January 20, 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.
University of Baltimore
Division of Applied Behavioral SciencesWebsite
Sepideh Soheilian Ph.D.: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of mental health counselors is projected to grow 25% from 2019 to 2029, which is much greater than the average for all occupations. The pandemic has greatly affected the mental health of Americans due to the necessity to quarantine and/or keep a safe distance from others. Human beings are social by nature. Thus, social isolation can significantly impact stress levels and mental health. Additional ways that the pandemic has negatively affected mental health is via job loss as well as creating increased responsibilities for people while working virtually such as caring for children engaged in distance learning, or caring for the elderly. The aforementioned situations can be challenging and create stress for individuals, especially if they are unable to engage in appropriate self-care, or positive ways of coping in response to the new stresses in their lives. As such, my prediction is that there will be an even greater demand for mental health services due to the pandemic, consequently resulting in a greater need for mental health professionals.
Sepideh Soheilian Ph.D.: If a recent college graduate decides to take a gap year between their undergraduate studies and starting a master's program in Counseling Psychology, my advice would be to try their best to be exposed to or engage in either 1) experiences in the field of mental health, or 2) experiences that will strengthen their social science research skills. Engaging in these types of experiences such as working as an administrative assistant in a private practice, or volunteering on a psychiatric unit at a hospital will provide greater exposure to the field of mental health and hopefully, help the graduate determine if entering the mental health field would be the right fit for their career expectations, goals, and values.
Sepideh Soheilian Ph.D.: General advice I would give to a graduate in the field of counseling psychology beginning their career is to be flexible and open minded, especially during these unprecedented times due to the pandemic. Being open to providing mental health services in a variety of formats such as virtual or hybrid (combining virtual, and in-person services) will allow for greater flexibility in providing services to clients. Career development and career satisfaction is an ongoing process. Therefore, I would also encourage graduates to continually evaluate and assess their careers to determine if their current position is still the best fit for their career values, needs, and goals.