January 28, 2021
Given the change of course that has happened in the world, we wanted to provide expert opinions on what aspiring graduates can do to start off their careers in an uncertain economic climate. We wanted to know what skills will be more important, where the economy is doing relatively well, and if there will be any lasting effects on the job market.
Companies are looking for candidates that can handle the new responsibilities of the job market. Recent graduates actually have an advantage because they are comfortable using newer technologies and have been communicating virtually their whole lives. They can take what they've learned and apply it immediately.
We spoke to professors and experts from several universities and companies to get their opinions on where the job market for recent graduates is heading, as well as how young graduates entering the industry can be adequately prepared. Here are their thoughts.
Dunwoody College of Technology
Paul Strother: We are hopeful that we will not see any long-term impact on our graduates due to the pandemic. That being said, we know that some students have struggled with the added stress of COVID-19, and others with managing online education, leading them to withdraw from school. And we know that students who choose not to finish their degree carry the long-term effects of a disrupted education.
Paul Strother: For students earning their A.A.S. in Architectural Drafting & Design, the skills they are currently learning will be critical to their future success. Not only should students master Revit, but they also need the ability to quickly learn other software. They need an understanding of the principles of construction and building systems, and they need to know the role of the architect and its companion players, such as contractors, consultants and owners. Understanding regulatory elements will also continue to be key skill sets. At the core, when they leave Dunwoody, they must be ready to continue learning new systems, software and regulations, and possess the fundamental skill of good communication. This past year has also taught students to be flexible, and exposed them to new ways of communicating and doing business, which are critical skills as they enter today's workforce.
Paul Strother: Dunwoody focuses on ensuring our students are learning the skills employers need. Because of that, students are ready for a part-time office job even before they graduate. Dunwoody structures the program and its class schedule in a way that allows for part-time positions, and provides students with the right software and a grasp of the building systems they're working with. We know that a recent graduate with the right skills, along with some experience on their resume, will be hired first after graduation.
Kristen DeWolf: The class of 2021 will be in a highly competitive hiring situation. Not only will they have their peers to compete against for jobs, but also those who were laid-off or furloughed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. It will be imperative for the graduates to prove they are the 'right' candidate. At the same time, this class has had to jump into flexibility mode to be successful as classes, club meetings, and even internships went virtual. They have already proven they are quick to adapt to the changing nature of work.
Kristen DeWolf: We are encouraging students to keep their options open. Any position that will add soft and/or hard skills to your resume is a great job to consider after college. Showing the value they provide will only help them as they continue to build their careers.
Kristen DeWolf: This is certainly highly dependent upon the industry the employer is in/type of work being done; however, MSExcel is one of the key skills that I hear over and over again from employers across many industries. Researching the employer/industry and understanding the technologies most used (and learning those programs if you don't already) is a great way for a candidate to stand out. There are plenty of opportunities to learn technical skills on sites such as LinkedIn Learning. When a candidate can show they're paying attention and have learned the skills to hit the ground running, the more valuable they will be as a candidate.