Badger Class of 2020 prepares for weekend commencement amid international pandemic, worst job market in a decade

Badger Bridge, WAA helping new graduates land jobs

MADISON, Wis. — The UW-Madison Class of 2020 is getting ready to graduate Saturday. This year’s virtual ceremony falls amid an international pandemic and an economic spiral, forcing new Badger alumni into the harsh realities of the working world fast.

This year’s college graduates are entering the worst job market in more than a decade, with lower starting salaries and higher numbers of applicants, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

The Wisconsin Alumni Association says it’s as good a time as ever to “know someone” and leverage a network of 450,000 Badger alumni.

The Badger Bridge program helps graduating seniors connect with alumni from around the world. New graduates, as well as any alumni, can search for Badger connections by city to find jobs, support, and advice.

The Wisconsin Alumni Association is also making it easier for new graduates to connect with a special two-year membership offer, which gives them access to virtual and in-person programs and networking events, both social and professional. New grads should also be on the lookout for a special mailing from the WAA, which will explain ways to stay engaged with the university after graduation.

Chancellor Rebecca Blank says if anyone is ready for the challenge of navigating the current economic landscape, it’s the Class of 2020, which she calls “accomplished, resilient, and adaptable.”

8,500 Badgers will receive their degrees during the 2020 ceremony, which will be released at noon on the webpage This year’s commencement is pre-taped, not live. Anyone is able to watch it: no password required.

It will feature remarks from Chancellor Blank, senior class officers, and keynote speaker James Patterson, the adult fiction author best-known for his Alex Cross and Women’s Murder Club series. Patterson topped JK Rowling and Stephen King to become the best-selling author of the past decade.

The university plans to hold an in-person event to formally celebrate the Class of 2020 when it is safe to gather in large numbers. Commencement is typically held inside Camp Randall for undergrads and the Kohl Center for masters and doctoral graduates.