December 11, 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.
Bowling Green State University
Worcester State University
Keene State College
Daytona State College
Montana State University
University of Indianapolis
Utah State University
Ferris State University
Bowling Green State University
Department of Public and Allied Health
Dr. Lauren Maziarz Ph.D.: Students have to build the skills necessary to navigate a rapidly changing work environment, one I believe will endure indefinitely. Fully remote work and more generous telecommuting policies will become the norm, which is excellent on the surface but requires being more autonomous and flexible as an employee. As a new graduate, working your way up the leadership ladder may also be more challenging. Being in a traditional office environment can encourage more collaboration and teamwork, often the earmarks for promotion.
Dr. Lauren Maziarz Ph.D.: I believe skill-building should first be an individual endeavor, where students reflect on what skills they have to offer and then utilize those skills to gain experience. For example, BGSU is encouraging both public health and Medical Laboratory Science students to volunteer as contact tracers and COVID testers to utilize their skills to be part of the solution. As a whole, graduates will need to demonstrate compassion for each other, flexibility, autonomy, and ingenuity. Employers have had to change protocols, work-flow assignments quickly, and procedures to adapt to the pandemic. Graduates should be ready to speak to how they can contribute to innovation within a facility and provide leadership during crisis times.
Dr. Lauren Maziarz Ph.D.: While it is not always feasible right now, finding ways to intern or volunteer, even remotely, is beneficial for building skills and networking for a potential employer. I would recommend using this time to reflect on your career path, gather any credentials necessary or useful for a job (such as certifications or licenses if appropriate), and reach out to employers to see if they are willing to take on an intern. Demonstrating that you have taken this time to grow as an individual and future employee will benefit from traditional coursework.
Dr. Andrew Piazza Ph.D.: Already important in a pre-COVID era, but more important now more than ever, graduates need computer skills. Smartphones have gained tremendous capability over the past decade, such that many people have little need for a desktop or laptop computer in their personal lives. In many workplaces, though, computers are still the dominant method by which work is expected to be done. If you are not comfortable with using a computer, you are behind before you even start working. My advice is to buy a computer now and begin using it to complete and submit assignments. If you have any credits remaining to graduate, take an intro to computers class at your college. Video tutorials can also be found online.
Dr. Andrew Piazza Ph.D.: I am not sure of specific areas of the US, but this is a challenging time to be seeking employment. The good news is that health is interdisciplinary, meaning the skills you learn in a health major can be applied almost anywhere. Begin your job search by looking for jobs in the health field, but -- if current hiring freezes seem boundless -- don't be afraid to extend your job search to a related field. For example, when I graduated with my undergraduate degree in health education, I secured a job in a physical therapy clinic as an exercise specialist. I would never have imagined how much I would enjoy this job, but my interest in exercise and my academic background in health education was a perfect fit! During the interview, I was able to convince the company that my background in health education gave me an edge over the rest of the applicants who may be coming from a purely exercise physiology academic background.
Dr. Andrew Piazza Ph.D.: Given the explosion of remote work in the era of COVID-19, many employers who are forced to take their work online may question the need to return to in-person work after COVID becomes a distant memory. Also, computers and smartphones are now making their way into many households who did not previously have access to or were resistant to such technology. This means that the old assumption that lower-income or elderly clients don't have access to high-tech modes of communication might still be true, but should be assessed for each community, given ever-changing shifts in the availability of technology.
Keene State College
Keene State College Dietetic Internship
Stephanie Chmielecki: Dietitians of the future need to be agile; to speak confidently using evidence-based research, even as the research is still emerging; to respond quickly in a rapidly changing healthcare landscape. Dietitians need to be system thinkers; to make connections between individual action and action at the policy, systems, and environmental level, they need to build collaborative relationships and networks with other professionals, disciplines, and sectors. Dietitians need to be confident, lifelong learners that value.
Stephanie Chmielecki: Employment of dietitians seems to be consistently greatest in a handful of geographic regions, including New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, California, Boston, and the surrounding areas, the Mid-Atlantic region of Washington, D.C, Virginia, and Maryland as well as Texas and Florida.
Stephanie Chmielecki: The way we collect, access, and use data is changing. Dietitians, regardless of the scope of practice, will need to be digitally literate. Health care, including nutrition services, are becoming automated, through mobile applications or remotely through telehealth, and dietitians will need to be involved in the development of these technologies. While the use of the Electronic Health Record (EHR) has become standard, opportunities to positively affect public health through WIC/SNAP electronic benefit transfer, using data to track food-borne illnesses, and improve access to food and health care are also tools to ensure the health of communities. In higher education, educators are using learning management systems, and schools and hospitals are using complex software to track food delivery to students and patients. Mobile apps allow health care providers to work with individuals to monitor their food intake, physical activity, sleep hygiene, and blood glucose levels.
Dr. Colin Chesley: I used to say that healthcare was fairly inoculated from economic downturns, but the pandemic proved very different. With the suspension of elective procedures, and even some routine visits, many healthcare providers, within the entire industry, took drastic measures to reduce labor costs. Some measures included reduced pay (up to 50% reductions) for providers, furloughs for clinical staff, and layoffs of administrative personnel.
Healthcare jobs are still expected to grow over the next decade, and in fact, make-up 6 of the ten fastest-growing occupations projected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (https://www.bls.gov/news.release/ecopro.nr0.htm), even after the pandemic. I believe that finding jobs in the immediate post-pandemic world will be challenging, but I do not expect it to last. What the pandemic has taught us, however, is that no positions are completely immune from the economic downturn, and administrative jobs certainly were some of the first to be impacted.
Dr. Colin Chesley: Not necessarily. I have found that for healthcare administration graduates, especially, they need to be willing to relocate to whatever area of the country has an opportunity. It is very difficult to pick and choose an area for administration jobs. New graduates need to be willing to "pay their dues," then, after gaining experience and building their resumes, they may be a little pickier about where they locate.
Dr. Colin Chesley: Technology has impacted every field, and healthcare is no different. With the HITECH Act, many providers raced to realize the financial incentives of Electronic Health Records (EHR's). I believe that these platforms will continue to grow and that more systems will be intertwined into the EHR, including the medical records, administrative databases, etc.
Jeffrey Barker Ph.D.: In Healthcare Administration, we focus on basic business skills and then on specific areas common to both hospital administration and medical practices, including healthcare finance and accounting, facility planning and use, and healthcare management. Our graduates need strong data analysis skills in both types of employment, something we include in our undergraduate program and strongly emphasize in our graduate program. They also need knowledge of the regulatory and legal environment, which we provide. All of these areas are covered in coursework and in the required internships.
Jeffrey Barker Ph.D.: There is a demand for healthcare administrators in most parts of the country, but the healthcare employment sector has higher demands in areas with significant business growth that generates an influx of new workers, as well as areas with large and growing retiree populations. We have both of those factors in the Southeast, but they exist in the Southwest and some other areas as well.
Jeffrey Barker Ph.D.: Technology is impacting nearly every area. With the advent of the electronic medical record and the growing complexity and fast rate of change in the regulatory environment, graduates need strong technology skills. The areas that will maintain job growth will be those that bridge technology and the need for individualized human care, whether that is in ensuring positive results inpatient care or meeting the many demands of managing staff and complying with regulations and the law.
College of Health Sciences and Professions
Caroline Kingori Ph.D.: Yes, there will be an enduring impact due to the uncertainties that the pandemic has created in the economy. There may be limited job opportunities in certain sectors, e.g., corporate companies or academia. Another impact I have seen is on graduates who choose to pursue additional degrees. Funding for some graduate degrees has been cut due to budget constraints at universities, which has impacted the ability of graduates pursuing further education.
Caroline Kingori Ph.D.: New opportunities have emerged for contact tracers and epidemiologists at health departments. I think the key to finding jobs for graduates will be how open they are to starting anywhere in entry job positions as we wait and see how the pandemic behaves in the next few months.
Caroline Kingori Ph.D.: Technology has made it possible for people to work from home, which is great. People are even moving to suburbs from the city trying to find additional space and accommodate everyone within their family or networks, which have to work from home. Companies are also saving money when it comes to interviewing candidates because they do not have to incur travel expenses associated with interviewing candidates physically. The challenge with technology, however, is when it is unstable, have too many people on one network, or there is a power outage-it can interfere with productivity.
Dr. Gerard Magill Ph.D.: C19 will have an enduring impact for these reasons:
1. C19 is the first pandemic in a century that has gripped the nation and the globe. This presents the need to address population & global health in contrast to individual patient health.
2. Graduates will better appreciate the risk of future pandemics, especially in light of the Climate Crisis that is becoming worse, and this crisis facilitates viruses being spread from previously inaccessible parts of the world. Graduates will be better prepared to address future pandemics.
Dr. Gerard Magill Ph.D.: There are excellent career opportunities for our graduates, as follows:
1. Faculty positions for graduates in healthcare ethics / medical ethics are extensive in the academy, both at undergrad and grad education levels.
2. Professional functions for graduates as healthcare ethicists in health systems and large hospitals are regularly available.
Dr. Gerard Magill Ph.D.: Technology will impact the field in a pervasive manner in the next five years:
1. The dominance of biomedical technology will continue to demand sophisticated graduates, especially in the emerging field of genetic technology.
2. The emergence of big data, artificial intelligence, and machine learning will challenge graduates to remain updated promptly to address breakthroughs in these areas.
Montana State University
Department of Health and Human Development
J. Mitchell Vaterlaus Ph.D.: Emerging research on the pandemic indicates that there will be lasting economic and social impacts for individuals and families. This could mean that there will be greater demand for employees in the human service sector (e.g., case management, financial counseling, youth development, family support specialists). Graduates in Family and Consumer Sciences are equipped with the knowledge and skills to support families and individuals in human service positions.
There is also the opportunity for students to become Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) teachers (middle/high schools) - they must seek the secondary education pathway/qualify for teaching licensure in their state. There was a high demand for FCS teachers around the country prior to the pandemic. There will continue to be demand for these teachers as they support adolescents with career readiness and skills that prepare them for adulthood.
J. Mitchell Vaterlaus Ph.D.: Not really. Graduates can work for non-profits, governmental jobs, private organizations, etc. There are jobs for a lot of different places.
In terms of FCS teachers-there is a high demand nationwide.
J. Mitchell Vaterlaus Ph.D.: Reaching individuals and families all over is a goal of the field. Using technology can be a way to provide services for individuals and families in remote locations.
Also, educating the public regarding family and individual issues can be done via technology. It is likely that FCS graduates will need to know how to create community educational content that can be distributed through technology. They will also need to be able to use technology to evaluate the effectiveness of their community programming.
In terms of FCS teachers, there is always a need to enhance technology skills as new teaching technologies emerge. The pandemic highlighted the importance of preparing teachers to educate their students on a variety of topics, through distance education.
Clinical and Diagnostic Sciences
Christina Lim: As with any program, there will be an impact on the students during the coronavirus pandemic and the shift to online classes. However, this impact is more pronounced in classes that are traditionally face-to-face classes that cannot be easily moved online as a pre-recorded lecture. This includes laboratory classes, which are the heart of our program. The shift from face-to-face to hybrid online lab classes means that we have a group of students who must take the initiative to learn some of the materials using different methods on their own time, thereby improving their independence and resilience, two very important characteristics for working in healthcare. Students are also required to adapt to new ways of completing assignments and creating projects that are engaging while learning to work in an online setting.
This promotes the development of creativity and critical thinking. Furthermore, this pandemic has brought more attention to the medical and diagnostic laboratory science field and the importance of efficient and accurate testing, primarily shown with drive-through testing, which allowed for mass testing and contact tracing to slow down the spread of the pandemic. This truth provides our students with a greater appreciation for their critical role in the healthcare industry and can increase engagement and job satisfaction for graduates. It also strengthens students' resolve to complete their studies, to enter a healthcare profession, and to be a part of saving and improving lives. Radiologic Technologists work directly with patients.
Our recent graduates in Radiologic Technology obtain jobs in general radiography, which includes performing chest x-rays on patients who may have symptoms of COVID-19. While the current pandemic may have had an impact on a few graduates choosing to pursue other opportunities in radiology that do not have as much direct patient contact with symptomatic patients, all have appreciated their important role working in the frontline.
Christina Lim: There is an abundance of work nationwide for individuals with medical laboratory science, histotechnology, radiologic technology, and/or nuclear medicine technology degrees. Hospitals and outpatient labs are the most common areas for graduates in this field to work in. However, graduates are not limited to a hospital setting. From research labs to software development for hospital equipment and graduate schools, there is a need for workers with a background in the medical laboratory field and experience with the technology and equipment that are unique to this setting.
Christina Lim: Molecular technology and other automation are becoming more and more accessible and affordable for even smaller laboratories. Automation allows us to perform more testing daily with a faster turn around time to keep up with the demand. This is a positive addition to the medical laboratory, and we welcome it. While there are many areas that are becoming automated, there will always be a need for trained individuals to identify what computers cannot. Each human body and pathology is unique, and even technology requires a laboratory scientist to review that the results are accurate.
Overall, while technology is getting more and more integrated within healthcare, there will always be a need for medical laboratory scientists. In the field of radiologic technology, technology is advancing as well. Advances in digital radiography have significantly improved our image quality and our efficiency over the past 10-20 years. Recent improvements and advancements in computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging have greatly changed the way patients are diagnosed with disease all over the world. In the next five years, I believe we will hear more about artificial intelligence being utilized in medical imaging; specifically, how it is used to aid radiologists in the interpreting of diagnostic images.
Dr. Heidi Hancher-Rauch: I'm hopeful one enduring impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will be that decision-makers and legislators will better understand the importance of a robust public health workforce. We've seen what can happen when a plague hits at a time where our public health resources have been depleted. Once the epidemic subsided, maintaining the increased public health funding and workforce will be critical.
Dr. Heidi Hancher-Rauch: Traditionally, public health jobs have been easiest to secure on the east or west coast or near metropolitan areas that house larger health departments, hospitals, and non-profit organizations. However, all cities and towns need public health workers. One thing that has changed during the pandemic is that more public health jobs are available across the nation. Many of our program graduates, and even current MPH students, are finding jobs relevant to the pandemic response. These are not just jobs in epidemiology but also roles in health education, health policy, contact tracing, and data management.
Dr. Heidi Hancher-Rauch: Utilizing technology has become an essential skill for public health specialists during the pandemic, and that likely won't change in the future. Even those who were less comfortable with various forms of technology before March 2020 have been pushed to adapt and embrace new technological skills. Those preparing to enter the workforce should learn as much as possible about the various forms of technology used in the field currently, then highlight their skills on resumes and during interviews. Because so many public health leaders are overwhelmed with their work, they appreciate others who can step into professional roles without needing intensive training on technology use.
Dr. Julie Gast Ph.D.: Internships are required for most MPH degrees, and that is an excellent opportunity to network and let others know about the skills you have learned in your program, or your hard skills, your work ethic, and your soft skills (such as teamwork, communication, follow-through, ability to juggle multiple assignments). Take the internship and all networking opportunities seriously.
Dr. Julie Gast Ph.D.: For public health graduates, we learn that health communication is instrumental in effectively getting the word out for crisis management. I hope that students working in public health will recall the continued lessons we are learning from the pandemic. Yes, we have learned that remote work will become more of an expectation. There are training programs and certificates on how to be an efficient remote learner, and an excellent remote leader. Take advantage of these - they will make you stand out on a resume.
Dr. Julie Gast Ph.D.: For public health graduates, we learn that health communication is instrumental in effectively getting the word out for crisis management. I hope that students working in public health will recall the continued lessons we are learning from the pandemic. Yes, we have learned that remote work will become more of an expectation. There are training programs and certificates on how to be an efficient remote learner and an excellent remote leader. Take advantage of these - they will make you stand out on a resume.
DrPh Emmanuel Jadhav: Yes, there will be an enduring impact one way or another! There is an estimated urgent need for graduates of the bachelor and masters in public health programs from a workforce perspective. The pandemic has made it clear there are just not formally enough trained public health practitioners. Think about all the temporary re-assignments, double-responsibilities, and training that healthcare professions are taking on to meet the healthcare needs. I anticipate the role of the public health practitioner will become increasingly important in providing healthcare services.
DrPh Emmanuel Jadhav: Graduates of the public health program have a variety of employment opportunities. For example, our program graduates are employed locally and out of state, in organizations ranging from local health departments, public health advocacy agencies, hospitals, state and local government departments to academic institutions. So, in my opinion, there is no restricted right place per se for work opportunities.
DrPh Emmanuel Jadhav: Like all other work areas that technology has permeated, public health practice will be impacted no differently. Examples that come to mind are the automation of the 'contact tracing' process. During the pandemic, we have put to use our information and telecommunication technology to harness efficiencies in containing the spread of COVID-19. Think about all the apps that monitor personal health, the public health interventions driven by 'big data;' the list goes on. I envision that technology will positively impact the practice of public health in the coming future.