February 27, 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.
Lina Racicot: As the director of graduate psychology at American International College, I have advised hundreds of undergraduate and graduate students about career paths in the human services field including mental health counseling, addiction counseling, case management, forensic psychology, and criminal justice.
In the human services field, we will see an increase in the need of professionals due to the lasting impact of the coronavirus pandemic which has exposed the vulnerability of many in need of services. Graduates will find human services to be a growing field over and beyond the pandemic due to the impact it has had on increasing stressors, relapses, and gaps in care. College graduates in this field must be prepared to meet the needs of clients in our changing landscape through innovative methods of outreach and remote care along with the traditional methods of outpatient, in-home therapy, and residential services.
Lina Racicot: Individuals with undergraduate degrees in the area of human services can expect to begin their careers in case management. A great job right out of college in human services is one that allows for supervision from a mentor who has been in the field and knows the path to career advancement. This can be found in non-profits, mental health clinics, residential services, government agencies, and within the criminal justice system. I always advise my students the best thing they can do at the beginning of their career in human services is to build the trust of supervisors ensuring them that you are a reliable individual with strong professional boundaries who can work with vulnerable children, families and individuals. The job you obtain right out of college is the stepping stone into a successful career in human services.
Lina Racicot: The path to career advancement in the human services field is through certification or licensure. For example, pursuing a master's degree that will lead to licensure as a mental health counselor will increase earning potential. There is such a dire need for licensed clinicians that most of my master's level graduates get hired directly from their internship site. Others choose to go elsewhere. Master's level clinicians can also move into management positions such as clinical director positions. Addiction counseling certification is a great option for college graduates who are not ready to pursue a master's or already have a master's but are not licensed or certified. Although it is limited to counseling those suffering from addiction or in recovery, it is a pathway to career advancement. Other possibilities for career advancement in the human services field include licensure as a social worker, certification in human resource management, and certification in case management to name a few options. For graduates interested in becoming a doctoral level expert in the field, I suggest exploring the many doctoral degree options that would help them to gain recognition and increase earnings. Those particularly interested in becoming forensic psychologist, as many of my master's level students aspire, a PhD degree is a must. No matter which path you decide on, start building that trust right now. Your reputation will precede you and lead to your greatest earning potential.