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Sam Island for Money

Vanessa Rivera has dreamt of working as an elementary school teacher for years.

When the 25-year-old graduated from California State University Los Angeles this spring with a shiny new degree in child development, she expected to do precisely that. Then COVID-19 threw her a curveball.

Rivera needs to log hundreds of “classroom experience” hours before she can get her teaching certification, which is going to be pretty difficult this fall, since schools in Los Angeles County aren’t planning to fully reopen anytime soon.

At first, Rivera thought she could still get a job as a teacher’s assistant, or maybe tutor at an after-school program, but she’s only found a few openings so far. She got furloughed from a retail gig at the start of the pandemic, so she’s now relying on unemployment benefits to make ends meet.

Rivera lives with her father and grandmother, who are at high risk for a severe infection if they catch the coronavirus, she says. So when she finally starts interviewing for jobs—whenever that may be—she’ll have to carefully consider every offer.