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When Amie Jean won her election as student body vice president at the University of Texas-Austin last year, the career-driven business school senior saw it as her chance to enjoy campus life for her last few months as a student.
Then campus life went away, shut down by the pandemic. But even more alarming was what disappeared with it: The long list of career prospects she had been lining up with years of hard work, networking and resume building.
The irony hasn't escaped Jean, 22, who graduates from the McCombs School of Business on Saturday in a virtual commencement ceremony for the University of Texas.
But she's trying to maintain a positive outlook about the uncertain future.
"If we all don't know, then at least I'm not alone," she said with a laugh.
Economists mince no words about what college graduates face: The economic crash that followed the shutdown left behind an economy at its weakest since the Great Depression, with a national unemployment rate of 14.7% and a Texas unemployment rate at 12.8%, the state's worst on record, according to U.S. labor statistics released Friday.
"The job prospects are dismal at the moment," said Michael Sadler, senior finance lecturer and economist at McCombs, adding that the few openings are not in entry-level fields. "Many of my students at UT have had job offers revoked or deferred, and those that were going to internships have seen those canceled."
Experts also predict that students graduating in a recession are also likely to make less money in the long term.
"Exactly when you graduate, and the existing economic conditions at the time, has permanent effects on earnings over the lifetime of an individual," Sadler said.
Charlotte Gorman, 26, who is getting her master's degree Saturday from UT's LBJ School of Public Affairs, hopes that working for the government will insulate her from the pay issues and job insecurity.
Charlotte Gorman is graduating from the LBJ School. (Charlotte Gorman)
She snapped up a one-year fellowship in Washington D.C. in March when she realized that job opportunities were drying up. They have told her it will happen, she said, though the start date has been delayed.
"I don't know what things will look like a year from now," she said, "but I will at least have a year of experience under my belt rather than being fresh out of school."
At placement company Express Employment Systems in Austin, owner and recruiter Mark Wagner has heard from more student job seekers since the shutdown. He's also seen fewer companies hiring talent with no job openings—a common corporate strategy to keep good people away from competitors.
It's a practice he said likely won't come back soon, maybe not until a vaccine is found.
The rebound can't come soon enough for Shelby Evans, who gets her master's degree in public affairs on Saturday.
Calls and informational interviews with prospective employers dried up in March, she said. Now, she is watching her sizeable student loan balance gathering interest while she job hunts.
"I am sure things will get back to normal, and it's just a matter of when," Evans said. "But 'when' really matters when you have a bunch of debt."
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The 40-hour workweek has reigned since around the time of the Great Depression. But a new schedule gaining steam could lead some companies to throw out the practice of having employees clock in five days a week.
Promising results are coming out halfway into a six-month trial of four-day workweeks in the U.K. with 35 out of 41 companies responding to a recent survey saying they were “likely” or “very likely” to continue the reduced week after the pilot ends.
The trial, which began in June, is run by nonprofit 4 Day Week Global, think tank Autonomy, the 4 Day Week UK campaign and researchers at Cambridge University, Boston College and Oxford University. It involves 3,300 workers across 72 companies who are trying out one paid day off per week between Monday and Friday.
During the four-day week, 34% of companies reported that productivity “improved slightly” and 15% say it “improved significantly.”
With the survey indicating that a four-day workweek could have some perks for companies and employees alike, will Austin join in on the trend?
On job searching tools like LinkedIn and Indeed, some jobs based in Central Texas are boasting a four-day work week. And Coltech Global, a recruiting firm based in London with a growing presence in Austin, began the four-day work week about a year ago.
Jessica Sutcliffe, a staffing consultant at Coltech, joined the company to help grow the U.S. market. She says due to the time difference between the U.S. team and the UK one, the company implemented a four-day week.
"I’ve found it very beneficial as it allows time to rest and complete life admin, whilst also enjoying life, travel and be able to come back to work rested/fulfilled outside of work, which ultimately helps focus inside of those core work hours," Sutcliffe said via email.
In an Instagram post, Coltech said that not only are employees feeling the benefits of being more refreshed in the mornings, having reduced illness and a less stressed atmosphere, but it’s also improving their carbon footprint since there’s less time spent traveling to the office and using energy.
Niki Jorgensen, director of service operations at human resources service provider Insperity, noted similar factors driving companies to make the change to a reduced work week.
“The most significant benefit for a company to adopt the four-day workweek is the improvement of employee morale,” Jorgensen told Austonia via email. “Over the past two years, numerous studies have shown employees think a four-day workweek reduces stress and burnout. With reduced stress and burnout comes improved employee engagement.”
And while Austin is already drawing in plenty of workers who are in their early careers, a four-day week may help companies stand out to that bracket’s top talent even more.
“Companies can leverage this to make their company more appealing, especially to younger generations who strongly consider factors outside of compensation when choosing employment,” Jorgensen said.
She went on to offer a few tips for making a smooth transition to a four-day week like setting expectations and staggering coverage so that it’s still possible to see clients five days a week. Also, employers should be flexible. She says some employees may not be able to get 40 hours of work done in a shorter week due to responsibilities like childcare, so employers should consider how they can still accomplish their duties.
Before ditching the 40-hour workweek though, it can help to take a temperature check to see if an extra day off is the right fit for the workplace.
“Do not implement a flexible schedule such as the four-day workweek if business owners and managers cannot commit to the level of trust and flexibility needed to ensure the schedule’s success,” Jorgensen said.
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Camp Fimfo Waco, a brand new camping resort, is kicking off football and fall camping season in style! With top-notch amenities, premium accommodations, and 10 weekends of fall fun, there’s no better place to have a fall camping getaway, especially if you’re a Baylor football fan!
Fall promises to be a one-of-a-kind camping experience. From Sept. 16 to Nov. 24, weekends will be packed with fall-themed activities, including special Halloween weekends in October. Campers can enjoy activities like fall crafts, campground trick-or-treating, costume contests, site decorating, outdoor movie nights, and more!
Packages and Ways to Stay
Camp Fimfo Waco
Located just 5 miles from McLane Stadium, Camp Fimfo Waco is the perfect place to stay during home game weekends. Skip the stuffy hotel room and embrace the great outdoors before cheering on the Baylor Bears! Campers can purchase a Baylor Tailgating Package that includes a pre-game meal from Executive Chef Sean Kelley and transportation to and from the game! Chef Kelley will also be cooking up delicious, elevated tailgating meals near the stadium so make sure to check out The Plaid Plate food truck before the game.
Stay in style and comfort, no matter your camping preference! At Camp Fimfo Waco, there are multiple ways to stay. Red Carpet RV sites come with a concrete pad and patio, full hook-ups, cable hook-up, a charcoal grill, fire ring and fire pit. Back-in or pull-thru options are available, as well as coveted spots tucked along the Bosque River!
Don’t have an RV? Not a problem, Camp Fimfo Waco has cabins too! Book a Riverview Firewheel Cabin if you’re looking for an air-conditioned oasis for the whole family. Complete with a kitchen and private bathroom, this cabin can fit up to 10 people. Elevate your stay by adding on a golf cart or snag a private cabana by the pool for guaranteed shade. With wifi available throughout the park, you can stay connected during your stay!
Amenities and Activities
Camp Fimfo Waco
Camp Fimfo Waco features lots of amenities to fill your days with fun, whether you’re a kid or kid at heart. After challenging your friends to a game of pickleball, basketball, or mini golf, go for a dip in the resort-style, heated pool - open daily through October! Stay on the weekends through October to enjoy the interactive splash playground. With plenty of ways to burn off energy, like the jumping pillow or playground, you can be sure to end the day with a peaceful night around the campfire!
Right now, you can get the fourth night FREE when you book three nights with the promo code BONUS! Check out the Offers page for full details and more promo codes!