One big reason these events can be so professionally ruinous for new graduates is that hiring slows or halts. On the jobs site ZipRecruiter, the number of postings for entry-level jobs typically filled by college graduates has fallen 73 percent over the past three months, with the number of openings for internships declining similarly. “While hiring has slowed in every major industry and state since mid-February, the prospects are particularly bleak for new college graduates hoping to start their careers,” Julia Pollak, a labor economist at ZipRecruiter, told me.

On top of that, von Wachter said, “it is larger, higher-wage firms that stop hiring more than small, lower-wage firms.” Relatedly, many of those who do find work take jobs that pay less and don’t draw on skills related to their studies, out of necessity. They may get stuck in jobs like that until economic conditions improve, however long that takes, and then it eats up additional time to job-hop until they find a position that better suits them. Only then, often after years of delays, do they start making the professional progress that for many older or younger graduates commenced right out of college.