January 30, 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.
Andrew Wertheimer Ph.D.: Most libraries are in the public sector, so I imagine the job situation will depend greatly on bailouts for states and local governments. The Trump administration and Senate forced states to reply to COVID-19 issues without giving them funding, so local and state governments had to freeze hiring in most places for all civil service positions. Now that we have a new administration which sees the value of education and libraries and local government, I expect jobs to slowly recover. I think the pandemic certainly increased the need for graduates with strong technology skills. Of course, there also is strength for those who can market their ICT skills in other workplaces too. I imagine health informatics will continue to be a growth field.
Andrew Wertheimer Ph.D.: Libraries and archives look for a variety of skills. It would be hard to specify which ones since different workplaces need different skills. The reason they hire our graduates is that they have this wide range of skills as well as soft-skills to provide service to users and communities in an ethical and legal way. If I had to name a few areas though I would say health informatics, digital archives, digital libraries, online instruction, as well as data science. Again, different employers have different technical needs. Our employers keep telling us that they also need the strong foundations plus soft skills.
Andrew Wertheimer Ph.D.: To become a librarian or archivist one needs a Master's of Library and Information Science (MLS) so it is a big investment after getting a BA/BS. Each person is going to have their own definition of what is a good job. I advise my students to think about what is important to them. Some will go for the highest paying job, and others will be more excited about the potential for promotion, but I would have to say that our graduates also want to see a learning environment in an organization that really serves their community. I would say that most libraries and archives are great places to work since they are all about helping communities with collections and services.