May 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.
Department of PhilosophyWebsite
Dr. Andrew Higgins: Yes, a greater diversity of educational experiences.
Dr. Andrew Higgins: That's a silly question, it has a thousand answers.
Dr. Andrew Higgins: Hard work.
Brian Braman: My fear is that the pandemic will be another reason to do away with liberal arts education and push higher ed to become just another form of expensive trade school education. Students will feel more pressure to get a practical degree, whatever that means.
Brian Braman: I advise my students who are interested in majoring in philosophy to take specific courses in the business school just to give them additional skill sets, i.e., financial accounting. Also, students with whom I stay in contact and majored in philosophy through our great books program have all gone on to be very successful within business, and financial institutions in additional to law school and various graduate programs. Philosophy is not about content it is about the most important questions of human living, i.e., what really is the good life. The ability to wonder and raise questions have made our philosophy graduates more creative in their thinking, will be able to think in ways that are not confined by preconceived parameters. Finally, my students who have majored both in business and philosophy report back that their interviews focus more on their philosophy major than business. Being a business major doesn't really make you stand out as a candidate. To be honest , majoring in business not matter what school doesn't really give you anything unique. There is a common core, so a philosophy major, from my point of view, is an additional and richer formative element that makes one possibly a better human being and a more creative and strategic thinker.
John Jay College of Criminal Justice, The City University of New York
Department of PhilosophyWebsite
Enrique Chávez-Arvizo Ph.D.: It is difficult not to answer "yes" to this question. The new coronavirus pandemic has changed the world, but this is nothing new-the world never stops changing. It is precisely because of this that employers look for agents of change, problem solvers, and critical thinkers who cannot only see the turbulent forces affecting their industries, but offer solutions that adopt the new industry models opened up by the turbulent change. One enduring impact of the pandemic on philosophy graduates is that employers will value even more the reasoning and critical thinking skills that philosophy helps cultivate.
Philosophy graduates are in a unique position to engage with the new and the unfamiliar, and to think objectively and rigorously, considering manifold points of view about new ways to adapt and thrive in the face of great change. Philosophers excel at thinking about things that would not have occurred to others-that is our job-and the pandemic has opened people's eyes to how really indispensable this is.
Enrique Chávez-Arvizo Ph.D.: Studying philosophy helps you to develop a very wide range of transferable job skills, including the ability to reason and think critically, logically, and rigorously; discover and solve complex problems; communicate clearly, precisely, and effectively; write clearly and engagingly; and understand the ethical and social implications of actions, agents, and policies.
Students who major in philosophy are well prepared for the extremely competitive current job market in a surprisingly broad range of professional disciplines, including but not limited to the legal profession, securities, banking, and business management, information technology, government, non-governmental organizations, think tanks, education, journalism, medicine, and social work.
Enrique Chávez-Arvizo Ph.D.: If possible, the pursuit of a postgraduate degree. Remember the power of philosophy. Philosophy majors are the top scorers on the LSAT and the Verbal and Analytical Writing sections of the GRE; and on the GMAT, only physicists and mathematicians outscore philosophers.
Cut the pie any way you like, continue to develop your analytic powers. Read, read, read. Read well-written books and articles. When solving problems and presenting ideas, be extra imaginative. Have an excellent answer to the question 'Why should I hire/promote/increase the salary of someone with a philosophy degree?' But most importantly, sell your invaluable thinking skills!
John Carroll University
Department of PhilosophyWebsite
Deniz Durmus Ph.D.: The pandemic is drastically changing the job market. Unemployment has been on the rise and is expected to increase but there will be demand for skilled workers especially in the public health area. The pandemic has shown us how social, economic, and racial injustices exacerbated the health disparities already present in our society. Experts who are able to identify and address such inequalities will be essential to ensure equal access to healthcare. I foresee that fields and professions at the intersection of medicine, humanities, and social sciences will be hiring more. There will be a need for skilled workers to organize and manage health related tasks in large populations such as outreach/communication, contact tracing, vaccine distribution, advocacy for marginalized populations, etc.
Deniz Durmus Ph.D.: Having strong soft skills make a candidate competitive and desirable for a variety of types of jobs. Critical thinking and excellent communication skills are quite crucial. Graduates should be able to analyze a situation critically, translate their analysis into their decision making process, and communicate effectively their thinking and decision processes to people around them both orally and in writing. Students should make a point to take some college courses that help develop critical thinking and effective communication skills before they graduate. Being a good team player is also a skill that will make them a desirable candidate. They should also be ready for the fast and hectic pace of the work environment by developing good skills of time and stress management.
Point Loma Nazarene University
School of Theology and Christian MinistryWebsite
Heather Ross: My initial thoughts are that philosophy provides a broad education and so many of our students go into a wide variety of fields. Philosophical education is explicitly concerned with the formation of the human being as a human being and so provides a motivation to care for the human condition itself. As a result, many of our students want to pursue professions related to explicit care and improvement of the world. So we have students who are going to law school, becoming educators, students going to medical school, making art and music, pursuing vocational ministry or are going into public health fields. Philosophy, at its core, enlivens that deep existential connection that we have to one another and to the world. It strengthens that sense of responsibility that we have to care for this life--other people, fellow creatures and the world.
Heather Ross: Students of philosophy become practiced at reading well and deeply. This means critical engagement, of course, but it also means they are cultivating a real sense of the complexity of problems and projects they will confront throughout their lives. They will learn how to negotiate, but even more importantly, embrace difference and multiplicity. They are learning to communicate that depth and complexity to others. They are learning how to write well. Their very notions of the possibilities of writing are being expanded from the analytical to the poetic. Our students also find themselves within a community of learners and come to value that community as a true gift worthy of pursuit throughout their lives. Lastly, our students grow to be more comfortable with unresolvable questions and ambiguity.
Heather Ross: The pandemic has, in so many way, kept us from one another and often the world. This means that longing to be with one another is really heightened because we really miss each other. Our students really have a very clear understanding of the many ways we have been let down by unjust political systems in the context of the pandemic. Limited access to healthcare, the undervaluing of the elderly, the systemic racism that cause black and brown communities to suffer the ill affects of Covid-19 to a much greater degree than their white counterparts are all issues we have been able to discuss explicitly. Philosophical analyses of systems of power do not seem abstract to our students living through these times.
Department of PhilosophyWebsite
Nancy McHugh Ph.D.: Students will need high problem-solving skills to tackle complex, sometimes seemingly intractable problems, the ability to think critically, the ability to engage a wide range of perspectives, and the ability to think compassionately and creatively. Philosophy majors are well set up for this sort of skills cluster because it is built into most philosophy curriculum.
All of the students in our department are also trained in public philosophy. This positions them well to use these skills to work in a range of fields because they have already worked in multiple public spaces with a range of communities.
Nancy McHugh Ph.D.: I think that there are opportunities in most parts of the country. It is more about what sort of work students are looking for. A lot of philosophy majors go to law school or into non-profit work. There are opportunities for that everywhere. We've had several students go into public health graduate programs, which also has lots of geographic options. That so many of us are learning to work well-remotely is opening up a lot of options for where people live that are not as tied to the location of one's employment. Thus, I'd say most locations can be ideal locations. It is a matter of what individuals are looking for.
Nancy McHugh Ph.D.: The ability to work remotely and collaborate across platforms is one of the biggest impacts that technology will continue to have on our students. Philosophy grads tend to be very adept and innovative with technology. You see a lot of philosophers developing podcasts and virtual platforms for sharing information. These skills will continue to be built and used in philosophy and out in the workplace.