November 16, 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.
The College of New Jersey
Rocky Mountain College
College of Education and Human Development
The University of Texas at Dallas
University of Missouri- Kansas City
Michigan State University
National Association for the Education of Young Children
University of Arizona
University of Missouri
University of Pittsburgh
The College of New Jersey
Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Janet Gray Ph.D.: Future trends in the job market will depend, on some significant degree, in public policy and funding changes following the 2020 elections. I would expect public health, health care, mental health, public policy, social work, social advocacy, and other social service forms to continue to be growing fields. STEM skills will be essential across employment sectors as people continue to depend on remote access for a wide range of needs and activities.
Janet Gray Ph.D.: WGSS graduates enter every employment sector, so technological trends for our graduates will follow various sectors' directions. Among the most common careers for WGSS graduates are law, social work, and education. The capacity to work remotely, and do so effectively--may depend more on having access to sound technology and good training, and devising more effective ways to use the tools available, than on any new technology becoming available.
Janet Gray Ph.D.: I think an increase, though not dramatic. WGSS majors graduate with a capacity to analyze and strategize about a wide range of social justice issues, including racial justice, LGBTQ rights, immigration rights, and disability rights, in addition to gender equity. Very few employers require a degree specifically in WGSS. Still, many employers value the skills students gain through their major, and I would expect social justice skills to be increasingly in demand, across employment sectors, in the coming years. Most WGSS majors take second majors as well, and their combined majors give them an edge in a broad range of fields--including mental health, public health, law, education, politics, business, and government.
Rocky Mountain College
Philosophy and Religious StudiesWebsite
Elizabeth McNamer: Critical thinking.
Elizabeth McNamer: Every state.
Elizabeth McNamer: Very much impact on technology.
Department of Religious StudiesWebsite
Shannon Dunn Ph.D.: They will need skills, including critical thinking, writing and making coherent arguments, and reading for understanding. The fields of religious studies and theology equip persons in all jobs to do these tasks. These skills are needed not just to become a good employee but to be an engaged citizen.
Shannon Dunn Ph.D.: Many graduates go into the fields of law, journalism, and other graduate programs. Some graduates choose to work in religiously-affiliated schools and other religious institutions and houses of worship. One thing that may surprise people to learn is that a degree in religious studies can prepare a person for all careers. Because curiosity about what people believe and how they act is at the root of religious studies, students in this field are often lifelong learners and put their critical thinking skills to work in any career they choose.
Shannon Dunn Ph.D.: Technology will continue to make possible new types of research and connections in theology and religious studies. However, religious studies scholars will need to examine the impact technology has on our collective lives, happiness, and the nature of the social conflict. The great news is that students of religion and theology have a great foundation in critical thinking to undertake that type of study.
College of Education and Human Development
Dr. Belinda Flores Ph.D.: In addition to completing degree and certification requirements, employers want to see robust communication skills, digital literacy, and community engagement.
Dr. Belinda Flores Ph.D.: If graduates are taking a gap year, I would recommend that they volunteer or engage in service-type activities, such as tutoring or working in another capacity with children and adolescents, assisting with community gardens, observing the world of work in business and other industries, volunteering/working in a museum, leadership development, etc. Given that we live in a global society, I also recommend that they learn a second or third language, engage in cultural activities and cultural, historical experiences. These activities will help them broaden their experiences and help them as teachers make connections to the knowledge and skills that their future students will need to acquire.
Dr. Belinda Flores Ph.D.: Technology is ever-changing, so it is essential to have digital literacy. This can be demonstrated by attaining digital badges, such as in Google Classroom, SeeSaw, and other platforms used for learning and teaching.
The University of Texas at Dallas
School of Arts and HumanitiesWebsite
Dr. Kimberly Hill Ph.D.: During an economic downturn, the experiences that show professional breadth and flexibility stand out on resumes. The likelihood of layoffs or partial closures makes it essential for staff and administrators to understand other company roles beyond their own. The team will need to adjust by combining their skills in ways that may be unforeseen. Liberal arts, humanities, and interdisciplinary studies help students prepare for that kind of flexibility.
Dr. Kimberly Hill Ph.D.: A gap year is an excellent opportunity to develop skills relevant to working within an increasingly diverse population. I recommend studying at least one additional language and practicing through volunteer work or travel. Volunteer work will also help graduates practice active listening and cultural sensitivity skills that will be advantageous as they apply for jobs.
Dr. Kimberly Hill Ph.D.: We can expect that virtual meetings and work-from-home options will remain in demand in the next 3 to 5 years. Familiarity with the different platforms facilitating online work and e-shopping will be valuable for graduates in various fields. There is growing recognition of the need for strategies that support students and teachers without reliable high-speed internet access within education. The demand for expanded internet options will increase, but we can also expect a continuing market for remote educational technology that does not require high-speed internet.
University of Missouri- Kansas City
College of Arts and SciencesWebsite
Dr. Erik Olsen Ph.D.: In my professional experience, outside of academia, employers were interested in good applied skills. Experience analyzing real-world data is precious, so having demonstrated skill in this area is very valuable. This can be gained through internships with companies or on-campus through applied research projects or work-study jobs in research labs, etc. Good writing skills are also essential. Useful analytics is useless unless the results can be conveyed effectively.
Dr. Erik Olsen Ph.D.: Any work experience in a situation that uses economics is helpful. The main areas for this are finance, government, and research-based work in the private sector. Most medium-large companies have research or economic analysis areas. If you can get your foot in the door this way, you will be well-positioned for employment when you graduate.
Dr. Erik Olsen Ph.D.: Statistical programming languages have long been in demand and will continue to be. The older generation of languages (SAS, STATA, SPSS) will continue to be in order, while the newer open-source languages (R, Python) are increasingly in demand.
Michigan State University
Department of Linguistics and Germanic, Slavic, Asian and African LanguagesWebsite
Jason Merrill Ph.D.: In the Russian job field? Perhaps a combination that is already strong - Russian with an area studies focus on one of the many sites where Russia has a presence: Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, Central Asia, or Asia. There will be a need for candidates with vital language preparation, those who can use Russian at a professional level to research or conduct interviews.
Jason Merrill Ph.D.: Maybe knowledge of the Russian internet and social media - how they are used and their particular linguistic features.
Jason Merrill Ph.D.: Increases in demand for graduates with Russian knowledge have been forecast for a while, making sense. Russia is the largest country globally and has a massive presence in world affairs, becoming increasingly active.
National Association for the Education of Young ChildrenWebsite
Rhian Evans Allvin: Graduates will need skills tied to these competencies: link
Rhian Evans Allvin: Demand for early chlldhood education coincides with areas where there are large numbers of famiilies with young children either living or intending to move into an area.
Rhian Evans Allvin: Technology should streamline early childhood business practices from an administrative perspective. From a classroom perspective, technology is a teaching tool, like blocks, music, etc. See NAEYC's position statement on technology for more details: link
Peace and Conflict StudiesWebsite
Rachel Goldberg Ph.D.: We consistently hear from employers that they need employees who have strong communication skills, written and oral, problem-solving and collaboration, the ability to adapt and respond to changing circumstances, and the ability to work through difficulties collectively. Peace and Conflict Studies (PACS) majors are taught to excel in all these areas. The world will continue to change, so our ability to analyze, adapt, problem-solve, and collectively solve problems is what will help us all continue to survive and thrive. All the DePauw PACS majors graduate as trained mediators, and I consistently hear from them once they enter the work world that they were told they rose to the top of the pile of applicants because they had that skill set.
Rachel Goldberg Ph.D.: As we say on our website (PeaceandConflict), PACS majors are excellent candidates for :
-Human Resources professional
-Environmental/Public Policy Dispute Resolution
-Public and participatory engagement processes
-Government agency work including in-house ADR specialist
-Mediator, Arbitrator, Facilitator, Professional Negotiator
-Labor Relations work
-Church/religious institutional and organizational change work
-Organizational change and development work
-K-12 and Higher Education work like running Restorative Justice and Peer -Mediation programs
-Ombuds or In-House Neutral
-Educator or Professor
-Policy analyst, think tank researcher, strategist.
-Business Executive or Manager; work in leadership development
-Paralegal or attorney, especially Collaborative Law
-Government or agency work
Or bring productive team management, problem-solving, and constructive conflict engagement skills to any job.
Rachel Goldberg Ph.D.: The field is growing in exciting ways. ODR (Online Dispute Resolution) has been increasing for some years now. Recently, some tech companies have begun to develop public consensus-building and public participation software.
Paul Finkelman Ph.D.: After 40 years of teaching and advising students, my view is that the "best" companies to work for are those that value their employees, listen to them, and communicate with them. Corporate leadership that is accessible and transparent is essential to combine professional success with job satisfaction and personal fulfillment. As the president of a small college with limited resources, I have hired great people because the place they worked left them frustrated and angry. One of my senior staff members (who took a salary cut to come here) remarked after her first executive team meeting how refreshing it was to have people listen to her.
Paul Finkelman Ph.D.: It is impossible to predict this. Anyone who tells you otherwise is blowing smoke. There may be a whole new industry in five years that no one today can even identify, and prosperous jobs in other fields may be gone. A decade ago, who would have imagined that places like Texas and Oklahoma would be producing as much energy from wind power as from oil and gas? My advice: get a good solid education that teaches you to think; read widely; learn to write clearly, and speak clearly.
Skills, not fields, will be what matters. Communication, written and verbal, is critical. So too is respect for the growing diversity of the nation and the internationalization of business and knowledge. Learn another language, not just so you can speak with someone from somewhere else, but so you can have tremendous respect for your business associates who had to learn English to talk to you. Be prepared to work with people who are not from the same background or culture as you.
Your work teams will be diverse in every way you can imagine (and ways you cannot imagine), from race and faith to gender and gender presentation. Be prepared to respect all people and to learn from them and value them. In the last two years, we have seen industry titans fall because of their racism, sexism, hostility to people of other religions, races, ethnicities, and generally nasty, obnoxious, and sometimes illegal behavior. Learn from their mistakes.
Paul Finkelman Ph.D.: One of the greatest hitters in baseball was "Wee Willie" Keeler. The Hall of Famer hit an astounding .424 one year - the highest average for a left-handed hitter in baseball history. Keeler explained his success by saying, "I hit 'em where they ain't." He sent to ball to where there was no fielder. That is my advice for work opportunities. Look hard at where the possibilities are that other people are not seeing.
If you bought real estate in Detroit in 2008, you would be way ahead of the game today. City Center Philadelphia was in decline ten years ago and is now booming. So, don't necessarily follow the crowd to the "hot" job market. "Hit 'em where they ain't." Where you work is where you live, so finding work is only part of a successful life. If you like changes in seasons, don't go to the sunbelt just for a slightly higher salary. If you like long drives in the country, don't move to Los Angeles.
If you want to own a couple of giant dogs, don't live in New York or Chicago, and if the symphony and the opera are essential to you, then live in a large city. I would also pay attention to the environment and the boom, bust cycle of some industries. In 2014 parts of North Dakota were booming because of fracking, and you could not even find a hotel room in some places. Today the hotel rates are low and reasonable. Booms come and go. Keep that in mind.
College of EducationWebsite
Pamela Stecker Ph.D.: Because I am not hiring teachers, I am not sure how resumes always are perceived. However, I know that our particular education majors are highly sought after, particularly in our state/region. School district personnel know that they can count on our graduates' knowledge and field-based experience in evidence-based methods.
District personnel often tell our faculty that our grads were impressive when they interviewed because they could discuss practices in academic progress monitoring, data-based decision making, explicit instructional strategies, behavior and classroom management, and functional behavior assessments. Many of our students list these practices on their resumes as part of the brief descriptions of activities they engaged in during particular field placements or student teaching.
Most of our students have been able to list various extracurricular experiences with individuals with disabilities on their resumes as well. Clemson faculty and student groups provide multiple opportunities for engagement with individuals with disabilities. For example, ClemsonLIFE is a postsecondary program for young adults with disabilities seeking a university experience. Our majors (and others) work as teachers of life-skills classes, as resident assistants in apartments, and as buddies when working out or going to movies.
A faculty member organized TOPSoccer and Challenger Baseball as sports activities for youth in the local counties. Our student chapter of the Council for Exceptional Children hosts Special Olympics games on Clemson's campus for area youth. Additionally, many of our majors volunteer at summer camps or as assistants with behavior therapy.
Pamela Stecker Ph.D.: If a beginning teacher cannot teach full-time for some reason during the first year out, I would recommend substitute teaching, working as a paraprofessional, or engaging in some other position that affords experience in working with students, especially in school or work-related settings.
Another option is working on a master's degree or a certificate program focused on a skill set not highlighted or offered in the undergraduate program, such as behavior analysis, strategies for working with culturally and linguistically diverse individuals, or even becoming more proficient with instructional and assistive technologies. Any of these areas would be recognized as a value-added for a potential teacher hire.
Pamela Stecker Ph.D.: Due to our reliance on technology during the COVID-19 pandemic, its use is likely to become more commonplace for various instructional practices in the future. We all have been learning to adapt to new ways of communicating, instructing, and assessing. With that said, availability and accessibility are critical roadblocks for many students with disabilities, and schools need to address these equity-related issues.
Continued development of technological tools to help teachers manage students' social and emotional well-being will be vital. Both beginning and seasoned educators, who have had to deal with these issues head-on, should have much to say to help inform research and develop new strategies for supporting students with disabilities. Regardless of the type of technological application, we should strive to establish an evidence base for its effectiveness.
University of Arizona
College of HumanitiesWebsite
Dr. Bryan Carter Ph.D.: To ensure they keep in mind cultural studies courses taken at the university, consider supporting the department you received your major in some way.
Dr. Bryan Carter Ph.D.: Augmented reality, mixed reality, and virtual reality.
Dr. Bryan Carter Ph.D.: Starting salaries for assistant professors are decent. Not great, but will be above the poverty line. It will depend on the type of academic position one receives. Salary prospects for those with digital skillsets will be higher over the years.
Undergraduate Education Department in the School of EdWebsite
Dr. Suzanne Galella: Young graduates entering the workforce in the coming years will need to be collaborative, flexible, effective communicators, problem solvers, and proficient with technology. I think this can be true for all professions, but it is imperative, particularly in education. Young professionals will need to work with many different personalities and need to be flexible and effective communicators. Since COVID, the practical and responsible use of technology has never been more critical. Young teachers will need to be familiar with best teaching practices in brick and mortar and virtual placements.
Dr. Suzanne Galella: Many areas in our country are experiencing, or about to experience, a teacher shortage. There is an abundance of opportunities in South Carolina, Florida, Arizona, Nevada, Louisiana, Hawaii, and Alaska, to name a few.
Dr. Suzanne Galella: Technology, as I mentioned earlier, will have an enormous impact on the educational field over the next several years. Young professionals will need to remain current on best teaching practices for virtual learning, and Teacher Preparation Programs will need to update programs to incorporate these changes.
Department of Higher EducationWebsite
Jessica Daniels Ph.D.: Resume advice can be challenging because a resume review and hiring committee evaluation can be so subjective. Experience in grant writing is always considered valuable, as is (evidenced) ability to analyze data and research and develop data-driven recommendations critically. However, documenting this experience in a compelling and interpretable way is also necessary, which reiterates the importance of researching the hiring organization, role, stakeholders, and perhaps even the search committee members - so that the applicant is best able to translate their experiences into a relevant context.
Further, stand-out experiences will significantly differ, based on their role and context. For example, Dr. Ayrn Baxter, a professor in our program and also an administrator from the University of Idaho and Arizona State University, reminds us about the importance of understanding the shared challenges and contributions/potential synergies between domestic equity and diversity work in higher education and the creation of international educators facilitating internationalization and global engagement.
Jessica Daniels Ph.D.: Dr. Marta Shaw, a professor and administrator in our program is also a professor at Jagiellonian University and lives in Poland. She promotes a skill highlighted by UNESCO, which they refer to as "futures literacy." Their Global Futures Literacy Design Forum was an exciting event dedicated to this concept. More generally, and perhaps a more challenging skill to enhance, would be that of systems thinking. The global pandemic is illuminating the inadequacy of linear cause-and-effect models.
Additionally, collaboration is a crucial skill, so any experience working at the intersections of local and global issues would be valuable.
Jessica Daniels Ph.D.: Based on domestic and international student data patterns and employment trend lines, I think we will continue to see growth in online and hybrid learning modalities, degree offerings, remote work arrangements, and virtual exchanges. We are so learning management systems, customer engagement software, work tools, and platforms. But again, while the technology will be critical, it will also continually evolve and be used effectively. So the ability to learn new (and old) technology systems and take advantage of the functionality will be necessary. Further, the practices around how technology is managed and used - the personal, interactive, and human elements, will also need to be prioritized
Department of EducationWebsite
Steve Haberlin Ph.D.: For elementary teachers, they would need strong organizational skills, collaboration skills (team planning), problem-solving, emotional intelligence, ability to develop rapport and connect with students, cultural responsiveness, relating to diversity, and incredibly now, strong technology skills.
Teacher Education DepartmentWebsite
Dr. Amber Gentile: Experience working with children stands out due to the experience itself and that it reflects an interest in working with youth. It also helps if teacher candidates have experience working in an urban setting or an underperforming school to appreciate the challenges that may exist in the field. It allows candidates to speak of personal experiences in an interview that highlights the challenges they have witnessed/experienced and how they worked to overcome them. Educators need to be in it for the kids.
The experience that shows leadership capabilities and active involvement in projects is a stand out as well. We need teacher leaders and educators who get involved and make active contributions to the betterment of the community.
Dr. Amber Gentile: It is recommended that graduates continuously look to enhance their inter and intrapersonal skill sets. It is when we "push ourselves" beyond our "comfort zones" that growth is maximized. Graduates should get involved in something that matters to them and challenges them. Being passionate about something experienced and of interest helps a teacher candidate to stand out. Volunteering in schools and organizations that are mission-oriented in improving children's lives is very beneficial for both personal and professional growth.
Being involved in experiences interacting with and supporting children's holistic development can help build a skill set to guide future work. Social, emotional, and relationship-building skills are critical in the classroom. The key is knowing how to help students develop these skills. It is also an excellent idea to enhance one's comfort with, and knowledge of, technology and how it can increase engagement and student learning. This enhanced skillset can be accomplished through formal courses, webinars, and personal exploration.
Essential skills include data-driven decision-making, lessons to support kids' social and emotional needs, community building, culturally relevant and sustaining education practices, understanding of trauma-informed practices and instruction, and current best practices in literacy and math instruction are essential.
Dr. Amber Gentile: Due to the current need to pivot instructional modalities and the subsequent awareness of inequities, teaching may be changing considerably. There is research being done on lessons learned from these recent experiences that can guide our next steps. There will need to be more of a balance between targeted academic instruction and explicit support for kids' social and emotional needs.
It will and should continue to be data-driven. However, schools will most likely be redeveloping instructional practices to maximize learning in various data-driven modalities in person, or through a virtual, online platform. For example, teachers may be frontloading lessons into pre-recorded videos, using online tools to further their students' learning, differentiating more effectively and continuing to explore ways to meet every child's individual, holistic needs. Increasing one's awareness of, and skill set in, the use of instructional technologies will be a must!
Someone starting a career in elementary education will need to be confident in creating engaging, productive lessons regardless of the modality (face to face, hybrid, online, etc). Given the recent need to pivot to virtual instruction, it has become a necessity that teachers are knowledgeable with online modalities, platforms, instructional techniques, and best practices for virtual learning including pedagogy and classroom management. Ultimately, having a skillset that utilizes technology in making meaningful and engaging lessons while addressing social and emotional needs is a must...regardless of instructional modality.
Klingler College of Arts and Sciences
Laurie Marks: The experience that stands out is those where one engages in something that shows you can problem solve, work independently and, most importantly, build something to be proud of. For example, if a student can get a gap year experience where they work at a non-profit setting up new a program from scratch, it can shine on a resume and a job interview. When one builds something they are proud of that helps others, the excitement can shine through on paper and conversation.
Laurie Marks: One crucial thing any upcoming grad (including those studying Conflict Resolution) can do is look for experiences through internships or other forms of experiential learning that will help them build both soft skills and technical skills. For example, this means seeking opportunities where they are learning both written and verbal communication skills and cross-cultural communication skills. Having a robust and soft skill set is critical, especially in the first few years of one's career, developing a professional identity. Getting experience with the technical skills employers seek when trying to hire someone with a background in conflict resolution is also critical. Going into a job interview and talking specifically about how you were a part of engaging groups in one or more forms of conflict resolution methods can set potential candidates apart from others. Learning the methods and theories is essential, but equally important is applying it and reflecting on how you want to articulate your experience in an interview.
Laurie Marks: I read somewhere that the jobs we are preparing for college students, for now, will not necessarily exist when they graduate. I am not sure if this is true, but something similar could be said for technologies. One tangentially critical thing has a robust online communication skillset, regardless of what future platforms you might encounter. Also, being a learner, and having no fear about learning and diving into technologies and platforms you are not currently familiar with.
University of Missouri
Department of Black StudiesWebsite
Dr. Stephen Graves Ph.D: The experience that stands out on resumes is service and extracurricular activities, like internships and any student's jobs. There will be many students who work while going to college, but those who used that opportunity to find employment or internships that are closely related to their future career go a long way.
Dr. Stephen Graves Ph.D: If they plan on taking a gap year before going back to grad/law school or work, it would be wise for those students to stay current. A lot can happen in a year so students would be smart to stay current in their field's professional trends. You don't want to be left behind or out of the loop with current trends in your industry. Identify the most critical skill in your field and work hard on it. Stay relevant, stay in tune with the trends, and work on your personal development.
Dr. Stephen Graves Ph.D: Zoom and online teaching and conference technology will be critical and prevalent in the field. Many jobs will remain, or continue to have in-home features, so being prepared and able to shift your technique and skills online will be beneficial.
School of Continuing & Professional StudiesWebsite
Dr. Hassan Abdulhaqq: Communication skills (the art of listening to understand) must be focused on creating shared meaning and a common business language. This is vital because as we move past pandemic, information and ideas must be communicated efficiently and effectively within and among organizational units and with key stakeholders.) Computer skills ( Excel, Word) Emotional Intelligence
Dr. Hassan Abdulhaqq: Texas, Colorado, Connecticut & North Carolina
Dr. Hassan Abdulhaqq: Technology will have a tremendous impact on the way we operate beyond 2020! Remote work will be common practice, new technologies are being introduced, and those who can catch on fast will have the most outstanding results.
University of Pittsburgh
Department of Teaching, Learning and LeadingWebsite
Michelle Sobolak Ph.D.: All teachers need a myriad of skills to be effective educators. In addition to the traditional skills required of teachers, new graduates also need an understanding of anti-racist and culturally relevant and sustaining educational practices to improve schooling for all students, a deep understanding of child and adolescent development to guide instruction and engagement, the ability to connect with students and build strong relationships with both students and families, the ability to manage their own online presence and time online, and strong technological skills. Not only do new graduates need these skills, but current teachers also need to develop or strengthen their skill set in these areas to best support all learners and improve our school systems.
Michelle Sobolak Ph.D.: Currently, there is a teacher shortage across most of the United States. The certification areas in greatest need are math, science, English as a second language, and special education. Newly certified, highly qualified teachers can likely find employment throughout our country, which allows these candidates to choose the area in which they would like to live and work.
Michelle Sobolak Ph.D.: The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the use of technology in education to the forefront. Schools, teachers, students, and families have had to adjust to teaching and learning with online tools. While the impact has been great, this is an opportunity for the field of education to advance through the use of technology. It is likely that the field will retain the use of learning management systems, online tools, aspects of distance education, and technology to enrich in-person instruction. This opportunity will allow students who have to be out of the classroom to continue to learn from a distance, and schools will also be able to leverage online tools to continue instruction during inclement weather or other unplanned interruptions. In addition, in-person instruction can be enriched through the use of technology to enhance instruction, support differentiation, and advance the technological skills of learners.