March 26, 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 Toledo
Department of Political Science and Public AdministrationWebsite
Dr. Jami Taylor: Yes, there tends to be a long term effect to graduating in a recession. If you can find a job, there is a tendency to make less. Economic studies note that this low pay may persist for some people.
Dr. Jami Taylor: The MPA is a professional degree. You should focus your education toward courses that provide marketable skills. Fully engage with your budgeting class. Learn human resources management. Fundraising is certainly important if you are going into nonprofits.
California State University
Department of Public Policy & AdministrationWebsite
Sara McClellan: I suspect graduates completing public policy and administration programs will experience significant employment uncertainty and instability for at least the next two to three years. Numerous public sector agencies have implemented hiring freezes, early retirement options, or other cost-cutting strategies to minimize COVID-related economic impacts. Many nonprofits also face an uncertain future in terms of funding sources. Nearly all organizations are working with tremendous uncertainty; public sector organizations like municipal government agencies are particularly uncertain about if, how, and when additional federal assistance might help to offset growing economic challenges.
Therefore, we are likely to see fewer full-time permanent hires in many areas of public sector work, including education and basic municipal services. However, essential service jobs related to public health and emergency services may remain strong options for graduates during and in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic. Longer-term public sector job prospects will likely depend on a strong, coordinated national response to the coronavirus pandemic. The November elections will certainly shape government jobs in significant ways over the next several years.
Sara McClellan: Graduates are likely to find more public sector job options in the areas of health care, technology, and emergency services over the next several years. In terms of geography, graduates will do better to search outgrowing rather than contracting regions and urban areas that typically offer a greater diversity of employment options. Graduates may also improve their longer-term job prospects by serving in temporary and part-time roles to gain experience and build their networks during this present period of uncertainty.
Sara McClellan: If the next administration prioritizes closing connectivity gaps, we will likely see a variety of technology job options open up in the public sector. Beyond that, new technologies like self-driving vehicles and clean energy solutions will likely open up demand for innovation and regulatory roles that don't currently exist.