January 13, 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.
University of Florida
Computer & Information Science & Engineering DepartmentWebsite
Peter Dobbins Ph.D.: I have heard points toward the "working remotely" model. As Computer Scientists, this is something we have known and in certain cases actually have been doing for a number of years. Industry shifts adapting to COVID have brought the fields surrounding CS into the remote work model... and are finding it works! As one of the first fields to embrace the model (a simple transition given how natural the fit), CS majors will only continue to find remote work opportunities.
Peter Dobbins Ph.D.: Skills would be the things allowing a student/employee to display their ability to work remotely: initiative, teamwork, independence, self-starter, some of the same things we have always seen were positive attributes.
University of Florida
Computer & Information Science & Engineering DepartmentWebsite
Sanethia Thomas Ph.D.: When the pandemic first hit, I had students very concerned about their summer plans of having an internship, but as things worked itself out, and a lot of students maintained their internship by working remotely. In response to the declining job market, I have seen students redirect their efforts in the direction of graduate school. Many have expereinced difficulties finding job opportunities and "landing" the interview. Therefore more students are considering graduate school as we ride the wave of the pandemic.
Sanethia Thomas Ph.D.: As we are in a competitve market and moreso now due to the pandemic, it is valuable for students to show work experience and how it relates to the job they are applying for. It is a plus if they can show work experience in a remote environment. Students should be able to show that they are capable in working in a team environment and the roles they filled on the team; team lead, technical lead, front end, back end, project manager ect. Students should also have a portoflio of thier work, projects ect.
I often hear employers seek out students who have expereince working in the community or doing some type of social good. Highlighting community/social good works speaks to human side of the applicant, which most employers value.
Sanethia Thomas Ph.D.: San Fransico Bay remains on top with Seattle, New York, Los Angeles and Pittsburgh closley following.
Operations & Decision TechnologiesWebsite
Bipin Prabhakar: Technology will become a strategic enabler for most businesses. There will be increasing demand for graduates who can help create this technology (Computer Science/Data Science) and for graduates who can leverage technology (information Systems) to create business value.
Bipin Prabhakar: Skills by themselves on resumes do not provide enough information for the reviewer to assess a candidate. The resume has to showcase the actual capabilities rather than just listing skills. What can you actually do with the listed skill? With that said, deep skills in software development, data science and AI or the broad set of skills required to enable digital transformation will be in demand. Digital transformation requires skills in business analysis, business process and process design, technologies such as next generation ERP systems, AI and ML, cloud architectures and platforms and business analytics.
Bipin Prabhakar: There are three major sectors that hire technology graduates - the tech companies that tend to be in tech hubs and major cities, major corporations that are all over the country and consulting organizations that tend to have offices in the bigger cities with access to local clients or well-connected airports. Major employers tend to recruit nationally from the top programs across the country. The best time to find work is before graduation and the best place to find work is the campus recruitment process.
University of Missouri
Information Technology ProgramWebsite
Dale Musser Ph.D.: -Work at home for now. "You will have an office at the company after the pandemic."
-Transition of companies to new locations. I see some companies leaving the Bay Area for other locations. Reducing space in San Francisco by a number of companies shows that after the pandemic many employees won't be returning to the physical locations they used to work.
-Increased focus on automation and autonomous systems given the proximity issues.
Dale Musser Ph.D.: -Working on teams and collaboration - people skills matter a lot.
-Past accomplishments in delivering results while working with others
-Technical skills in target areas for job. The hottest areas right now: machine learning, large scale apps, and autonomous systems.
Dale Musser Ph.D.: -Yes, everywhere. IT, CS, and CE are in demand in every corner of the U.S. The hot spots are the tech centers, such as the Bay Area, Seattle, Austin, and Atlanta.
-I tell my students to mostly ignore the job sites and to look at the employment and careers pages on company websites. The best jobs never make it to job sites.
University of Illinois at Chicago
Department of Information and Decision SciencesWebsite
Matthew Liotine Ph.D.: Currently, much of the hiring is skewed toward online fulfillment roles, which is of no surprise given the pandemic. This includes roles in procurement, which is undergoing a transformation due to COVID. This also means working within the physical environments and operations required to support this activity. Several of our students received offers from Amazon as a result of their hiring push.
Matthew Liotine Ph.D.: If a student decides to take time off before moving on to a job or graduate school, they should use that time to develop skills in which you may not receive formal training while in college. For example, skills like leadership, problem-solving, teamwork, and communication are going to be more vital than ever in the new norm.
Matthew Liotine Ph.D.: Most employers tell me that soft skills are equally, if not more important, than technical skills or domain knowledge. This translates into external/internal customer-facing skills, such as communication, team collaboration, writing, presentation, problem-solving, and being resourceful. (Many graduates overlook writing as a vital skill, but they fail to realize that in the course of their jobs, they will likely be required to write lots of memos and tons of emails.) The need to perfect these skills within the confines of a virtual world has become even more challenging and amplified with COVID. I teach in the information systems discipline, and when you view student resumes, many people look the same on paper. The soft skills will make a candidate stand out head and shoulders above the rest. That's why the candidate should pay attention to the screening interviews that they will undergo during the hiring process since employers will use these interviews to vet these skills.
Loyola University Chicago
Department of Computer ScienceWebsite
Peter Dordal Ph.D.: I'm leaving off software developers, and answering about our Information Technology graduates.
IT students entering the business world will need to know how to get the maximum leverage out of business systems. In many cases, this will mean writing their own specialized queries to extract the precise business intelligence needed; general-purpose "canned" queries just won't cut it. They will need a broad understanding of what software can accomplish for the enterprise and how to deploy new software effectively; this applies to software used in the office as well as to software used in manufacturing and shipping. And they will need to understand how to lease storage and computing resources from the cloud to meet not only predictable, long-term demands but also sudden short-term business projects.
Students working in database administration and management will need to be able to manage much larger volumes of data than a few years ago. They will need to be familiar with the great variety of new databases in order to pick the best tool for the job.
Students working in network management will need to be able to ensure that everyone has the bandwidth and server access they need, as those demands expand to include extensive video, low-latency real-time connectivity, and the regular transfer of huge amounts of data.
Students in cybersecurity will need to be fully acquainted with all the recommended best practices. However, they will also have to be able to anticipate and guard against potential new vulnerabilities. "By the book" protection is no longer sufficient.
Peter Dordal Ph.D.: For software developers, yes, there are advantages in working in places where there is a high concentration of other developers. But for students interested in applying IT to business, there are opportunities everywhere.
Peter Dordal Ph.D.: I think the biggest driver for change will be the continued explosive increase in the amount of data available. Ten years ago, it was enough to know customers' names, addresses, and past orders. Now there is a huge stream of information about what customers are looking at, what they are clicking on, what they're doing with your product, and what your customers' customers are doing. Analysis of this kind of information is becoming mainstream.
Adriane Bradberry: Technology increasingly permeates every aspect of society and provides the foundation for most modern innovation. Young graduates with computing skills will be able to apply to some of the most fastest-growing and highest-paying jobs over the next decade-jobs that are available in nearly every industry, including art, finance, healthcare, and entertainment. Students can establish and develop necessary skills by exploring computing programming apps, taking Computer Science or IT courses (online or at a local community college, if these classes are not offered at school), taking math classes, and joining after-school computing clubs. Graduates who develop these skills will contribute to meaningful work-developing innovative solutions that save lives, solve health problems, improve the environment, and keep us connected.