Since the beginning of the pandemic, some seniors and recent graduates have struggled to find jobs. A spike in unemployment and the shift to remote work has made the past two years less than ideal for starting a professional career.
But that hasn’t stopped some Miami University alumnae.
Whether in publishing, healthcare or higher education, Miami’s recent graduates are full of success stories.
Sarah Pohlman-Beshuk, Macmillan Publishers
Sarah Pohlman-Beshuk never imagined she would have a coworker that paws for attention during her morning meetings, but Rosie, the orange tabby cat, takes every opportunity to get love from her owner, even during business hours.
OK, so Rosie doesn’t actually have a job (besides being cute).
Pohlman-Beshuk, a 2021 strategic communication and linguistics graduate, on the other hand, works as a Human Resources (HR) assistant at Macmillan Publishers.
Back in December 2020, a year before she graduated, Pohlman-Beshuk applied for an internship at Macmillan, a company she knew would supplement her love of reading. She officially got the HR intern position in January 2021. She worked there through her final year at Miami, and in November she was offered a full-time HR position.
Like many students, Pohlman-Beshuk wanted to take a break to relax after a hectic college career, but she worried how the company would react to her request.
Luckily, Macmillan allowed her to push her start date by a couple months, and she became an official, full-time employee in January 2022.
During her break, Pohlman-Beshuk worked on her Harry Potter tapestry, rang in the new year with COVID-19, hung out with friends and chilled with Rosie. Her favorite part about post-grad life is that even though she now works full-time, she still has time to do all of those activities.
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“It’s so nice not having to go do a whole day of work and then go home and do more work,” Pohlman-Beshuk said. “That is the number one thing I hated about school … I never could truly relax when I got home. So I love not having those homework commitments anymore.”
The HR assistant position requires a lot of clerical work — filling out forms, emailing staff members, organizing tax forms — but Pohlman-Beshuk said it fits her well.
“It's not the job for everyone, I will say that, but for someone like me it's the perfect job,” she said.
In the future, she hopes to move up to HR Associate to work more closely with interns.
Pohlman-Beshuk and a friend plan to move to Columbus, which means she still won’t be in the NYC Macmillan office, but Pohlman-Beshuk said the advantages of remote working are plentiful.
“Having a remote job is literally so convenient. Literally so convenient. Like, I just got up, I just made a smoothie, and I sat down and I got dressed, and I can see Rosie, verify she's all good during the day … and the company itself, I love the company, [but] I cannot feasibly move to New York. It's not in the cards for me.”
Because she graduated while COVID-19 was still raging, Pohlman-Beshuk said she is glad she got an internship when she did, and that the internship turned into a full job.
“Some of my best friends right now are spending their free time looking at job boards and writing cover letters and tweaking their resume and I skipped all of that, and I’m so eternally grateful,” she said.
Angela Sargent, American Healthcare Association
Unlike Pohlman-Beshuk, Angela Sargent graduated well before the pandemic.
Sargent, a 2018 graduate, has degrees in Black world studies and political science and currently works in Washington D.C. at the American Healthcare Association. On a typical day, she plans events, writes memos and works on presentations.
As a sophomore at Miami, Sargent participated in the Inside Washington program, then interned for Congress members. Both experiences confirmed D.C. was where she wanted to be.
“I definitely love the fast pace,” Sargent said. “It's one of those things where you either love or hate — I happen to love it, so I knew I wanted to come back to D.C.”
Though she didn’t have to job-search during the pandemic, Sargent’s job did transition to a remote work environment. She’s gotten used to it over the past two years, but there was a learning curve at first.
“Being in the office to going full-time at home was definitely a transition for me because a lot of people my age, we're kind of getting in the groove of our careers and this is my first job,” Sargent said. “So making sure that I was on top of things … because I knew if I didn't do my part that it wouldn't have been a good outcome for the people that I work for.”
Working from home has allowed Sargent more time with her roommate and sister Amanda Sargent.
Amanda Sargent, Delta Sigma Theta
Amanda, who graduated from Miami in 2019 with a psychology degree and a minor in Latin American studies, currently works for her undergraduate sorority, Delta Sigma Theta. Both Sargents took breaks before starting their jobs, Angela in January 2019 and Amanda in September 2019.
Recently, Angela attended an alumni panel for the Global and Intercultural Studies career day where she spoke on how her major at Miami has helped her in the workforce. Amanda echoed her sister’s words on how Miami has helped her in post-grad life.
“To just be able to pull other people up, I'm really big on that,” Amanda said. “Not just sitting where I am and not being able to help other people achieve what they want to achieve. I definitely think Miami had a big impact on being able to help me to be who I am today.”
Megan Zahneis, The Chronicle of Higher Education
An “18 of the Last 9” recipient and journalism and interactive media studies alumna Megan Zahneis graduated in 2019 as well.
Zahneis currently works at the Chronicle of Higher Education as a staff reporter. Her path from graduation to full-time working was much like Pohlman-Beshuk’s.
The summer before her senior year, Zahneis interned at The Chronicle. After graduating in May 2019, she was hired for a one-year fellowship in the same newsroom, which was extended until October 2020 and eventually turned into a permanent position.
Zahneis said that although it can be hard to follow, the “it’ll all work out” adage rang true in her life.
“I’m obviously very lucky,” Zahneis said. “I think a lot of people struggle with what's going to happen after graduation and for me, things sort of fell into place, and it was at the same place where I had an internship. I already knew everyone, and it just really worked out.”
Not everything stayed according to plan for the journalist, though. COVID-19 uprooted Zahneis’s life, moving her from her new home in Washington D.C. to her childhood room in Cincinnati.
“It's not how I would have envisioned starting my career, and it has certainly not been ideal in a lot of ways, but I'm lucky that The Chronicle is all still virtual, so nobody’s in the office full time and I've had the flexibility to continue to do my job and advance in my job and learn from a distance,” Zahneis said.
Despite going on two years working from her parent’s home, Zahneis hopes to return to D.C. one day.
“The Chronicle is a place that I really care about and have been lucky enough to grow a lot there,” Zahneis said. “So I would love it if I could stay there long-term and live in D.C. and have a career there.”
Alumni advice for future grads
Zahneis gave her advice to Miami students getting ready to graduate.
“Trust in things working out,” Zahneis said. “But on the flip side of that, I would also say you need to set yourself up in the best way possible to make sure that [things can work out].”
Pohlman-Beshuk offered her advice from an HR perspective to students seriously looking for a job.
“I don't think people realize that now almost the entire job market is who you know, which sucks, and I will readily admit it sucks,” Pohlman-Beshuk said. “And I feel like the whole thing is a game you have to learn how to play, but that's the thing — you have to learn how to navigate all of it.”
Angela recommended maintaining a work-life balance, and added that students looking for opportunities should never settle.
“Don't settle, because what you want is out there and you don't have to compromise your dream or anything like that, especially when you put all that hard work into what you did in undergrad,” Angela said.
And finally, Amanda encouraged all students, young or old, to savor their time at Miami.
“Enjoy your years at Miami, because it goes quick,” Angela said. “I probably should have realized because high school went quick, but it was different, right? When you get to college, it’s just four years that are just in the blink of an eye.”