February 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.
Dr. Vicent Moreno Ph.D.: I wouldn't say that there is one course or certification that has a bigger impact. In general, bilingualism or the ability to communicate in a language other than English with clients is definitely what most employers will be looking for. In addition to this, skills like problem-solving, critical thinking, intercultural competence, and public speaking are always sought after by employers across all markets and industries. Any degree in Romance Languages should provide you with the skills I just mentioned through the classes offered, regardless of its focus in literature and culture or language.
However, depending on which field you want to work in, you may want to pursue a level of specialization through specific credentials. For example, certificates such as Spanish for the Professions have become increasingly popular for graduates who want to have an edge when applying for jobs in law enforcement, health professions, or business, among others. Those who wish to teach K-12 will usually need a specific state license and a BSE degree in the target language. In some other cases, like for those wanting to teach in Higher Education or become a certified translator or interpreter, a Masters or a PhD in the language will typically be required.
Dr. Vicent Moreno Ph.D.: I don't think there will be an enduring impact, at least not in a negative sense. I can see how, for certain professions, the old models of working 9-5 in an office space might have been disrupted and perhaps changed forever as a result of the pandemic. Thus, flexibility and ability to work from home might be key assets for graduates entering the job market. A similar situation applies to graduates wishing to work in the education field, which is the career of choice for a lot of graduates in Romance Languages. The ability and willingness to work both remotely and in person are very important elements that the pandemic has brought about and will probably stay on even after the crisis is over. Related to this, online education has gained even more momentum, exacerbated by the need to work from home. In this sense, the skills to develop engaging pedagogical materials for use in online or hybrid classes will definitely be a must in the years to come for those entering the field now.
Dr. Vicent Moreno Ph.D.: This is hard to answer as it depends mostly on what job you do and the geographical location. It also depends on the level of education attained: those with Masters and PhDs tend to fare better in terms of salaries. In general, though, I would say that salaries for those in the field of languages have been stable throughout the years.
Eric Ross: I think the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on 2021 graduates will be profound and long-lasting. The job market wasn't great even before COVID, and the overall economic damage caused by the pandemic has made things worse.
Eric Ross: First, many students of Classical Languages have two majors, with their career goals focused on the non-Classics field. Second, many of my students pursue either graduate or professional school, so they don't necessarily enter the work force immediately after graduation. Long term, they often want to be doctors, attorneys, academics, or politicians. Studying Classical Languages contributes to these goals by fostering analytical thinking and communication skills.
Eric Ross: Employers are looking for strong communication skills of both the modern and old-fashioned variety. Expertise in web design and social media are highly marketable. At the same time, employers are looking for people who are skilled writers and public speakers.