December 23, 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.
California State University, Fresno
Department of Media, Communications & JournalismWebsite
Betsy Hays: Having the ability to successfully work remotely will be more important than ever, as will being able to effectively communicate in virtual spaces. And, post-pandemic, being able to do things in a hybrid fashion - part in person and part online - will also make job candidates much more marketable.
Betsy Hays: Study the successes and failures of others so you can learn best practices based on real life. And practice being a content creator. Write, take photos, create graphics, produce videos - practice sharing information and telling stories in a myriad of ways. And when you have some good stuff, share it publicly (blog, YouTube channel, social media, podcast, etc.) to learn what people respond to. And monitor trends. There are also a number of free or low-cost certifications that you can obtain as well. And one more - volunteer for a cause you believe in to make the world a better place while learning new skills.
Betsy Hays: Do informational interviews to build your network. Ask folks about their career path, the scope of their jobs, their biggest successes, advice they have for someone just starting out, etc. And then ask if they have ideas for other people that would be good to talk to. And then keep going! Also, be obsessed with thank you notes.
Florida Atlantic University
Florida Atlantic University Career Center
Mitchell Roshel: English majors pursue career paths in many areas such as:
Any of the major cities such as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Miami would be good places to find opportunities. However, many employers in these industries are now allowing employees to work virtually. Especially during Covid.
Kansas State University
Department of EnglishWebsite
Naomi Wood Ph.D.: Yes. There can't help but be one - just as there was an impact on graduates during the 2008 financial crisis. Graduates will be forced to improvise, be entrepreneurial, and be creative.
What I will add about English and other humanities majors is that they are particularly well-suited to deal with this level of chaos and uncertainty because they have always known they're going to have to explore and grow. There is no one path to follow - and our graduates vindicate our confidence that they can find their way!
Naomi Wood Ph.D.: Communication skills, both oral and written; ability to work in a team; leadership experience; ability to problem-solve and invent. A growth mindset and readiness to keep learning.
Naomi Wood Ph.D.: Research shows that studying abroad, doing internships, participating in and leading student groups, and other forms of community engagement can make a big difference in whether your resume stands out. But it also helps if you can tell compelling stories about those experiences - what they have allowed you to learn about yourself, your place in the world, and what you have to contribute.
The University of Kentucky
Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital StudiesWebsite
Jeff Rice Ph.D.: If there is one thing people are doing in the pandemic, it is reading. They are reading, of course, writing: COVID and health news, critiques of the administration's handling of COVID, predictions for the future (life after COVID), and more. There is no shortage of analysis, updates, news, and so on. During a pandemic, people want information. This is the same for the recent election or any event,moment, or issue that attracts considerable attention.
In addition, people are reading long-form essays about sports, about global events, about current events. People are home and on their computers, and they are reading all day long. Content providers need people to create the content, do the research, edit the copy, engage in design, and handle the social media accounts. This is a time for companies and organizations to be hiring more writers.
Jeff Rice Ph.D.: Research skills. Written and digital communication skills. Knowledge of digital tools - whether Adobe products, podcasting software, and such - but also how to use the tools to reach audiences, create sticky content, develop brands, send information, persuade, and inform. It's one thing to know how to create a movie or poster or infographic or report or Instagram post; it's another thing to have the rhetorical and writing skills to properly use that tool to create information for a specific audience.
Jeff Rice Ph.D.: Many. In government, in the entertainment industries, in lobbying, in fashion, in design, in law, as digital content creators, as social media managers, and in every profession - beer, wine, food, horse industry, jewelry, construction, engineering of various sorts, manufacturing, and so on - there is writing. Writing for general audiences, writing for investors, writing for those within the industry, writing for marketing, writing for information dissemination, and so on - every industry has writing. During COVID, the government and health agencies, for example, have greatly struggled to use writing properly to persuade a general American audience how to properly protect itself. COVID needs vaccines. It also needs writing in order to show people why they should wear masks, wash their hands, and keep social distance. And, as noted, it needs writing to keep Americans updated as well as to offer analysis, critique, and so on.