March 1, 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.
Elsa Maria Castillo: The pandemic has definitely impacted the job market, and although we still get requests for candidates for internship opportunities or jobs from our various partners, during the pandemic there has been an increase of requests in the following areas: Cybersecurity, Weapons Development and Testing, Aerospace, Quality Control Engineers, design and development of Prosthetics, Optics, Solar and alternative Energy systems, and Telecommunications. A slight shift into the development of medical technologies, data analysis, coding, artificial intelligence, robotics, and virtual reality is evident.
Elsa Maria Castillo: In addition to the standard engineering coursework, it is important that students invest some time in the development of tech skills and digital skills that go beyond coursework such as conducting undergraduate research and receiving training in project management, additional programming languages, internet of things, machine learning, finite element analysis as well as the development of soft skills that could make a bigger impact on the job prospects. This is why at UNM Engineering we have partnered with alumni from various industries to offer some additional engineering skills workshops to help enhance our students learning experience and better prepare them to enter the workforce. Students should also aim to participate in internship opportunities or seek out and connect with professional mentors who could give students an insight into career opportunities and take advantage of networking opportunities offered through their school. We also recommend our students to create professional online profiles in apps such as LinkedIn and the schools' Office of Career Services digital platforms.
Elsa Maria Castillo: It all depends on the level of education, training and experience attained by the student during their college years. For instance, what I would consider a good job for someone with Bachelor's degree in Engineering would be a position conducting research and development in the respective engineering field either at a multinational corporation or at a national lab with six figures and that offers additional educational benefits for the individuals to continue advancing in their careers. For example, a few years ago I had a student who graduated with a Bachelor's in Chemical Engineering, who conducted a lot of research as an undergraduate student and participated in various internships. He wanted to go directly into the workforce before attempting graduate school. His training and experience allowed him to get a job at a multi-national corporation that offered him a starting salary of $105,000 plus financial support to continue with graduate school. That for me is a great job out of college and the student does not aim to pursue a graduate degree right away.