How does the job market look for the Class of 2021 ? The answer: much better, says IU expert

How does the job market look for the Class of 2021 ? The answer: much better, says IU expert

May 7, 20213 min read

As the class of 2021 graduates this weekend to embark on new challenges and careers, Rebecca Cook, executive director of undergraduate career services at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business, reflects on the current job market and offers insights into what summer internships may be like for current students.

“The summer of 2020 was a mess for student internships and full-time roles, with pretty much all either going virtual or, in the case of many internships, being cancelled altogether as companies tried to figure out business during the pandemic. Luckily, the job outlook for both full-time roles and internships in May 2021 looks a lot different – and a lot better.

“The job market is hopping right now with a significant number of internship and full-time opportunities, as companies open up and business grows. Industries such as professional services, technology, health care, manufacturing and financial services are all seeing significant upticks in job postings. Even companies hard-hit by the pandemic, such as retail and hospitality, are picking up their hiring.

“While hiring is back to pre-pandemic levels in many industries, the level of competition for those roles has increased significantly. In a normal year, the majority of job seekers are that year’s graduates. However, this year we have 2021 grads plus some 2020 grads who still are seeking plus those who went to graduate school to put off job hunting during the pandemic and are now graduating. This all leads to a much more competitive job market and one where a student needs to work to stand out from the crowd, particularly through networking and reaching out to potential connections at their companies of interest.

“We recommend that students spend a lot more time networking than they may have in the past, creating a focused list of companies they are interested in and then spending the time to connect and speak with employees at those companies. Leverage any ‘warm’ connections possible, such as friends, family members, fellow Kelley alumni, faculty and staff recommendations.

“An important point to remember is that roughly 75 percent of jobs are never advertised publicly, so the only way to find out about them is through networking.

Many new jobs, as well as internships, may start out virtual

“It’s important to note that many roles that students are entering will still be virtual, at least for the time being, as companies are very mixed as to if they are back in the office already, not returning to the office until early fall, or staying remote entirely. Internships in particular are likely going to be virtual, while full-time jobs are looking to be mixed, with many starting out virtual but then likely moving in-person when offices open up. While being virtual once again is probably disappointing, students should remember that they can be just as successful with a virtual full-time role or internship as an in-person one.

“The key is staying connected with their supervisor and co-workers on a regular basis. They should also network with as many people in their full-time or internship company as possible, taking the initiative to set up Zoom (or whatever video conferencing tool that the company uses) meetings regularly in order to learn as much about the company and role as possible, as well as to build their network for future opportunities.

“Overall, there are a lot of available opportunities out there for students – they just need to put in the time to network and get their name and brand known.”

To schedule an interview with Cook, contact George Vlahakis at

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