February 3, 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.
David Blunck Ph.D.: Yes, I believe that there will be an enduring impact, just like all major challenges our country has faced (e.g., The Great Depression, WWII, etc). All of us will view the world differently and likely emphasize personal safety and security more. On a more practical basis, this experience has forced us to embrace technology and in the process realize that companies and individuals can successfully approach work and engineering differently. As a result, I think that our modes of communicating, collaborating, and working will be largely altered.
David Blunck Ph.D.: In the near term, I expect that graduates will wrestle with challenges associated with the pandemic. For example, training, on-boarding, communicating are altered for many fields. Perhaps more challenging is helping companies navigate through financial challenges, and take advantage of new opportunities for growth. While in the short term, it may be a struggle for many graduates, in the long term I think that engineers are well positioned for stable and meaningful employment. At its core, engineering is about problem solving and there will always be many problems that need to solved using engineering skills.
David Blunck Ph.D.: Employers like students who have engineering-related experience. Experience can come through internships, research, jobs, and extra-curricular activities. Graduates need to realize that they will likely apply to jobs where all of the other applicants have the same degrees. So students need to identify ways that they can differentiate themselves. Experience can be a great differentiator.