December 19, 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.
La Salle University
Department of EducationWebsite
Kimberly Lewinski Ph.D.: I do believe that education as we know it has changed forever. I predict that snow days will be a thing of the past as we have rapidly learned how to adjust instruction in a virtual way. We also know that children learn better in person, so certainly their job is safe. Teachers entering the work force will need to be more tech savvy than ever. The online platforms and new organizational trends for education will continue to be a part of daily education systems. Programs to help ensure all children have access to technology will be ever more important as this will be a very important part of the curriculum.
Kimberly Lewinski Ph.D.: My hope is that so many people have gotten a glimpse into the life of a teacher this past year and all the hard work that goes into educating children of all levels. It would be wonderful if teachers begin to gain the respect they deserve now that others could see firsthand it's not as easy as it looks. I always said the problem with recognizing the hard work that goes into teaching is that good teachers make it look undemanding and flawless, straight up easy. People can't see the hours of planning and preparation that are required to make those lessons look so effortless.
School of Business & Social SciencesWebsite
R. Todd Coy Ph.D.: Our world today is technologically driven, so it's essential to stay up with that. However, one shouldn't forget the importance of making personal connections with people. "Old fashioned" courtesies, like phone calls or thank you notes to follow up on interviews, etc., can go a long way in helping you stand out from the crowd of form-like emails.
Also, don't think that there is only one path to professional success. Be open to new experiences and flexible in exploring various ways to blend your individual interests and passions into what you want to do and then forge a path that allows you to do pursue those dreams.
R. Todd Coy Ph.D.: Even before the onset of COVID-19, the increasing importance of technology in areas like education and business communications was apparent. I believe Covid only served to speed up the oncoming changes. Using online formats to deliver professional services like mental health or education will continue to become even more mainstream. Therefore, staying current with the various applications and features found online will allow you to be more effective and marketable.
R. Todd Coy Ph.D.: In many professional fields, seeking an advanced degree or training can change the trajectory of one's salary in a positive way. But I think to maximize one's earning potential, they should be flexible and willing to learn specific technologies that will increase their real-world value to prospective employers and, therefore, maximize their earning potential.
University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point
School of EducationWebsite
Maggie Beeber: Be flexible when searching for that first job. Spread your wings and be willing to live in a new community. You may find that it changes your whole life and is the perfect fit. Remember how hard you have worked to earn this degree. You are strong and can succeed in anything you put work into. We also want you to remember we are here if you need us.
Maggie Beeber: Technology in teaching is so quickly evolving, especially in the midst of what we are going through. Take those opportunities given to you by your school district, your teacher's association, and the Department of Public Instruction.
Maggie Beeber: As much as we would like to see an increase in teacher salaries, we seldom speak of the other financial benefits most districts offer: one of the best pension plans in the country, health, sometimes vision and dental. Many districts will give raises for years of experience and higher-level degrees like a master's degree, EdD or Ph.D. Some may assist in paying for these.
The University of North Carolina Greensboro
School of Education, Library and Information ScienceWebsite
Julie Irene Bost: A range of experiences in various settings, content areas, and age groups. The more experiences a teacher candidate has, the more skills they have to transfer into new settings. A resume really stands out when it includes teaching experiences with students of varying ages, abilities, and backgrounds along with multiple content areas (e.g., reading, math, science, etc.).
Julie Irene Bost: Students should seek out experiences in educational settings as much as possible. This might be a K-12 school, preschool, or community center. Any opportunity where they can practice teaching and behavior management skills is ideal.
Julie Irene Bost: Virtual learning experiences will continue way beyond remote learning. Teachers need to continue to develop skills for teaching in remote, virtual, and hybrid learning environments. This does not mean being able to use a magnitude of web-based tools, but having a few that they use effectively. It is also important for teachers to think beyond the basic delivery of content and develop strategies to engage the learner and incorporate social-emotional learning.