SAN ANTONIO -- Many college graduates are hoping to begin their professional careers sooner rather than later, but COVID-19 has changed the future outlook for many graduating seniors. 

What You Need To Know

  • Grads having tough time finding jobs

  • More than 21 million jobs lost in 3 months

  • One grad is questioning her future

During the 2008 economic recession, nearly nine million jobs were lost over a five-year period according to the Brookings Institution. However, in last three months more than 21 million jobs in America have been lost due to COVID-19. Finding a stable job is now the greatest challenge yet for the class of 2020 graduates.  

"Just starting off as first generation in college, I didn't really know what I was doing," said Bria Casteel, a 2020 graduate of the University of Texas at San Antonio. "I didn't know how to make friends. I need a job because I'm by myself now, and it was just so much I had to do."

Casteel has grown and learned a lot throughout the past four years at the UTSA. The new college graduate focused her time outside of lectures towards building a resume that exemplifies leadership and communication skills. 

Since freshman year, Casteel has focused on broadening her area of expertise. From becoming a resident assistant to joining countless organizations for leadership positions, her goal was to graduate as a well-rounded student.

"I had to get involved because I know that the jobs that I'm going to probably apply to- they're going to want people with leadership experience," said Casteel.​

Despite the work she's put in to make it to this point, Casteel has now hit an unexpected roadblock thanks to a global pandemic that's put U.S. job market in limbo. 

"It's just it's open in the air for me," said Casteel. "I know it's harder to find those jobs because of what's going on right now, so it really had me re-evaluate what am I doing with myself because is what I'm doing in this world even considered essential? Is it considered to be important during a time like this?"

​The communications major has aspirations to become the face of a company, working in a public relations role. Now Casteel is left contemplating if she should pursue her master's degree after spending months searching to upstart her career, and having no luck.  

"I'm at the point where there's a pandemic, I have to have some type of income especially recently just graduating," said Casteel.

Casteel is now back home in Houston, where her family is celebrating her accomplishments as they all continue to navigate this new reality.

"I was a little bit crushed because I was like, 'Wow, I've put in so much work for four years and I just wanted to walk across the stage.' That's all I wanted to do," said Casteel. "Now that I can't do that I kind of just have to be more open minded about what I'm doing with myself, what comes next."