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.
University of Oregon
Counseling Psychology and Human Services DepartmentWebsite
Dr. Shoshana Kerewsky: Relevant education is important, but employers also want to see applied experience, whether that's volunteerism, internships, or work. It's especially helpful to have supervised experiences in the field, because these demonstrate that you received specific training and were evaluated as successful and ethical. It's also helpful to have related experiences, such as research assistantships and positions that share a skill set with the job posting, and to describe how these translate to the job requirements.
Dr. Shoshana Kerewsky: The biggest impact is likely to be the use of increasingly sophisticated and naturalistic remote services. Students taking synchronous online classes and participating in online meetings now will have a great advantage in the job market, especially if they are learning to deliver content, perform evaluations, and practice providing services using multiple platforms. The use of remote technology means that students and professionals will need more specific ethical and legal training, as well as practice using these tools and delivery systems naturalistically and comfortably.
Dr. Shoshana Kerewsky: The workplace and workforce will need to continue adapting to the pandemic. Even when COVID-19 is managed more effectively, the flexibility graduates learn now will serve public health and provide greater equity for those in the workplace, as well as for the recipients of services. For example, remote services provide a useful alternative to in-person work that may make those services more accessible to some underserved populations. At the same time, it will be critical to make sure that remote work does not exclude people who may not have access to or the ability to use the technology.
Mississippi University for Women
Department of Family StudiesWebsite
Dr. Dorothy Berglund Ph.D.: In Family Science, our graduates earn a degree in family science and have completed the coursework needed to become provisional Certified Family Life Educators upon graduation; we are the ultimate human services generalists. Based on my interactions with our interns (our students are required to complete a 280-hour field placement prior to graduation) and recent grads, it seems that much of their work is remote but also essential.
Our recent grads work at children's protection services, child advocacy centers, hospitals (as social workers), behavioral health (social work), intervention court (case management), among others. They go into work when needed, but much of their work is remote. I have the impression that, for many sectors, remote work is here to stay; preliminary research in my broader field (on time management) indicates that people who work remotely are more productive.
Dr. Dorothy Berglund Ph.D.: In terms of the job market--I do admit my bias and also realize there might be some confirmation bias here--I do see that people in the human services are everywhere during the pandemic. I have seen people in our broader field (human services) helping to de-densify crowded housing, working with the homeless, working in care homes, helping with the response to emergencies (e.g., working to put individuals and families in emergency shelters in hotels during the pandemic for hurricane Laura). Wherever there is a need, we will need human services. There will be growth, given our aging population, in terms of services for seniors.
Dr. Dorothy Berglund Ph.D.: As I mentioned, I think remote work might be sticking around, but, in terms of specifics, I do see more use of technology in our work (e.g., tweeting new parents with info on typical development; creating FB groups for families of cancer survivors).
Department of Human Movement & Health SciencesWebsite
Lisa Farley: I think there will be an "enduring impact" on everyone... yes, it will impact graduates, mostly due to work and jobs. Shoot - I think some students have veered toward health care and health education because of the pandemic. Some of the impacts will be positive - I think there will be a lot of jobs available in healthcare (nurses, doctors, med-techs, physical therapists, occupational therapists, etc.) because of the high need and high rate of burnout in those positions, especially with COVID.
On the flip side, I think those who are interested in teaching will find that the landscape is shifting greatly, and those who can adapt will be the ones to find the jobs quickest. While hospitals have seen a great reduction in elective surgeries due to COVID, there are still acute patients both WITH COVID and WITHOUT COVID, and the need is there for folks at all levels. I also think we will see some new jobs come up due to this - who knew that "managing a pandemic" would be a job? I'm not sure I can even imagine all the jobs that have popped up in places due to COVID.
Lisa Farley: I think this type of field is wide open across the country. If people are interested in travel, I think the field of Healthcare and Health Education is open around the world. Highly skilled applicants will be sought-after everywhere. Those who are successful as college students, and especially those who complete an internship, demonstrate that they can juggle their responsibilities successfully - those are the people who will be hired quickly.
I can't imagine a place in the country that wouldn't want them. Certainly, the larger cities with more healthcare and health education opportunities will be the largest draw, but even our smaller communities need qualified people. That is until technology surpasses the small towns and we start shifting our healthcare to the larger conglomerations in larger cities... see my next answer.
Lisa Farley: That's the trillion-dollar question, isn't it?
Telehealth became much more commonly accepted during this pandemic. I believe that will continue to impact the field of health care. At some point, perhaps we will all have pulse-ox, blood-pressure cuffs, thermometers, or other things connected where we can "meet" with a practitioner from a distance. It removes the personal touch, but also removes the risk of infection, provides a better range of practitioners, and perhaps gives opportunities to those in small towns where there wasn't that opportunity in the past. It might be a good/bad situation.
As for the rest of technology, I'm not one to envision futuristic gizmos - so I can't imagine how much more complex technology will impact us. What I do know is that those who are educated should be taught not only how to handle the here and now and the content we do know, but how to learn so that as new things that we don't now know come, they are able to adapt. Some things we teach transfer to the practice no matter what technology is - ethics, ways to educate people, how your philosophy impacts your profession, etc. Those things will not be changed due to the ever-changing landscape of technology...
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Department of Human Development and Family ScienceWebsite
Pamela Teaster: Possibly. Surely there is an impact on the ability of some students to be hired post-graduation. Some students who had positions lined up in the early spring found themselves without a position due to companies/academia/government halting hiring and work. This circumstance has the unfortunate effect of delaying graduates' entry into the job market and of putting them in competition with students who will be entering the job market in 2020. Students who have interests in fields that have a direct, as well as the indirect relationship to healthcare and public health, could find that their skills are in high demand, now and post-COVID.
Pamela Teaster: One location in the US is likely as good as the other-as long as there are older adults in the population.
Pamela Teaster: This one can be huge, as telemedicine, tele-counseling, ordering goods and services, and educational opportunities online have increased vastly due to the pandemic. There will be opportunities for growth related to technology because we have direct evidence that some of the barriers to the expansion of technology were not really as difficult to surmount as we thought they were.
University of Nebraska - Lincoln
College of Education and Human SciencesWebsite
Guy Trainin: It is very likely that we will experience increased demand for teachers. If the pandemic continues beyond this school year, we can expect more early retirement/ ontime retirement than in previous years (we actually see evidence right now). that will create demand for teachers everywhere.
Guy Trainin: Teaching is everywhere and the second most common profession in us; teachers are needed everywhere, and there has been a decline in the number of candidates going into teaching nationwide.
Guy Trainin: Technology in learning has been with us for a long time. The big difference is mobility, especially with the advent of 5g. This means that students can use technology to learn anything and anywhere. It also means that students can be creators going beyond information and media consumption that was the hallmark of 20th-century education. The technology used well can provide more access, more equity, more opportunity- but only if we choose the right approach and break the chains of the 20th century industrial approach to education.