January 11, 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.
Dennis Province Ph.D.: Trends indicate that the job market is definitely going digital. Virtual interviews and job fairs are much more common now.
Dennis Province Ph.D.: In the field of science, it is always a good idea to have all the skills that you can get. If you want to work in a microbiology lab, you should think about learning some chemistry or statistics. Important work never stays in one tiny corner of science; it bridges many fields and so should your skill set. People skills are also very important. Can you talk to people and communicate and listen to new ideas?
A gap year usually implies finding work as a research technician before applying to graduate or professional school. If this is the case, one question that employers and graduate programs have about their applicants are about their fitness: can they withstand the rigor at the next level? A recent graduate needs to show evidence that they are responsible and timely. The gap year should be filled with activities that show this.
Dennis Province Ph.D.: You never know where you will end up later in life and what skills you will need in the future. Open your mind and become a lifelong learner. Be a student of life and learn from others at every step of the journey. Employers are always looking for workers that show initiative. Decide where you want to work and what you think you might want to do and have the courage to contact someone, and let them know! Most jobs or opportunities are found and decided with an informal conversation. Employers want the best people and those tend to be type that take the initiative.
Department of Chemistry and Physical Science
Stephanie Hooper Marosek Ph.D.: I think the biggest trends will be more of a willingness for graduates to expand their geographic areas in which they are searching for jobs. For chemistry graduates, there will always be a job in a lab somewhere, but you must be willing to move for it. The less a graduate is limited by location, the higher their chances of employment. Another likely trend will be an increase in graduate school applications. With a decrease in certain job markets, graduates will return to higher education in pursuit of a master's or Ph.D. to improve their resume or C.V. Many chemistry graduate programs offer tuition remission and teaching stipends/assistantships, so this is a very viable option for recent graduates who are struggling to find employment as a chemist.
Stephanie Hooper Marosek Ph.D.: Skills that make recent chemistry graduates stand out are research experience, internships, part-time work in labs, and hands-on familiarity with certain types of preparation, techniques, and analysis equipment. Most jobs in the field of chemistry are for analysts, so the ability to understand and perform certain methods and analyze/interpret data is a valuable skill.
Stephanie Hooper Marosek Ph.D.: Places that are associated with research and development, pharmaceutical or biotech companies, or large research universities are likely to have positions available for laboratory analysts. For example, our graduates are fortunate that the Research Triangle Park in the Raleigh/Durham area is close by. There are many R&D, biotech, pharmaceutical, or similar types of labs in the surrounding areas that are often looking for entry-level chemists. If a graduate is not limited by geography, then they will be able to find employment as a chemist within a few months of graduation.