October 21, 2020
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.
University of North Texas
Computer Science and Engineering, Biomedical EngineeringWebsite
Mark Albert Ph.D.: Projects. For resumes, it needs to be beyond a standard course final project. This can include a capstone team effort, a consistent theme among course projects, or engaging with faculty as a part of multi-year research pursuits. Also, we encourage our students to engage in the local community and seek internships to validate further their ability to work as part of a team.
Mark Albert Ph.D.: AI is impacting everything we do, and the Biomedical Engineering program is integrating both human-based decision making and moral, well-validated, artificial intelligence into research and development. We also engage students in the MS in AI program and Data Engineering, both of which have Biomedical Engineering concentrations as part of the course sequence.
Mark Albert Ph.D.: They are now better at working remotely than ever before! It sure did accelerate the transition. Interestingly, our students are now more engaged beyond our academic borders than before, given remote collaboration capabilities.
Slippery Rock University
Department of Information Systems
Abdou Karim Jallow Ph.D.: It is obvious that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted and transformed the lives of many people, including students all over the world. A major effect is requiring students to stay and learn from home because of the closure of educational institutions as a precautionary measure. Missing saying the traditional goodbye to friends, fraternities, and sororities, and having to watch commencement ceremonies in bedrooms online will leave an indelible mark in graduates.
This means a great U-shift in memories of college life, including physical interaction and learning environment, and systems adopting a new way of doing things. Graduates will enter the job market with uncertainties of availability of traditional jobs and how to work in a new normal. Many graduates will find themselves having to search for jobs virtually and having to start working remotely from the beginning in most cases and in most industries. What would have been a new beginning, along with the excitement of stepping through the doors of the new office and career, will not be there physically. This will have an impact on these graduates because of the transformation of society as a result of the pandemic.
Abdou Karim Jallow Ph.D.: Sometimes new graduates from college can find it hard to get the perfect or preferred job location. This may be different for those with information sciences or information systems and related degrees. Luckily there are big companies, multinational companies as well as some-sized enterprises who need skills in that discipline. Most of these can be found in some of the big cities beyond Silicon Valley such as NY, San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Denver, Colorado, Philadelphia, Chicago, DC, Charlotte, Houston, Boston, Dallas, and Minneapolis, just to name a few.
Some of these locations are where some of the big tech companies reside, such as Google, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, IBM, HP, SAP, etc. The advantage of this degree is that graduates not only can work for tech companies but any company because of the need to manage data, information, process, and technology. Companies all over have or are putting together strategies to harness the potential of big data, and graduates with information sciences, information systems, and related degrees are sought after continuously.
Abdou Karim Jallow Ph.D.: The trend we have witnessed in the past two decades in terms of development in technology is unprecedented. This has a ripple effect on the field of information sciences and systems. Most traditional jobs have changed or rebranded. For example, consider how information and data processing and management (IDPM) has revolutionized into what is today information management or management information systems; business intelligence is almost transformed into business analytics, data science; high-performance computing, and grid computing is today predominantly engulfed by cloud computing services.
These are changing how data and information are managed. The decision-making process is changing in various information and knowledge-intensive and process-oriented industries such as healthcare, banking, transportation, engineering, education, security, just to name a few, despite the fact that roles and services still remain. New and emerging disciplines and services are added, driven by the advancement and greater capabilities of technology. Without a doubt, in the next few years, data and information services will be revolutionized by technology hugely. Consider the development in artificial intelligence, data science, blockchain, 5G, and broadband networks, all of which have huge potential to impact the discipline. This means that information sciences and information systems courses must adapt to take into consideration the emerging skills required by the professionals and businesses of the future. The education and training of professionals in this domain have to be continuously changing to prepare graduates adequately.
Department of Mathematics and Computer ScienceWebsite
Dr. Hala ElAarag: I didn’t see any negative impact of coronavirus on our graduates. Our graduates did not have any problem finding internships and jobs during the pandemic. After the pandemic, there will be even more demand and opportunities for our graduates.
Dr. Hala ElAarag: Not really. With the increasing shift of working remotely, the jobs now are not tied to a specific location in the US or anywhere in the world.
Dr. Hala ElAarag: In our field, it might be more appropriate the other way around. I would like to rephrase the question as to how does the computer science field impact technology in the next five years? The answer is tremendous. With fields like quantum computing, artificial intelligence, visual, and augmented reality making great strides, there is no doubt that we will witness a revolution in technology in the next five years.
Saint Peter's University
Department of Computer & Information SciencesWebsite
Edward Moskal: While it’s unclear how the pandemic will play-out, it will, without a doubt, change the landscape on how companies conduct business and the type of college graduates they will be looking to hire. Graduating into a bad economy can affect everything from obtaining that first full-time position to short- and long-term earnings. Recent college graduates and entry-level workers are being hit especially hard, as I see companies rescinding offers for jobs and internships as they navigate their recovery during the recession. As companies have shifted to remote work and phased returns, with furloughs and job eliminations, look for those graduates that can differentiate themselves from others to make the cut.
So internships, apprenticeships, certifications from professional organizations, acquiring skills, and on-the-job-training (above and beyond the related technical instruction acquired while in college), will be of paramount importance to have in your portfolio. However, it’s not all doom and gloom for graduates who are having some challenges landing that first job. Graduate schools could be a prime pivot. While graduate school could result in additional student loans, it could also provide a career pathway by acquiring additional skills and a lever to start building a network of professionals that could provide the conduit to the job market.
Edward Moskal: Top places for graduates to find work opportunities would be in areas surrounding these cities: New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle, Dallas, and Boston. So look at a 50-mile radius surrounding these cities, and those areas would be prime. These cities and their surrounding geographic areas will provide job connections to major financial services, manufacturing, tech, and logistics companies. According to cyberseek.org, just for cybersecurity job openings, New York has 15,000 openings, California has 68,000, Illinois has 18,000, Washington has 10,000, Texas has 47,000, and Massachusetts has 15,000.
Edward Moskal: Technology will have a significant impact over the next five years. While technology associated with the software, databases, blockchain, cloud computing, and cybersecurity will still have an impact, we are likely to see significant changes and advancements in fields such as artificial intelligence, combinations of augmented and mixed reality, and quantum computing. Industry and business will be driving these advancements, in particular, the healthcare industry and large tech companies like Google and Facebook that have already started establishing a strong presence in these fields.
Department of Computer ScienceWebsite
Kathleen Riley: The job market has been good for Computer Science graduates in the last several years, and I expect it to stay good, despite the pandemic. The coronavirus pandemic is changing the job market overall, with some industries cutting back and others increasing hiring, so there has been some redistribution of job opportunities as a result, but I fully expect the demand for our graduates to stay high. One of the changes we see in the industry right now is a growing demand for technology that enables and facilitates remote and touchless interactions; there will be significant demand for people with computer science skills to make that technology successful.
Kathleen Riley: My computer science students from the class of 2020 had a variety of experiences when they entered the job market after graduation. Those who had already signed on at companies like Amazon or Google, whose business stayed strong during the pandemic and whose workplace models adjusted easily to remote work, had a relatively easy time starting their industry jobs. Others, especially those who had planned to work for companies whose business depended on clients or industries which suffered under the pandemic, saw delays, changes in their work plans, and even cancellations of contracts; several found themselves job hunting again over the summer, interviewing remotely and having to assess companies without setting foot outside their own home. Fortunately, there are still a lot of jobs out there for Computer Science graduates, and most of the students I know have found other placements or are well into that process.
We all know about the abundance of computer science opportunities in the Silicon Valley, the Dulles Technology corridor, and other tech hubs, but there is also an abundance of computer science opportunities in large and small cities throughout the country. In addition to businesses whose focus or products are technology-related, many other businesses have significant technology and computer science needs that are provided in-house, and those who thrive and survive will continue to hire.
Kathleen Riley: I expect some of the changes we've seen in the work world as a result of the pandemic to remain part of our lives long after the virus is no longer a threat. In particular, the pandemic has caused a lot of people to think more favorably about remote work, online meetings and conferences, and other video interactions. Not only do I expect to see increased availability of jobs supporting such technology, but I also anticipate that there will be more opportunities for computer scientists to join companies in other parts of the country without having to move to high cost-of-living areas like the Silicon Valley.