Student Employment during COVID-19

NYU Abu Dhabi seniors seeking employment during this pandemic must commit to making several post-graduation back-up plans as the global economy goes through what is likely to be the worst recession since the Great Depression.  

The Career Development Center at NYUAD is counselling seniors graduating this year to stay vigilant and consider options as global unemployment rates rise from what the IMF is calling the “Great Lockdown”. The CDC says the future remains bright for these exceptional students, but the situation requires a patient and persistent approach. 

“The world has changed dramatically in a month. The job market has changed dramatically in a month. The questions people are asking now, they'd never even thought of six weeks ago. So, I think we're in the unique position of adjusting ourselves, but also helping all the students,” said Dana Downey, Assistant Dean of Students and Director of the CDC.

Their goal is to work with students through one-on-one sessions, virtual events and mentorship to help their employment prospects at a challenging time for working individuals.

The CDC is consulting businesses in the UAE and abroad on the viability of employing fresh graduates by demonstrating their ability to adapt and work remotely at a high rate. Some industries are responding well to the idea of hiring and employing remotely as a temporary measure, says Downey. But other companies have frozen hiring all together.  

Another option encouraged by the CDC is for students to consider graduate school while riding out the economic repercussions caused by COVID-19. Graduate schools admissions rose during the 2009 recession, allowing for fresh undergraduates to utilize what would have been time lost struggling to find jobs they were overqualified for.

Most importantly the CDC urges students to remain flexible in these unprecedented times.

“Make back-up plans, make plans A, B, C, D and E. Even if you feel like you have a secure option, have a back-up just in case,” said Downey.

She adds that the Center is adjusting to support students virtually but they are still unable to reach everyone. The students experiencing the most anxiety with their prospects, those who are most in need, are often the ones least likely to seek help.

To remedy this the CDC has redesigned some of their consultation procedures to offer quick virtual drop in sessions for students searching for help. Furthermore, they are checking in with every single senior to make sure that they are coping well under uncertainty.

For those who feel uncomfortable asking for help, the Center has created an anonymous FAQ forum to help answer some questions.


Make back-up plans, make plans A, B, C, D and E. Even if you feel like you have a secure option, have a back-up just in case

Dana Downey, Assistant Dean of Students and Director of the CDC

Additionally, the CDC is scheduling live sessions with employed alumni to give students a better idea of working conditions during COVID-19 and to allow them to take notes of how their predecessors found employment in some of the world’s biggest and most progressive companies.  

Downey concludes, “These times demand creativity and flexibility about options. Students and graduates are impacted differently by the economic and mobility challenges surrounding COVID-19, and we seek to support them individually and collectively as they navigate the months ahead.”