January 25, 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.
Illinois State University
Department of Technology
Randy Jacobs: I think the answer for Construction Management, for the short term; recent graduates need to be diligent in their effort in finding employment. They must remain in contact with companies constantly to prompt an impression how companies foresee the amount of work they will have in the next 8-10 months. I believe we will know within that time period how the economy stabilizes.
My only proof: I teach the Capstone Course, with senior students, in our program at Illinois State. In semesters prior to SP20, over 50% of the senior students would have accepted employment; in previous semesters as many as 90% of seniors had accepted offers prior to graduation. Often students have accepted a job offer from a company they had a previous internship. Internships are very important to a graduate of our program; they learn the qualities they have in relationship to job experiences offered by the internship.
At the beginning of the SP21 semester less than 40% of senior students had accepted job offers.
Randy Jacobs: Many of the skill sets will remain the same: problem solving, communication and leadership. CM graduates are accustomed to being mobile moving from job to job and working at off-site locations. But some of those skill sets will be put to the test as the need for more "digital presence" is required of companies and construction projects.
Randy Jacobs: I see a lot of resumes, but I am no expert in this area. I think for our CM majors it is no different than most college majors. Employers want to see experiences on a resume that show growth, involvement and an investment in their academic choice.
If a student shows advancement and learning in an internship from one summer to the next, I think that is important. If a student has worked through college and maintained a solid GPA or has been involved in college student organizations in some manner is key. The Construction Management student organization at our university is strong and has developed many opportunities for students to volunteer in the community.
If all these experiences show up on a resume: commitment to academics, student/community involvement and evidence of a strong work ethic; that is a student our employers should be interested in.