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Kari Groszewska, a senior at Vanderbilt University studying computer science and economics, says she attended the conference and arrived at the expo hall 15 minutes early one day, only to see that a line to speak with companies was already several hours long. The vibe, Groszewska says, had shifted from the year before. She felt discouraged—particularly because she does not yet have a job offer for when she graduates next year.

“I have done ‘everything right’ studying computer science,” she says, including following advice to work on personal projects, pursue internships, and join clubs. Groszewska says she is “disheartened” by the state of the job market she will soon enter.

Other unemployed people are already feeling the pressure. Nia McSwain has been looking to make a transition into tech from the hospitality industry for the past month, with hopes of becoming a project manager. She says she spends her days sending out job applications from morning to night and estimates that she has applied for about 40 roles each day. “It’s been a little rough,” says McSwain, who lives in Florida. “I’m trying to break into it.”

Full stack engineer Philip John Basile finished a contract in May and has been looking to land another one since August. In the past month, he estimates he’s had about three interviews a day and gotten close to a role in a few companies, but he hasn’t been picked yet.

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Basile, who lives in the suburbs of New York City, says he has focused on networking by chatting with people on LinkedIn and Discord. Many of the recruiters he knew from previous positions are also out of a job, and he’s had to build new relationships.

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Basile says he’s also spent his free time studying AI tools, and he keeps tweaking his resume, cutting it from 10 pages to two, then beefing it up to 24. “There’s a lot of jobs out there, but there’s a lot of people looking for work,” he says. So he wants to “try to be as unique as possible. If you’re competing with 1,000 other people, you have to try to stand out.”

The layoffs have been particularly stressful for foreign workers in the US, who have been left scrambling for sponsorship to stay in the country after losing jobs. But data shows that many were able to find new jobs after being laid off.

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