April 15, 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.
Kansas State University
Undergraduate Program in Hospitality ManagementWebsite
Brett Horton Ph.D.: - The enduring impact is the opportunity to experience first hand coming out of a major hospitality economic downturn. Many hotels and hospitality operations are rebounding from near or complete closure. Such an amazing time to get in on the fast track to the top of an organization. There will be numerous opportunities that did not exist in March of 2020.
- Graduates are positioned to thrive more than the graduates in 2020 in that the number of open positions is huge. They have the opportunity to start with a career with great companies and great leaders and grow as fast as they so desire.
- The only downside may be moving up too fast and now being completely grounded in the basics due to being hired and put in positions of authority before they may be fully prepared.
Brett Horton Ph.D.: The successful leaders are those who:
- Have a degree in hospitality management and understand what just occurred.
-There are few certifications necessary for work in the hospitality. Food safety is required for some positions, but this has likely been obtained while in school. Additional certifications may be obtained in the first 5 years of employment.
Brett Horton Ph.D.: - Willingness to take on increased responsibility
- Willingness to move locations
- Willingness to work in different departments to learn and grow with the organization
Jennifer Tockman: Flexibility, ability to adapt to whatever style work style, and the environment we are using given the world around us, working as a team (even if remote), can be a self-learner, especially in a private fashion. Excellent communication skills are also essential for success.
Jennifer Tockman: I believe it'll take this industry (as most industries) to a technology level we have not imagined. The successful candidates will be able to adapt to these changes quickly. Candidates will have to be willing to quickly learn new platforms, technologies, etc. as they roll out - otherwise, I feel they may be left behind.
Lisa Noble: To be immediately valuable to employers, new graduates need to write well, think critically, draw reasonable conclusions from data and learn new things quickly -- this has always been true; if they can present well, so much the better! Happily, liberal arts students of all majors have these skills in abundance. That said, humanities majors have a decided advantage when it comes to written expression because they read and write so much as part of their course of study. English majors hone their craft as writers with focused guidance from their professors.
That said, with the digital transformation of virtually every industry, graduates who majored in the humanities will need to learn to use tools to create compelling digital content (Adobe Creative Suite, WordPress, HTML, Canva) and to measure and analyze its impact, whether it's an email or social media campaign, ads, websites, landing pages, or webinars (SEO, HubSpot or Pardot, Google Analytics, and more).
Regardless of what they pursue after they graduate, they will need, at a minimum, to be facile with Excel, PowerPoint (the language of business), collaboration tools like Monday.com, Asana, and SmartSheet and communication tools that facilitate remote work like Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Slack.
Lisa Noble: With remote work likely to remain a primary way of doing business, and a fraction of the workforce returning to the office, it's expected that geography won't matter as much for new graduates as it has in the past. We are seeing more young alumni heading to less dense geographies, where there are exciting tech hubs and mountains for outdoor recreation. Jackson Hole, Park City, and Denver are beginning to overtake San Francisco and Seattle as attractive destinations for their relative affordability and quality of life. Increasingly, COVID has made everyone crave wide open spaces, after months of confinement in small apartments in big cities.
If the class of 2020 is any indication, the technology industry will likely continue to be a significant employer of graduates of all majors, followed by business, then education. We see many of our alumni in the humanities in non-coding roles in technology like UX Design, social media marketing, Customer Experience, product management, sales, marketing, employee engagement, and recruiting.
In this economic climate, where traditional media (book publishing, broadcast and print journalism, advertising) have frozen hiring, we are seeing our English majors exploring roles in business and corporate communications, investor relations, brand management, learning and development, and more.
Lisa Noble: Technology will impact every field! I imagine that English majors will be critical for improving artificial intelligence to create more satisfying and productive human-computer interactions. Who better to build the logic for a chatbot capable of providing adaptive, helpful, and empathetic responses to soothe the ruffled feathers of a frustrated visitor to a utility company's website or provide timely and appropriate support in the event of a real crisis?
There is very little that we won't be able to monitor in five years. English majors will have the ability to test and receive feedback on all communication manner in real-time, and adapt quickly to produce the desired results: did they attract the right audience with the right message? Did they compel the audience to respond as expected? Did first-time visitors to their website know intuitively what to do? Did they accomplish what they wanted to do in the way they expected? Were they delighted, and did they linger or buy more stuff? Will they evangelize the product or service or platform to others? Instead of waiting weeks or months for this insight and risk losing existing customers or alienating potential customers, English majors will be able to de-risk communications by fixing problems as quickly as they appear.