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North Texas Graduates Navigate Next Chapter Amid Pandemic Job Market

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) - Graduation season is upon us, which means thousand to college graduates across North Texas will be walking across the stage to get their degrees this month.

The class of 2021 has lived their entire senior year in a pandemic.

"It's been tough, but I think we did the best we could and have made the most out of it," said senior Texas Christian University student Michael Rapagnani.

They persevered, while the grads of last year were patient.

Friday at TCU, the class of 2020 walked, just a day before the class of 2021.

"It felt like it really just ended without a final chapter. So getting to have this final chapter is really nice," said 2020 TCU graduate Alexis Hodge.

It's an unusual occurrence. But despite it all, TCU was able to stay open the entire school year.

"We never shut down, we kept going. We kept our classes live in person or hybrid. What this means is that students now or more agile," said assistant professor Brandon Chicotsky.

Students are preparing to mark off into the workplace, as best as they can.

Brady Winkler is a 2021 TCU graduate who has struggled to start his career.

"It's been a season of a lot of applications. Probably somewhere around 50," he said.

Hiring expert Chris Lester says the job market is still working to get back to its pre-COVID state.

"Everybody is having to lower their expectations," he said.

Though, employers are projected to hire 7.2% more graduate this year then last year. That's according to a recent report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

"The job market is a little more competitive than it was pre-COVID," said Catherine Schmoker, a 2021 SMU graduate.

Regardless, these seniors say they have a lot to be grateful for.

"I feel like this pandemic has made people a lot more grateful in general just for those little moments that you get with your friends and family," Schmoker said.

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