April 13, 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 Connecticut
Northern Michigan University
California Lutheran University
Gulf Coast State College
Lubbock Christian University
Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College
Metropolitan State University of Denver
Coastal Carolina University
University of Pittsburgh
Roger Travis: I would imagine the only enduring impact of Covid on graduating majors in classics and ancient Mediterranean studies would come in the form of the changes to the workplace with which the pandemic seems likely to leave us. For those few continuing on to teach Latin or another humanities field, that could mean a greater emphasis on innovative approaches to delivering the material. For those seeking any of the multitude of other career paths open to a classics major, it will mean sharing the changes with which all their peers are also coping in the workforce.
Roger Travis: The BA in a humanities field continues to mark a candidate who know how to think and how to write. A BA in classics will continue to distinguish a candidate as having particularly strong skills in critical thinking.
Roger Travis: Those choosing a teaching career should consider seeking certification through a concurrent enrollment program that can get them a Masters in Education soon after graduation with the BA.
Dr. Jim Marquardson: In the short term, the job market may be tough. Companies may be unsure about their financial situations and therefore hesitant to hire right away. But I am already seeing a lot of companies start to post more job openings. All businesses know that they need better cybersecurity solutions, and they need good people to implement those solutions, so those projects cannot be delayed until we're completely past the pandemic. Criminal activity is not slowing down just because of COVID-19. Job seekers may have to be flexible in where they move, whether they are willing to work remotely, or what kind of company they want to work for starting out in their careers. But the great thing about cybersecurity is that a degree, some certifications, and a few years of work experience make you extremely marketable. Long-term career prospects are excellent.
Dr. Jim Marquardson: For cybersecurity students, the CompTIA Security+ certification is one of the most advanced certifications students can get. Many of the more advanced certifications, like the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) require years of job experience before taking the certification exam. Cyber students should plan to earn those certifications eventually to increase their career prospects and to remain up to date with the changing industry.
Dr. Jim Marquardson: Employers want professionals with strong communication skills. They want people who are comfortable in the data center and the board room. Cybersecurity professionals must be able to speak the language of business. Cybersecurity problems must be framed as business problems if professionals are to make impacts in their organizations.
George Owens: I think for one, the concepts of "where" we work given the acceptance of technology will be one of the biggest trends. Many industries and companies knew the value of technology as well as flexibility in terms of "where" work occurs. For many who had not see the light, the pandemic has solidified the thought that we can be present in our jobs and be successful with the use of technology. In my opinion, there will now be more opportunities to work remotely and we will see a permanent acceptance of the role of technology.
As far as the trends in the overall job market, we may see a shift in how we recruit. If I am running a business and I am comfortable with certain roles being entirely remote or majority remote, I have much greater flexibility in how and where I can recruit. There will be in turn, more opportunities for applicants comfortable with remote work and technology. Bottom line is there will be more opportunity for those new graduates who are comfortable working in flexible environments.
George Owens: It is my belief that the future will belong in large part to those who can match their interests and career goals to the types of roles the market is looking for. Whether you are interested in a career in marketing, sales, finance, etc. Those men and women who can demonstrate an ability to leverage their education and interests will be sought-after. The ability to write and express one's self effectively will continue to be critical.
General business knowledge (like that found in an MBA program) may continue to have a profound effect on the opportunities one is viewed as qualified for. However, these basic skills will be seen as "table stakes" the foundational element of success. The real key will the ability to build meaningful relationships, demonstrate a willingness and desire to promote an open, diverse organization and the drive to be successful while recognizing the importance of corporate responsibility. Graduate study may be a foundation, but a desire and drive to maintain one's skills in communications, interpersonal relationships, technology, diversity and corporate ethics will be critical.
George Owens: A good job out of college is one that will provide you basic skills and practice in the real world in your areas of interest. Pick a job and an organization that matches what "you think you want to do" and ensure you will be receiving training and mentoring because you will need to understand how to put your knowledge into action. In your first job out of college be realistic about what you may be asked to do and be realistic about compensation. Money won't matter if you can't leverage your first job and learn.
Emmanuel Hernandez Agosto: The short answer is yes. Although it is early, some reports of PTSD cases have been seen in healthcare workers, which will affect the way administrators develop, motivate and manage their teams. Creating a safe work environment and organizational culture will be crucial to prevent triggering those affected.
Emmanuel Hernandez Agosto: Our recent experience has shown that doing internships, shadowing programs, and even COOP education courses can increase exposure to real-life situations and how to handle them. Healthcare administrator licenses and other management or quality management credentials are a plus to any manager. Still, a recent trend has been seen in preparing managers with project management and even agile development to create in-house tools (mostly software) that could help create efficiencies in the current systems used by the employers.
Emmanuel Hernandez Agosto: Even though it may sound redundant, but punctual, proactiveness, cordial to others, and desire to learn about other cultures, ethnicities, and backgrounds is an asset in the new generation of managers. Employers always look for these, but it is impressive how many work environments don't have managers interested in developing these soft skills.
Brian Starr Ph.D.: I suspect so. As a child growing up in the 1970's, I was always confused by the wariness of people, like my grandparents, towards the flu, an affliction I deemed uncomfortable but largely innocuous. I learned later that their generation had been profoundly impacted by the 1918 pandemic commonly called the Spanish flu. So 50 years from now, I would expect young people to be hearing stories from their elders about being locked up in quarantine, switching to online learning modalities, losing a beloved older member of the family, and waiting for a vaccine.
Brian Starr Ph.D.: In some ways, it will look like a typical workday before the pandemic began. Practices refined and inculcated in the workplace over the past few decades will not all go by the wayside. But I suspect some things in the post-pandemic world will look significantly different. More people will work from home, as employees substitute a bit more work or leisure time for the commute and as employers look to reduce rent payments on office space. More meetings will be held online, particularly those which would be logistically challenging or financially costly to host in person. This will bring the benefit of flexibility to a new generation of workers, but it will also challenge them in new ways to find an appropriate balance between work and leisure. Those distinctions can blur when your home is also your office.
Brian Starr Ph.D.: Employers will continue to seek out sharp, hard-working employees who possess strong skills well-suited for the job at hand. A good mind and a good work ethic never go out of style. But as work shifts away from an office-centric base, employers will benefit greatly from those employees who embrace connecting technologies and have the focused discipline to get jobs done without being micromanaged. The former trait can be a competitive advantage for our emerging graduates. They are digital natives and many of them connect through technological platforms as naturally as they breathe. The challenge for them will not generally be the use of technology. They challenge will be developing the emotional intelligence to know which modality to use in each circumstance. A text, an e-mail, a phone call, a virtual meeting with the webcam off, a virtual meeting with the webcam on, and a trip across town to meet for lunch each have their place, and it takes wisdom to know which is best in each instant case. This will take some time and experience to master, but I suspect the emerging generation of graduates will soon discover fruitful paths. And those who mature quickly into the kinds of workers who can be trusted to get a job done timely and properly will find themselves advancing quickly through the ranks.
Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College
Master of Healthcare Administration, Business and Leadership Department
Michelle Ruiz Ph.D.: When looking at specific fields, like healthcare, there are unusually high stressors right now that are bringing about higher than average turnover. This changes the job market for qualified candidates who are looking for work, making it easier for applicants to find a position than during previous economic downturns. Other industries will see a more permanent shift in their hiring, people who were employed in entertainment, travel, and dining for example are seeing a shrinking job market. Employees from those areas are pivoting to more stable industries to find work again, through entry level positions or going back to school for a new bachelors or master's degree.
Michelle Ruiz Ph.D.: Technical skills have never before been so in-demand as they are now. With many companies still working fully remote and other companies still handling large parts of their networking remotely, skills on how to navigate cloud computing competently have never been more important. Complementing that skill set, employees who have the ability to run data analysis and act as a project manager will be able to set themselves ahead of other applicants. Graduate school can be a great place to fine tune career goals and build the skill sets necessary for meeting them.
Michelle Ruiz Ph.D.: I often advise students to think about what they want from a job and what they want from their next job. You want whatever you're doing right now to be an asset in getting you that next position. A career path does not need to be a clear and simple road, it can have twists and turns that lead you in directions you had not expected. What someone should be able to do is find something from each position that they did well and helped to contribute to their larger skill set. This is what other employers will want to see.
Dr. Thomas Johnson: If you can take a gap year, I recommend building up some financial funds and then traveling as much as possible so you can gain a greater understanding of the world around you, which in turn will help you consider how you want to live your life, as well as how you will serve the common good.
Dr. Thomas Johnson: Two trains of thought. If you want to live in a particular location, prioritize that by moving there and shaping your career around that place. If you want to have a particular career, put it first by seeking it out and being flexible in where it might take you in terms of location.
Metropolitan State University of Denver
Department of Management
Lynn Hoffman: A clear, well-written resume tailored to that job is crucial. The writer should list all of their job experiences on a piece of paper. Then, if they are looking for a sales job, explain what the experience was, what they learned about sales and proficiency. If they are looking for a management job, they should take each experience and explain what, who, how they managed in that experience.
2. Explain their job experiences and skills carefully.
3. Practical experience really stands out, such as jobs, internships, etc.
Lynn Hoffman: 1. The pandemic and technology have accelerated the move to remote work, less commuting time, supervising remotely, and developing relationships remotely.
2. Technology will continue to disrupt some industries and enhance others.
3. Successful businesses will need to be able to pivot, be flexible, and change what they are offering.
Lynn Hoffman: 1. They need to look ahead and determine which industries will survive in the new normal, whatever that is, and the new technology, and hopefully start careers in those industries that will survive.
2. They will have to become proficient in remote job searching and interviewing remotely.
3. They need to continually learn and be "technologically agile," or their skills will become obsolete much quicker than past generations.
Matthew A. Gilbert: The unique circumstances caused by COVID-19 have impacted every area of our lives. New graduates will likely find themselves in a more challenging situation than was the case previously. Given this, I encourage graduates who are just beginning their careers to be ACES: adaptive, communicative, effective, and supportive. ACES is a slang term meaning being highly regarded; in the context of the suggested acronym, consider the following explanation.
Adaptive: Remain open to top unexpected opportunities. Venturing into a new normal requires flexibility and openness; this could mean taking a job that wasn't considered, but recognizing it could yield skills, connections, and experience that could be useful in future endeavors.
Communicative: Leverage LinkedIn to network professionally and politely for opportunities, but don't connect with someone and immediately ask for a job. Call your contacts and catch up without a specific agenda; you never know what ideas might emerge. Email individuals, you respect for insights and advice.
Effective: Make use of your time to learn new skills or acquire certifications that demonstrate the value you can add to an organization. Consider volunteering for a cause close to your heart; it makes you feel better, but you could connect personally and/or professionally with new people.
Supportive: Finding a job in a normal year is challenging enough, but in a pandemic, it's an entirely different experience. Keep in contact with your friends and fellow graduates; even a short message asking how they're doing or inviting them to a social distance coffee together could brighten a day you didn't know was dark for someone else.
Matthew A. Gilbert: Marketing is at the intersection of creativity and technology, so it is difficult to identify an individual initiative that could be crowned king for the next 3 to 5 years. However, a list of technology, tools, and techniques at the forefront of marketing includes artificial intelligence, augmented reality, automation, big data, blockchain, chatbots, interactive content, geofencing, social commerce, and video search.
Matthew A. Gilbert: Starting salaries for marketing students will vary by role and region, but a reasonable range is mid $40,000 to mid $50,000. According to Indeed (Link ) "this is lower than general business degrees, but major marketing salaries rise to the top at the master's level, earning around $86,318."
Generally speaking, engineering, computer science, and math-related majors have higher starting salaries and perhaps greater potential for earnings. However, marketing salaries remain well above those for students in the arts of humanities.
Certainly, with the present economic predicament in which we find ourselves, these estimates might be irrelevant as companies downsize in the wake of economic shutdowns and changing economic outlooks. Nevertheless, marketing remains a relevant degree with a reasonable return on your investment.
Dr. Jeanette Lehn: No matter where young graduates will be working, some habits of mind that will benefit graduates going forward are curiosity, openness, creativity, persistence, flexibility, and reflection. The ways that those skills are strengthened is through engaging in writing and composing, where those habits are practiced, and where critical thinking about context, audience, and process happens.
Also, I see the ability to dive into a composition or a project without the plan for the document being perfect as very valuable. Trusting in the process allows for some really exciting insights to emerge. We have to be able to get started before things are perfect and be open to modification.
Dr. Jeanette Lehn: Staying in dialogue with collaborators is the first thing that comes to mind. We have to work together in today's economy, and staying connected allows graduates to find ways to get folded into larger opportunities. I also think that critical thinking and critical theory transfer to almost any context. I encourage students to think in terms of "skills stories," to demonstrate to others what they are capable of, in a variety of contexts, through the power of their personal experiences and narratives. The skills learned while gaining a degree, such as the ability to get specific, speaking through example, and considering larger contexts, are needed everywhere, so graduates shouldn't limit their searches to only one circle or area of work. The traditional places to find jobs can't be excluded, like search engines, but I think if you are good at considering what an audience wants, needs, thinks about and is influenced by, you can apply anywhere.
Dr. Jeanette Lehn: Tools shape what is possible in composing and writing, but we shape the tools! It will be fascinating to see what's possible, even in just five years. We've learned the power of staying connected in the last year, and I see tools that link us and help us to collaborate, continuing to stay important and only getting more refined.
The exciting thing about technology today is that a wealth of information exists to make learning new tools faster and more intuitive. We are less limited in terms of the time it takes to pick up new tools, and that's where our critical awareness to understand what tools do and how they impact ourselves and others become the distinguishing factor that we, as creators, bring to the table. The good judgment and intuition of a composer or writer are always going to be a valuable asset.