November 10, 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.
Wright State University
Arkansas Tech University
Franklin and Marshall College
Northern Illinois University
AGWA - American Grant Writers' Association, Inc.
Texas State University
University of Mount Union
Kent State University
Gustavus Adolphus College
Youngstown State University
University of Idaho
New York University
University of West Georgia
Boise State University
Dr. Karla Huebner Ph.D.: Grads in art and art history need to be very flexible in their job search, as positions in these fields for people with the BA and BFA are often hard to get and low in pay. That is not to say students should not pursue these fields. Still, they should be open and creative in job searching--be available to positions that seem less in the field or contingent to it, in areas like library science, graphic design, arts journalism, etc. Graduate degrees can improve job prospects, but the same caveats apply.
Dr. Karla Huebner Ph.D.: Have no idea about technology for the future.
Dr. Karla Huebner Ph.D.: Salaries are generally low, but now and then, artists and art historians can make good incomes--don't expect to.
Rev. Tracey Bianchi: In pastoral ministry, the pandemic has forced many religious institutions and organizations to deliver worship and other elements of spiritual practice online. How faith-based communities do everything from weddings to funerals to worship services has shifted online. While churches and other religious gatherings must continue to employ pastors and still need ordained leaders, the job market has shifted to favor those who also have skills in producing and creating rich online content. Churches with resources are now pivoting to hire content managers and production teams who can help shape and craft meaningful online content that is easy to deliver.
Rev. Tracey Bianchi: It is likely that once the pandemic ends, doing church at home will remain an option for millions of people of faith. As the epidemic goes on, families and communities have become comfortable with the flexible, on-demand church option. It may be hard to get many of them back into the pews once it is safe to return to worship. The technology to support this reality will be necessary for the foreseeable future. Career options in production, streaming, and recording will be more prevalent in religious organizations than in the past.
Sam Strasner: The New York Times reported, early in the pandemic, that 36,000 journalism jobs had been lost in the United States. Poynter observed that later in summer 2020, that figure does not account for freelancers and others who count on their journalism skills supplement their regular income. The rate at which those jobs return and the quality of the opportunities will most likely reflect the pandemic's overall economic recovery. A more robust economy will allow for more advertising expenditures by companies and more subscriptions by consumers. Through it all, the quality will remain paramount. Those who can tell compelling and accurate stories that resonate with an audience will gain access to the best career options.
Sam Strasner: It will be fascinating to see if the pandemic convention of Zoom-style interviews becoming permissible for broadcast television and internet news websites will carry over in a post-pandemic world. If it does, distance technology interviews will open up a cost-efficient way to access a much greater variety of sources, stories, and content. I hope that is the case.
Sam Strasner: I think it depends upon how one defines the field. The data says we are in the middle of a 10-year period that will see a 10.1 percent decline in journalism jobs. I noticed that trend early in my career and pivoted to public relations. Our society needs journalists. It is essential that we have people who are willing to, and have the skills necessary to, do real reporting. I believe there will always be a need for that. The question is how prevalent that need will be. As a result, my recommendation to someone pursuing a journalism degree today would be to focus their electives in some combination of digital marketing, public relations, or another closely related field based on communication. That subtle diversification in skills could be the key to a new graduate getting that first job and beginning a career journey toward whatever their ultimate dream might be.
Karina Skvirsky: Don't worry if you don't yet know what you want to be when "you grow up." Allow yourself to try different jobs to figure it out.
Karina Skvirsky: That's hard to predict! I believe Facebook will become dated, and no one under 30 will be using it in the future.
Karina Skvirsky: Art careers are not known to pay well, but they produce enough and can be very satisfying for the mind and the soul.
David McMahan Ph.D.: Keep open to possibilities beyond the narrow range of what your diploma lists as your major or minor. Whatever job you get trained for today, in 10-20 years, it may be very different. Or it may not exist. Focus on obtaining and maintaining flexibility, critical thinking, creativity, and passion for learning. Being an interesting person is as vital as any credential.
David McMahan Ph.D.: Technology is moving so fast that it is unpredictable. One of the most important skills you can have is working with a several thousand years old technology: writing. If you're a good writer, it opens up possibilities that aren't there for those who can't write.
David McMahan Ph.D.: Graduates in Religious Studies don't necessarily go into careers in religion. The standard career path for those involved is going to graduate school, spending several years getting a Ph.D., and facing a tough job market. Starting salaries can vary widely depending on the college or university.
Northern Illinois University
World Languages and Cultures
Linda Saborío: For foreign language majors, study abroad experiences stand out on a resume because they demonstrate an in-depth cultural immersion from living and learning how to thrive in an environment unlike your own. Many employers will view a study abroad experience as a moment of personal growth and independence, especially among younger candidates. Also, any volunteer work with non-profit organizations in other countries will stand out on a resume.
Linda Saborío: With second language acquisition, it is of utmost importance to continue practicing that language. This means that students needing to take a gap year should consider finding ways to immerse themselves in experiences where they will be using the target language. Many students opt for volunteer work with international NGOs and non-profit organizations. Before agreeing to work for any aid organization, however, you do need to research the organization's quality and standards, their expectations of you and vice versa, and what, if any, will be your out-of-pocket expenses.
Linda Saborío: The recent switch in classroom modality from a traditional classroom to virtual learning has led to innovative technology uses in the foreign language classroom. Technology tools provide students with opportunities to connect to foreign lands, where they can be introduced to a different perspective and experience a distinct way of life. There are many innovative and interactive tools available, including Quizlet, Flipgrid, and Audacity; music videos, blogs, and even video chats with partners in another country are all excellent tools for second language acquisition.
In terms of translation technology, one cannot ignore the rapid changes in accuracy. The current technology, neural machine translation, reaches near human-level performance for direct translation. However, language localization, the process of translating images, idiomatic expressions, and a product's overall adaptability from one country to another, requires cultural understanding beyond current technological capabilities.
John Porter Ph.D.: Grant writing is a very consistent business. It does not matter if the market is up or down or which party is in office. If the economy is down and money is tight, business tends to turn towards grant funding to supplement revenue. If the economy is strong, the company has a little extra cash and is willing to explore grant funding.
When unemployment rises and it isn't easy to find employment, more people will start their own business. If that business is a non-profit, it could receive grant funding for their programs and activities.
Grant writing is an excellent full-time, and part-time opportunity. Many, mostly non-profit organizations, seek Certified Grant Writers to help compensate for the lack of revenue, which has occurred from the recent economic shutdown. Independent Grant Consultants have a lot of control over the number and type of clients they work with, from a few each month to as many as there is time to do.
Certified Grant Writers are in high demand to compensate for issues like the recovery from the economic shutdown, rising taxes, and other financial strains,
John Porter Ph.D.: This will depend on what happens in the next six months or so. If the economy stays open and business can operate as it did a year ago, the trend will be more positive. When the economy is working, people are more financially secure. They have money to donate to foundations, and corporations have more profits to put into their funding resources.
If the economic shutdown increases where both businesses and individuals earn less money, there will be less money available for grant funding. The majority of grant funding comes from donations by everyday individuals.
If the economic shutdown is prolonged, then there will be an increase in government grant programs. The government gets its financial resources for things like grants by taxation. So individual taxes will likely increase.
Another line to balance is the excessive taxation of the rich. Nearly all very wealthy people have established a foundation where they give some of their wealth to grant awards to community non-profit organizations. When the government increases the taxes on this group, the excess money goes to the government to spend rather than local non-profits.
John Porter Ph.D.: There is not a lot of technology required in grant writing. The most critical and prevalent skill in grant writing, which is lacking, is appropriately writing. Over the past decade, there has been an increase in abbreviation and slang. When put into a standard text, these expressions can become confusing.
The technology is that younger, individual writers may like to stay up on the most recent software and communication methods. Whereas funders, private, corporate, and government, tend not to keep up as fast and have older software versions. This means that the newest and glitziest software may not be compatible with the funder's software when submitting grant proposals and applications.
Dr. Rodney Rohde Ph.D.: I like to tell everyone that the Medical Laboratory degree (at any level, Associates, Bachelors, Masters, and now Doctoral, DCLS) is like majoring in four areas. One of the most rigorous degrees one can obtain, and the professional career is no different because we are continually learning, based on the real-time, best medical evidence of laboratory medicine.
Here are some broad strokes for what new graduates will need in the coming years - 1. Communication skills; 2. Problem-solving and troubleshooting; 3. Use their math and science skills, especially the core foundations of medical laboratory science - hematology, immunohematology (blood bank), clinical chemistry, and microbiology; 4. Professionalism (manage yourself, others, time, and things); 5. Self-starter with the ability to work alone and in groups across healthcare and with the public; 6. Empathy and sympathy for colleagues as well as the patients we serve.
Dr. Rodney Rohde Ph.D.: There are large vacancy rates all over the country. This is a good news/bad news issue. However, with a degree in medical laboratory science (also known as a clinical laboratory science) AND certification, one can find employment anywhere in the U.S. One of the great things about this career is that graduates honestly can decide where they "fit best" with regard to geography and employer (urban, rural, large, or small).
Dr. Rodney Rohde Ph.D.: Technology in laboratory automation and laboratory information systems (LIS) will continue to explode in the future. We've seen this over the past decade or two, and there is no reason to believe that technology, especially in the area of molecular diagnostics, will not continue to increase.
University of Mount Union
Dr. Jerome Miksell: The short answer is an experience that is similar to the desired job and place. This is undoubtedly true of very specialized university jobs.
In the performance world, a resume for entry-level jobs is a secondary matter. Your playing ability matters first and foremost. For example, most symphony orchestra auditions are blind, and resumes are not looked at until the final round.
For someone interested in music, sales experience with the products is critical.
Dr. Jerome Miksell: An aspiring performer should be practicing and looking for performance opportunities. I would also recommend travel that might enhance understanding of a particular style of music.
Those interested in business opportunities could consider finding a part-time job in a music store.
Dr. Jerome Miksell: Anything that makes live sound reinforcement and home studio recording better and more affordable will always have a future. I also think the digitization of sheet music could enjoy great success if someone released a cheap tablet.
Dr. Jay Dorfman: Students entering the music education field need to be well-versed in varied types of music teaching. More and more, we are seeing teachers being asked to teach outside of their music specialty areas. For example, For example, a teacher focused on teaching band might be assigned to teach orchestra or general music. In our programs at Kent State, we account for both breadth and depth so that students are well prepared for whatever comes their way.
Dr. Jay Dorfman: There are certainly some states with teacher shortages, but that is often because those states' political or economic climates make them less desirable as a place for teachers to work. If teachers' teaching conditions and salaries were improved, there would be more people interested in entering the profession. That said, I typically tell students that the broader their search for a job can be, the more likely they are to find a good fit.
Dr. Jay Dorfman: Technology permeates everything teachers do. Pandemic conditions have made this even more apparent. Music teachers must be comfortable with technology for administering their classrooms, and critical that they can engage their students in meaningful music, creating experiences that involve technology. Those are not easy things to do, and teachers should receive adequate professional development to help them.
Bienen School of Music
Helen Callus: It depends on what kinds of position you are applying for, and for performance students, it's going to be playing or teaching mostly. I recommend that students tailor their resumes to suit the positions, so teaching should be prioritized, and the outline should lead to that. I encourage them to put together their overview and then look at gaps - teaching experience, perhaps some administrative experiences that are always helpful.
If they don't have those things, actively search for them to add that line to their resumes. It can be a terrific way to develop the document in ways that can lead to better job success. A range of skills is most likely to appeal to a broader set of jobs. Doing multiple things (things we don't even realize we do, as musicians, daily) can be helpful. The student is then willing to be creative and open to start out doing things that are related but perhaps not their first choice.
Helen Callus: A gap year is a terrific way to build a resume. By looking at where there might be a lack of experience like competitions, teaching, administration, summer festival interns, assistantships - they can focus their time and build their resumes well. I also think being creative in these current times, showing that you have experience teaching remotely, making a studio, creating a website, writing an article, and doing research that could be helpful later on. You could also spend the time preparing repertoire to teach or take auditions and make your first recording and video YouTube performance.
Helen Callus: For many of us instrumental professors (but not all, due to the limitations of the instrument's nature like percussion or piano), we had already been teaching remotely for some years, and been able to adjust to the current restrictions without impacting our student's experiences in lessons. Teaching remotely will be a part of the future - saving students the cost of travel, hotels, time. We are trying to find creative ways to do things we couldn't otherwise do in person, like having a busy guest from Europe, unable to fly in person but teaching a class via Zoom.
I imagine this might become part of the framework that we offer in the future. Students should understand how to present themselves in these situations, understanding sound and picture quality devices (what microphones and cameras are best), internet speeds, ethernet cables, router devices, lighting, etc. But it is an excellent opportunity to understand the media of film/video and how to create best a sound video recording for competitions, summer festivals, or college applications. We were already using that medium for prescreens, so this is a chance to refine that skill as, without doubt, that will be a part of our future.
Dr. Kathleen Keller Ph.D.: Gustavus history seniors recently met with a career resources representative. She told us that the top three desirable qualities that employers search for are professionalism/work ethic, critical thinking, and written/oral communication. Our history majors develop all these skills. They work incredibly hard, engage in critical thinking in both specific and broad ways, and spend a lot of their time as students writing papers and giving presentations. So, I think they are well-prepared for the workforce.
Dr. Kathleen Keller Ph.D.: Our students find employment in various fields: business, education, non-profit, government, etc. It's hard for me to say where in the United States would be the best place to find employment. Our graduates (including 2020 grads) have had a lot of success in the Twin Cities.
Dragana Crnjak: Real-life - outside of the classroom - experiences always stand out, such as exhibitions, internships, museum assistantships, public art projects, community projects, etc. We encourage students to participate in many different activities throughout their college years with a range of experiences provided from exhibiting independently, in group exhibits, working on collaborative projects, community public art projects (such as the mural class this semester where students were involved in all stages of decision-making, from sketching and ideation, communication, site preparation, and painting, writing art proposals, etc.), internships, etc. Problem-solving and critical thinking skills are essential to all art projects and processes, and these skills not only contribute well to so many professions and fields, but they are also life-lasting skills that develop creative, engaged, and open-minded thinkers and citizens.
Dragana Crnjak: Technology has expanded the potentials of art professions tremendously within the last decade and more, and helped creative professionals find connections between fields traditionally separated from art, such as science, engineering, medicine, etc. By exposing students to new technologies, such as 3D printing or laser cutting, for example, with open and creative objectives given, students are not only learning how to use these tools, they are directly engaged in the processes of discoveries where they become leaders and owners of the outcomes. These outcomes often trigger discoveries and new challenges, technical and conceptual, with technology providing ways to expand our understanding of humanity, our time, our cultures, the fundamental questions artists have been dealing with for centuries - what it means to be a human?
Dragana Crnjak: This year brought many challenges, many drastically changing the ways artists and art institutions operate. The biggest challenge, perhaps, is that we don't know what are the long-term impacts, yet. Interesting is that on the one hand, the restrictions have opened potentials in expanded and vibrant global communication and online collaborations among artists. On the other hand, with these connections more available, I believe, artists are starting to build even stronger relationships with their neighborhoods, communities, regions, and, I hope, we start investing ourselves more fully to this self-sustainable kind of thinking, to create opportunities that will sustain and expand the quality of life and culture locally. We have already seen artists adapting and finding new ways to communicate and do work. I am sincerely optimistic that artists, with the skills I mentioned previously, will keep leading discoveries and finding innovative ways to stay creative.
Dr. Lori Khan: As you may know, there is a nation-wide shortage of teachers, and especially in our area, there is a severe shortage of qualified music educators. We have seen music positions go unfilled, sometimes for more than a year, in our rural areas, which is devastating to the continuance of any program in the Arts. Most of our students have jobs when they graduate, or very shortly after. This trend will continue as we see educators leaving the field through the ravages of COVID 19.
Dr. Lori Khan: Jobs are available both in the public school systems and in charter and private schools. Most of my contacts are in the Pacific North West, and this continues to be the right area for young Music Education graduates looking for their first placement.
New York University
Department of Art and Art Professions
Marlene McCarty: Creative and entrepreneurial thinking will be the cornerstone of what is needed for the future. As we look to an ever more uncertain future, the ability to imagine the not-yet-imagined will be of utmost importance. The ability to envision something wholly new, paired with the competence to make that thing manifest in the world, will be highly sought-after. Luckily, for art students, understanding how to make something not-yet-imagined forms the foundation of creative practice. The other attribute that will be increasingly regarded as an advantage will be a healthy curiosity and openness paired with nuanced inclusion (not appropriation) of varied and rich cultures outside one's own. As a bridge across cultures, visual art is transformational to our understanding of difficulty and times of crisis, representing independent thinking at the heart of democracy.
Marlene McCarty: Large universalized geographic hubs of creativity (such as NYC used to be) will not play the same importance as in the past. Anywhere that is local will offer opportunities, if someone is imaginative enough to see them. Participatory placemaking requires critical and holistic thought concerning the world around us. Communities of friends, acquaintances, and cross-disciplinary associates, some formed online - some in person, will be more important than actual geographical areas.
Marlene McCarty: One could argue that technical skills are a must; however, such gifts have a shelf-life and must be continually reacquired. As AI automates work, the kind of independent, creative thinking taught in the arts becomes a critical skill. Technical skills are beneficial only if a visionary mind fuels their use.
Alexander Mouton: It is hard to tell how the coronavirus pandemic will affect graduates. Some I know are joining the workforce or doing creative work, which is a good sign. How this will play out will be interesting to see, though it's a little hard for me to judge from the classroom!
Alexander Mouton: Seattle is a great place for designers and especially for students interested in tech, whether it's front-end design or working directly with code -and let's not forget game design as there are lots of game companies in Seattle, from large industries like Microsoft to small independents like Pop Gun.
Alexander Mouton: The next five years will most likely find design going ever more into screen-based media, UI/UX design, app development, etc. We hope that there will also be a new wave of more conscientious students/employees who move the needle in terms of how we relate to social media, how companies take responsibility for their products, etc.
Jennifer Matsue Ph.D.: Music majors, minors, and students who participate in ensembles, whether taking courses or not, go on to do many, many things--from graduate school in the sciences, social sciences and humanities, to entering the workforce immediately following graduation. Some students go on to careers in music composition, business or technology, or become educators themselves.
But the vast majority of students who study music in a liberal arts environment, such as the one found at Union College, learn to embrace creative, fearless, innovative idea-making, whether they pursue a future career in music or not. Studying music enriches all our lives, demanding deep focus and keen attention to detail, the ability to think on one's feet, and the ability to communicate with people, all grounded in the shared joy of the arts.
Ye Chen Ph.D.: Graduates with educational technology (Ed Tech) degrees commonly work as instructional designers, technology/media specialists, trainers, e-learning developers in k12 school, university, military, company, or government. The skills employers usually want in Ed Tech graduates include:
- Instructional design skills for analyzing instructional needs and designing & developing effective instructional solutions.
- Technical skills in utilizing technology to develop and implement instruction. At the same time, they are expected to understand how to integrate technology into instructional settings in a pedagogically meaningful way.
- Communication skills are essential as their work roles heavily rely on effective communication with content experts, clients, trainees/students, etc. throughout the instructional design process
Ye Chen Ph.D.: You could go to higheredjobs.com, https://jobs.chronicle.com/, or university websites for a higher ed job, go-to company, or other organization websites (e.g., Google) industry/government jobs; or use LinkedIn, attend job fairs and professional conferences, to search for job opportunities.
Ye Chen Ph.D.: Technology is an integral part of this field. Technology advances will no doubt bring in new exciting research opportunities and practice innovations. As people better leverage new important technology such as virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, machine learning, innovative research, and practices will emerge in personalized and immersive e-learning. The black swan event, the COVID 19 pandemic, will further accelerate this trend by placing an urgent call for improving people's e-learning experience.
Boise State University
Department of Music Education
Dr. Lori Gray: For the past several years, it has been clear that employers are seeking graduates with 21st Century Learning Skills (critical thinking, creativity, communication, and collaboration). The four Cs of 21st Century Learning frequently come up during reference calls on my end and interviews for our recent graduates.
I would add that graduates need a strong work ethic, an understanding of professionalism and respect in the workplace, and self-awareness and an understanding of personal needs and limitations both at work and in their personal lives. In these current living conditions during a global pandemic (COVID-19), graduates also need resilience, perseverance, adaptability, and flexibility. These are all skills I would want for our Music Education majors to cultivate, as the climate in K-12 Education is ever-changing. However, I believe these are all skills that would be useful in any new career path.
Dr. Lori Gray: The unfortunate reality is that there is a teacher shortage across the United States. However, this can be positive for graduates seeking jobs in Education. Even with a teacher shortage, graduates need to maintain a realistic view of the job market and be flexible in where they are willing to live. The job search process will be quite challenging if graduates limit themselves to one town or a particular job type. I urge our Music Education majors to be open-minded about the kinds of jobs they are willing to consider and explore a few locations.
Dr. Lori Gray: Technology will continue to expand the ways we connect with and engage with our broader community. Both K-12 and higher Education have required additional technology tools to adjust to teaching and learning during a global pandemic (COVID-19). While the rapid shift to remote teaching and learning has been challenging for teachers and learners, some positive changes have occurred. For example, in higher Education, shifting to online platforms allowed for greater accessibility for various learners who needed to miss class in the past due to a personal or family obligation.
The option to join via an online platform instead of face-to-face allows for more flexibility for student learning and engagement. I plan to continue to offer online options for students. For example, I may offer a variety of face-to-face and virtual office hours to assist students who may need a virtual option in the future. In Music Education, there are technology tools that enhance student learning experiences and provide diverse learning and assessment opportunities in the classroom. Future Music Teachers will be expected to be familiar with and skilled in Music Technology and how technology tools can be utilized to enhance teaching and learning in K-12 music classrooms.
Linfield Education Department
Dr. Carrie Kondor: Absolutely! With a positive spin, teachers who graduate from Education Preparation Programs (EPPs) during the pandemic, or shortly after, will have had multiple opportunities to teach in a variety of learning environments and respond with resiliency to ongoing and often urgent changes and developments. They have been student teaching using various modalities, learning systems, and technologies.
Linfield student teachers have been refining their pedagogy and skills and getting extra practice by connecting with families in multiple ways, providing support for learning and overall student well-being, and connecting with community resources. During this time, I believe that graduates will be knowledgeable, resilient, flexible, adaptable, attuned to children's community and cultural assets, and demonstrate a substantial value for relationships and mental health.
Dr. Carrie Kondor: Still, I can say that I believe graduates will find more job possibilities than before, given the broader continuum of teaching environments that this pandemic has opened up!
Dr. Carrie Kondor: I believe that teachers will be more intentional and comfortable with technology. Technology will continue to be used to target specific learning needs. It provides opportunities for kinesthetic, auditory, and visual supports to pedagogy, while also opening up opportunities for students to demonstrate their learning in meaningful and creative ways. Perhaps another important note is that this pandemic has shown us that technology cannot take our teacher's place. Effective and responsive teachers are the key to student success.