An overwhelming 71% of students are concerned that COVID-19 will hurt their ability to begin their careers after college, a new survey by Real Estate Watch reveals.

While job availability has risen since April, the unemployment rate is still above 11% versus 3.5% in February. Due to closures from the pandemic, students are concerned about the lack of access to resume-building activities like internships (44%), networking events (41%), and relevant job opportunities (38%).

Kristen Herhold, PR editor at Clever Real Estate, a sister website to Real Estate Watch, says students fear that if they only have education on their resume and not relevant job or internship experience, they will not be able to find a job after college.

“On top of that, many networking events have been cancelled when large gatherings were restricted, so students worry they missed out on networking opportunities with potential employers,” she explains.

The findings are a big deal in the business world, she adds, because companies might have to provide more training for entry-level hires than before. Observers say that not only is that potentially an additional expense for companies, but it occurs at a time when finding qualified workers is already among the biggest operating challenges for many U.S. businesses.

Real Estate Watch surveyed 1,000 undergraduate American students enrolled in college courses during the spring/summer 2020 semesters and who have enrolled for the fall 2020 semester. Some 123 of the respondents, or 12.3%, were Black.

The survey also showed students are struggling to keep jobs that sustain them during the school year: A robust one in four students lost their part-time job, and one in five lost their full-time job because of COVID.

Further, students are having trouble finding new jobs to help boost their resume and pay for living expenses. Some 76% of students looking for jobs for the upcoming school year reported difficulty doing so. Students this year are 64% less likely to have a part-time job to help cover expenses, and 48% are worried they won’t be able to find a job during the school year. Those findings were compared to students surveyed in May 2019.

There were about 5.3 million job openings in May 2020, down from over 7.2 million from the same time last year, figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show.

The job openings drop is possibly a result of business-operation regulations related to the coronavirus lockdowns, Real Estate Watch reports. But it’s also possible that the overall downturn in the economy impacts job opportunities beyond the immediate future, and students are acutely aware of that.

As back-to-school resumes, the pandemic has raised health concerns big-time for students.

The survey showed that 86% of students are concerned about their health as a result of going back to school, including 31% who are extremely concerned. But 72% of students want to return to campus for the fall semester, including 39% who want to return–but only if precautions like social distancing and mask mandates are applied.

-Black Enterprise