A lost generation? A study of long-term influence of the COVID-19 pandemic on business students and their career networks

What impact did the pandemic have on business students' social networks, and how will it impact their career possibilities?

Research has previously shown that the first few months of study for business students are crucial, as the networks formed then have been shown to stay remarkably stable over time. This is important since expansive networks are associated with typical early career success metrics such as salary, job title, choice of industry and time lapsed before the first job.

The COVID-19 pandemic impacted all aspects of society, higher education being no exception. University teaching sifted to online formats in the spring of 2020, and has since continued to be carried out largely online or in hybrid forms. Combined with restricted campus access and severely limited social activities, the normal process by which new students are socialized into academic social life has been severely pinioned.

This project will follow three cohorts from four high-ranked business schools, as they graduate from their bachelor programs and venture into working life. We will trace influence of the pandemic on these students' careers by dint of a) network surveys, b) interviews, and c) integrated items in the various schools' alumni surveys.

Our three research questions:

  1. Do the social networks of students starting their studies before and during the pandemic differ, and if so, how?
  2. Are there observable differences in early career success between students starting their studies before and during the pandemic, and if so, which ones?
  3. Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected various categories of business students' network differently, and if so, how?




Principal Investigator

Anna Tyllström PhD, Business Studies

Project members

Sofiya Voytiv PhD, Sociology

Other project members


Jan Wallanders och Tom Hedelius Stiftelse/Tore Browaldhs Stiftelse