CHICAGO (CBS) — It’s the bleakest economy in a generation. And one out of four adults between the ages of 20 and 24 are unemployed, according to the Federal Reserve Bank.

That means job prospects are very poor for new college graduates. But CBS 2’s Jim Williams talked to an employment expert who has some advice for young people.

From the time Ally Manzella was an early teen, she’s loved photography and the chance to build relationships through her art.

“Meeting with people, connecting with people, portraying such a strong emotion through still photography,” Manzella said.

She majored in photography at Columbia College, and even before her graduation last Saturday, she landed a coveted paid internship at a public relations firm — and the certainty of a full time job there.

“I was beyond excited. It was a great opportunity. The people were amazing and I absolutely love it. I felt like I was all set,” she said.

Then the pandemic hit. And in what Ally calls an emotional conversation, the company’s CEO broke the bad news:

“Because of COVID-19 and because of the type of business we do, it would be hard to move forward.”

Ally was out of a job. And she’s still unemployed. How things have changed for new college graduates. From in-person graduations to Zoom ceremonies. From a healthy jobs market to a national unemployment rate of nearly 15%.

Young people like ally are among the hardest hit.

“I don’t want to sugar coat it: New graduates are coming into a very difficult job market,” said Andrew Challenger of Challenger, Gray and Christmas.

But Challenger of the Chicago-based outplacement firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas offers this advice to new grads: Reach out to employers now. Network and establish connections.

“We’re finding people are being really generous with their time while they’re in quarantine. They want to find ways to help new people in their careers. That’s a great way to build referrals for the future when those positions do open.”

Preparing for better days during a grim time for new graduates.

“It’s very sad. Every day I hear a loss from someone else. It’s just heartbreaking.”

Ally did get some good news Wednesday morning. After struggling to get unemployment benefits after losing her job in March, she got a call from the state that they money finally would be coming through.