellow May graduate Damyr Moore, who earned a degree in mass communications and integrated marketing, says while he has not landed a job, he is making the necessary connections and believes “something will come up soon.”
“With everything going on right now, I am just trying to stay focused and prepared,” says Moore, of Atlanta, who is the outgoing Mister TSU. He is looking for employment in marketing, public relations, web design, or graphic design.
“That’s one thing TSU taught me – how to be prepared for anything in the future,” adds Moore. “I am looking for anything that allows me to be creative in ways that help to further the vision of the company through bringing in fresh ideas.”
Reports show that the Class of 2020 has a particularly difficult time ahead in navigating the tough job market, made more uncertain with the outbreak. The overall unemployment rate was 11 percent in June — that number jumps to 19.8 percent for those age 20-24, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, employment and career experts say adequate preparation is always the best tool to help get a job.
Antoinette Hargrove Duke, the associate director of the Career Development Center at TSU, says in addition to helping students prepare for the job market, such as through interview coaching, internship search, and career assessments, the center uses different platforms to keep students and companies connected.
“We work with many companies and franchisees throughout the year to prepare our students through internships, co-ops, and employment opportunities,” says Duke. “We are committed to our students and will continue to prepare them for working in any corporation.”
In the last year, Duke says the Career Development Center has worked with major local and national entities, such as Lockheed Martin, the Predators, Tennessee Titans, Atlanta Braves, Innophos, Inc., The General, Nashville Soccer Club, Bank of America, and Deloitte, among many others.
Abdul Alsafri, also a May graduate, says the extra nudging from the Career Development Center has been very encouraging and helpful in his job search.
“My classroom work prepared me for the job, but the Career Development Center gave me the tools I need in looking for a job and how to make myself attractive to employers,” says Alsafri, of Saudi Arabia, who earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in management and information systems.
“The center gave me so many resources and links on career building. They gave me hope and I am very grateful.”
On Saturday, August 1, Evans, Moore and Alsafri were among more than 700 spring graduates honored with a 2020 Virtual Commencement.
The University is set to reopen on August 17 under a comprehensive plan that officials say will provide additional COVID-19 safety protocols to protect the health and safety of the campus community.
To learn more about TSU’s campus operation plans for fall reopening, visit www.tnstate.edu/return.