To the Class of 2020 from the students who graduated during the Great Recession

Your job search may be more challenging than students who graduated the year before you, but the lemons you are being served now will make you more successful in your career.

College graduation events kick off in May… but thanks to Covid-19 stay home orders, many students will be wearing their cap and gowns alone in their apartment while they stream their convocation ceremony over Zoom. Many of these amazing seniors who had their “first big job” lined up or travel abroad plans are already facing the reality of cancelations.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

Lost earning potential.

Perceived lack of opportunities.

Disappointment.

New graduates from the 2007-2008 recession understand this heartbreak

For the class of 2020, job searching will be more challenging

No one understands this reality more than the students who graduated during the Great Recession in 2007-2009. Just like the Class of 2020, they started college when the economy was thriving and took on student loan debt with big dreams.

Everyone was blind-sighted. Over night, the jobs dried up. Companies were running lean and for many new graduates, getting your foot in the door felt impossible. I know this, because I was a job seeker in 2008 and was underemployed for a few years. I remember feeling like my career was over at the ripe age of 22.

Here’s the thing: It got better. I learned how to network, got tough and up-skilled. And now…. 13+ years later, am thriving in my career.

My story is shared by many of my classmates who graduated in 2007-2009. We created this video to offer the class of 2020 hope.

If you–class of 2020– can learn anything from our journey, please keep in mind that your career is a journey and not a one stop destination. This time may feel hard and it may be disappointing, but we the students from the Great Recession believe in you.

People create their own possibilities. When we were served lemons, we innovated. Consider data from the toughest months of the financial downturn, more than 550,000 new businesses launched in 2009. In fact, according to Forbes, a THIRD of the companies on their most promising list were forged during the recession.

Your generation is special– with technology advances that we didn’t have.

We believe that you can take the lemons that life has thrown at you and make lemonade.

Share your #LemonadeClassof2020 Story

If you feel inspired to share, please post your personal story of lemons to lemonade using the hashtag #LemonadeClassof2020. Our words can inspire and offer hope to the students graduating this May.

Special thanks and acknowledgements

Thank you to Remedy Films and Jamie Graff who believed in this message of hope. This video would not have been possible without his expertise.

Thank you to Lelia KingBethany DeGraffHenry AdeleyeSusan Bjorklund and Jamie Graff for joining me in the video. Our hearts go out to the Class of 2020. We promise to bring meaning to the hashtag #inthistogether by doing our part to support you in this journey.

Sarah Johnston

I’m a former corporate recruiter and industry “insider” who got tired of seeing talented high-achievers get passed over for opportunities because they did not have the right marketing documents or know how to position themselves in interviews. I have relocated multiple times across the country as a “trailing spouse” and have had to execute job searches in completely cold markets (where I literally knew no one!)

I have been named a LinkedIn Top Voice in the career space in 2019, HR Weekly’s Top 100 Most Influential People in HR, named the owner of the “best resume writing firm for experienced executives” by Balance Careers and a “top follow” by JobScan in 2019 and 2020.

I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

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