October 9, 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.
Megan Harvey Ph.D.: I suspect we'll see a boom in health-related professions, including public health and epidemiology! Health care workers are our front-line heroes, and I suspect many graduating students will consider accelerated nursing degrees and physician assistant graduate programs.
Megan Harvey Ph.D.: More than ever, employers want to hear that students are able to work collaboratively on a team to produce a high quality product. We are giving our students as many opportunities to work across disciplines as possible. This has been true for awhile, but we also hear that employers value students who graduate with the ability to problem solve in a productive way - meaning, problem solve a solution when it's appropriate but being able to recognize which situations require asking for help sooner.
Megan Harvey Ph.D.: I assume you mean geographically - rural areas are in desperate need of health care professionals of every kind. It can be difficult to recruit new graduates to rural areas but those who do find themselves working with this population often find it very rewarding. As a bonus, some of these areas are tied to some generous loan forgiveness programs!
Xia Jing: I think so. The COVID-19 pandemic is a historic event, on the tragic side, though. I think everyone who experiences the pandemic will have some levels of long-lasting impacts in their professional or personal lives. For example, their views about public health, one's individual privacy versus public health needs regarding health information sharing, how to have a balanced eco-system between humans and the natural environment and other lives on the earth, self-discipline, be responsible to oneself and to the ones we contact, intentionally or unintentionally. If some of the recognitions/understandings are at the philosophical level, then the impacts may last much longer in one's professional and personal lives.
Xia Jing: I think a recent graduate faces some unprecedented realities, which very few of us have prior experience. A recent graduate must be prepared to function and thrive without detailed instruction or guidance. This may take a lot of judgment and creativity, which can be tricky for an inexperienced newly graduate; however, this is a reality we have to cope with on a daily basis. On the bright side, this is a great opportunity to grow, to explore your own boundary, and to become a better version of yourselves rapidly.
Xia Jing: Programming skills, analytic skills, Web development experience, a deep understanding of health system operations in the USA, and a great understanding of medicine and health care delivery will be big pluses in the field. In addition to the technical skills, learning capabilities, adaptabilities, creativities, problem solving, pay attention to details, perform in a team are all critical characteristics in health informatics.
Dr. Dustin Russel Slivka: Everyone wants to make a lot of money and have an easy life. That's not a reality for most people. There will be financial and personal struggles along the way. A good job is one where you are happy, can express your talents, and be able to live within your means. Depending on your personal situation, having insurance and other benefits may be an important aspect of a good job, but you need to like what you do.
Dr. Dustin Russel Slivka: I believe we will continue to see all aspects of health and wellness come to the forefront. The pandemic has been a big wake-up call for individuals as well as governments to take our health seriously. This could be from a research perspective but also a practitioner's perspective. I think this will become evident in the job market.
Dr. Dustin Russel Slivka: For most jobs you need to at least check all the boxes of the technical skills. In today's market that may still not be enough to get that job. You need to find a way to set yourself apart. You need to seek out additional opportunities during your training. You need to be involved in the field and in your community. You need to be yourself and explore your own interests that make you an individual and not just another application that checks the boxes. I think UNO does a great job at helping students discover themselves, find unique opportunities, and become more than just checked boxes of technical skills.