December 12, 2020
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.
Wilson Chung Ph.D.: COVID-19 highlights how events outside your control can give you a life experience that has no comparison. Whether you are young or old, an example is the graduation ceremony, which is the final event of a graduate's college experience that punctuates their college chapter-a celebration for them, their family, and friends currently no longer possible. I am sure they will be thinking about 2020 for the rest of their life.
Wilson Chung Ph.D.: Adaptability. Evidence of hands-on experience and ability to convey that knowledge to others and ability to work with others and connect with peers and established professionals in their chosen fields.
University of Kentucky
Dr. Mark Prendergast Ph.D.: "Hands-on" experience outside of the classroom is precious to a former student heading into the workforce. Such experiences may include internships, working directly with faculty on independent research projects, or shadowing a professional working in a given field.
Dr. Mark Prendergast Ph.D.: Again, hands-on skills, even if that means volunteering.
Dr. Mark Prendergast Ph.D.: Neuroimaging and direct brain stimulation are emerging as tremendously valuable tools to understand how the brain and behavior interact.
Deborah Podolin Ph.D.: Demonstrated proficiency in skills (mainly technical skills) that are listed on the resume/CV. For example, being able to cite the hours of experience using specific skills. Also, contributing to a published abstract or paper in a respected journal can help students stand out.
Deborah Podolin Ph.D.: If a student is interested in working in a laboratory, any technical skills are what they should obtain. Even if they find some time to volunteer in a lab (maybe at their undergrad institution) or volunteering with a scicomm (science communication) organization doing demonstrations, it shows that they are committed to developing and maintaining their technical skills.
Deborah Podolin Ph.D.: Quantitation is increasingly important, so understanding statistics and the basics of computing is critical to adapting to new technologies. And of course, mastering fundamental skills like making solutions and pipetting accurately is always essential to success.
Nova Southeastern University
Department of Psychology and Neuroscience
Dr. Mercedes Fernandez Ph.D.: NSU's Experimental Psychology Program provides the highly competitive skills needed to succeed in the workforce:
- Working in teams
- Working independently
- Possessing strong oral and written communication skills
- Being educated consumers of research
- Producing independent research
- Proficiency in using current professional software tools
- Proficiency in open-access software, including R and Python
Dr. Mercedes Fernandez Ph.D.: Numerous government agencies and private companies in the USA provide employment opportunities for graduates with these skills:
- Colleges and universities are teaching undergraduate students
- Research lab coordinators in universities and industry
- Conducting institutional research
- Businesses that want to analyze and interpret big data sets (e.g., police departments, Disney World)
Dr. Mercedes Fernandez Ph.D.: Advances in technology are enabling more flexible data collection and distance communication and training:
- Survey research is moving out from the laboratory to online platforms
- Laboratory equipment is becoming increasingly more ambulatory, enabling data collection outside the laboratory
- More work, teaching, and meetings are being held remotely due to advances in online conferencing technology
Henderson State University
Department of Neurology
Roger Kelley: There will an impact in "overserved" areas of the country with the pandemic, and this includes places like Boston, New York, and Philadelphia where thousands of local trainees graduate each year and often enter the local job market. There is only so much to go around, and there will be cutbacks in reimbursement for care related to the financial impact of COVID-19 on the economy as well as the competition in the job market tends to drive the reimbursement lower. The higher unemployment rate, in particular areas, will have a definite effect on health insurance coverage. The underserved areas, such as rural and areas of the country with much less in terms of trainees entering the job market, will continue to have a strong demand for healthcare workers to fill ongoing critical needs that are not presently filled. Economic regions, particularly impacted by COVID-19, such as leisure and travel, will certainly suffer in terms of the need for healthcare services related to job loss and relocation.
Roger Kelley: As mentioned in Answer 1, underserved areas, and growing areas such as Texas, Florida, the Carolinas, should continue to have a robust need for graduates.
Roger Kelley: Telemedicine will expand to meet the needs of underserved regions. The benefits of telemedicine are limited, as one cannot actually examine the patient and get a feel for their demeanor, expectations, etc. like one has during an actual visit. It is particularly suited for follow-up patients who are stable and do not necessarily need a "hands-on" approach. Certain patients welcome telemedicine visits because of safety and convenience, while many others find them superficial and of limited value. Many visits are scheduled for reassurance, and this is limited by telemedicine, especially with technological limitations, which can be seen with present WiFi access as well as the logistics of setting this up for a patient remotely. Many patients, especially older ones and those impaired, have significant challenges with the logistics. AI will be a major factor in upcoming years with potential automated "reads" in Radiology and Pathology. Perhaps less of a factor in other fields of Medicine, but it is quite possible that sophisticated "examination scans" will become more sensitive than the present physical exam in the future.