November 16, 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.
Indiana University Southeast
University of Kansas
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey - Newark
University of Nebraska - Lincoln
Binghamton University, SUNY
The Ohio State University at Lima
Bowling Green State University
North Carolina Central University
University of Minnesota
Carson-Newman a Christian University
Northwestern State University
Western Illinois University
American Public University System
ASHI - American Society of Home Inspectors
Forsyth County, Georgia
Dr. Mindy Badía Ph.D.: The three P's: be patient, be persistent, and be prepared.
Dr. Mindy Badía Ph.D.: I would say information/communication technologies.
Dr. Mindy Badía Ph.D.: Starting salaries of International Studies graduates tend to be on par with, or higher than, graduates in similar fields in the Social Sciences or the Humanities. Proficiency in a second language increases employability and salary prospects for most graduates, and this is especially true for candidates with a degree in International Studies. Most careers in International Studies have many opportunities for advancement, and graduates can expect to see their salaries increase as they gain experience.
Cari Ann Kreienhop: This is a tricky question because organizations can be focused on very different things in a given hiring search. I think what should be important to applicants in crafting their application materials is that they highlight their experience and achievements and highlight these attributes within the context of the organization's mission and strategic plan. The resume is the blueprint of how an applicant can fit into and contribute to an organization's growth; if the applicant doesn't take the time to match their resume experience to the job posting, hiring managers aren't going to take the extra time to read between the lines.
Cari Ann Kreienhop: Direct experience in public service entities is excellent and isn't impossible to access. Many public sector organizations offer internship opportunities or have spots open for students and recent graduates to serve on community commissions or steering committees. This kind of experience is just as valuable for the job-seeker to clarify what professional path best suits their values as it is for the organization they are serving.
From a credential standpoint, seeking procurement training, data analytics (more on this below), project management, and graphic design will build skills that can either be an unconventional route into a public entity (mainly thinking of procurement and graphic design) or skills that allow for accelerated advancement (again, procurement, project management, and data analytics).
Cari Ann Kreienhop: I posed this question to our alumni in the field and received the response that GIS (ESRI) and Smart City technologies like Advanced Meter Reading (Xylem/Sensus is a big brand name in the water sector, for example) are the most likely evolving platforms and uses they will encounter. Additionally, it's essential to keep abreast of thematic trends related to technology: an awareness of cybersecurity threats, best practices, and defensive tactics. Understanding the language, concepts, and strategies to manage better, and support IT, and protect the organization is critical.
Beyond specific technology, leaning into logical analysis and data-gathering skills are critical to bringing a well-rounded perspective into an organization. Mastering Excel and R are great for hitting the ground running in an organization, but being versatile and savvy with data analytics will be an asset to any organization.
Margery Amdur: Students need to be far more self-sufficient, curious, and persistent. They need to surround themselves with others who are driven. They also need to be grateful if they get a job offer. It will put them on a path. "On a path" is better than not being on a track.
Resilience and the willingness to be vulnerable continue to be critical mantras!
I know this doesn't have anything to do with technology, but attaining skills that reside outside of the academy will serve all of us!
Dr. Kate Seltzer Ph.D.: Overall, my advice to a graduate starting their career in education would be to reflect deeply on their stance - their core beliefs and philosophy about teaching more generally. Educational policies change all the time, what we call "best practices" change. But developing a strong stance, rooted in care and regard for students, their families, and the community, will help graduates navigate these changes while staying true to what matters.
Dr. Kate Seltzer Ph.D.: I think the pandemic we live through will fundamentally change how schools manage to learn in the next 3-5 years. More platforms are available, more "tools" and "strategies" for virtual learning, and more emphasis on the benefits of hybrid instruction. I think, to go back to my answer to the first question, if graduates can focus on building relationships with their students, developing a strong foundation in their content area, and finding teaching approaches - both virtual and more traditional - that engage and respond to students' lives and interests, they can learn any new technologies.
Dr. Kate Seltzer Ph.D.: Educators are not paid nearly enough. However, working in a state with strong teachers' unions helps to ensure a starting salary that recent graduates can live off of and growth opportunities, albeit modest, over their careers.
Ng'ang'a Muchiri: That storytelling and the power of persuasion are so incredibly vital today. Just think of Netflix, Instagram, advertising, political rhetoric, and the behavioral changes encouraged in public health announcements.
Ng'ang'a Muchiri: I think the synergy between AI, machine learning, and the humanities, in general, will be exciting. There are whole product lines and industries currently just beyond our reach.
Ng'ang'a Muchiri: Initial salary prospects in the Humanities, in general, and English, in particular, trail those in finance, law, medicine, STEM. But I also think the massive paradigm shifts that emerge from creativity within the Humanities CAN rake in a substantial payday. For instance, Shonda Rhimes signing a 9-figure contract with Netflix. Of course, such windfalls are few and far between.
Binghamton University, SUNY
Department of Teaching, Learning and Educational Leadership
Matthew McConn: It's best to be fully certified before you sit for an interview. That means completing the EdTPA and all certification exams. Students tend to put off the EdTPA portfolio, and it hurts their chances when interviewed, since administrators would have to risk the applicant not passing their exam. However, during the pandemic, there have been some alternative options for candidates, so I would strongly recommend they familiarize themselves with those alternatives.
Matthew McConn: If this pandemic has shown us anything, it's that in-person teaching is an integral part of learning and our community.
Matthew McConn: Here, in the state of New York, I think the salaries are competitive, depending on where you live.
Leah Herner-Patnode: Graduates in the field of education need to understand platforms such as Google Classroom. Even when things get better with Covid, many schools will still use this as a supplement. They also have to be aware of how to find appropriate sources. The days of just accepting the history textbooks are gone. Using primary sources is very important, and a skill teachers need to teach to students.
Leah Herner-Patnode: Usually, urban areas of bigger cities and southern states, such as North Carolina, have many openings. Maine, Florida, California, Hawaii, Washington, and Texas are the most open positions.
Leah Herner-Patnode: Technology and how to use it in a classroom is essential. How to find reputable sources is necessary. How to use Schoology and Google Classroom are tools that will help any educator succeed. Teaching children to code is also an important skill to cultivate.
Jennifer Wagner: In my opinion, we have a strong alumni base in the following companies: Brookdale Assisted Living, Promedica/Heartland (in the Toledo area, most of the Heartland Nursing Homes were bought by Promedica), Sprenger Health Care, Otterbein Senior Life, which just merged with Sunset Communities (Toledo and Sylvania, OH (both companies have a strong alumni base)), HCF Management, CHI Living Communities, and Ohio Living. These companies have a strong commitment to educating the next generation of administrators and other health care managers. These companies recognize talent and develop that talent; most of these companies hire our students after completing their internship after the significant investment they made in our students.
Jennifer Wagner: I have been on several webinars with NAB, McKnights, and ACHCA since the pandemic began. I am also on several social media sites for administrators and assisted living administrators. In my opinion, there will be a great demand for health care professionals in general, but long-term professionals, especially. With baby boomers retiring, we were already approaching a high demand for professionals.
With the pandemic, we see early retirements, people returning to school for master's degrees to climb the corporate ladder, get out of the day to day operations, and just plain old burnout. The pandemic has hard hit the nursing home industry. Employees can earn more money on unemployment, and they can easily find other service-related jobs making the same amount of money, working fewer hours, and less stress.
We cannot forget the fear, anxiety, and the weekly, or more often, Covid tests that our staff has to endure. There is still a critical shortage of PPE in long term care. From what I am hearing from industry leaders and regulatory agencies, if new grads and interns can learn to navigate this pandemic and the ever-changing regulations, they will not only be an asset to the profession, but they will be in high demand.
Jennifer Wagner: Sorry, I can only make an educated guess here, but the state's hardest hit by Covid will be in the highest demand for all health care professionals. As healthcare changes the way it does business, with more telehealth and more remote services, I think we will see an increase in demand for this generation of college graduates. They had an edge on all of us with technology before the pandemic, but switching to remote learning models over the last year, they have become technology experts.
I can give you a couple of examples from the two courses that I teach. I am a strong advocate for service-learning pedagogy (style of learning). My goal is to get students early exposure to real-world situations. In one class, my students have been creating Zoom group activities for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities living in residential group home settings. The residents have been isolated, and they are eager to engage in activities with new people, even remotely. In another class, my students are paired with senior center clients diagnosed with dementia and are cared for at home by family and friends.
These are individual activities where the student again uses Zoom to come up with particular actions to help give the caregiver a much-needed break for 30 minutes once a week. Our community partners and the people they serve are excited to have these new contacts in both classes. It is something for them to look forward to and gives them new experiences to share with their families. The students, too, are loving the experience and learning firsthand the effects of quarantine and isolation on high-risk populations.
Elisha Blankson: Graduates will need a skill set about the field in which they received training and additional skills useful to the job market. For example, with the changing demographics in the United States, extra skills in information technology and foreign languages will be a plus when entering the job market.
Elisha Blankson: The job market for speech therapists is robust in North Carolina and other states like California, Texas, New York, and other countries where there is changing demographics due to migrants living in the diaspora. Bilingual therapists are in great need due to migrations.
Elisha Blankson: With the advent of the Covid 19 pandemic, technology is being employed expansively in our field to make up for the deficits in direct, face-to-face intervention. Teletherapy has become very popular and is being used to make up for the shortage of direct intervention. Students who receive training in teletherapy, before they enter the job market, will do very well.
Robert Henery Ph.D.: So, a few skills are constant for our soon to be licensed special educators, a few depend on their licensure area. All need to be able to create dynamic, rigorous, and engaging instruction. Additionally, schools and districts want candidates with experience working with diverse student populations, have cultural awareness and competence included in their education, and have experience successfully implementing effective academic and behavior interventions. Candidates also need to be fully prepared to tackle the due process requirements of the job, including being able to administer assessments, collect data, create individualized education plans (IEPs), and ESRs, FBAs, and BIPs.
Robert Henery Ph.D.: Licensed special education teachers will easily find a job anywhere in the country they wish to seek employment. It is not a question of finding a job, but rather which position you want to take. At any point in the school calendar cycle, numerous unique education teacher postings can be found in almost any school district; the need is that great. We have had our exceptional education teacher candidates flip over their badges at job fairs, identifying them as outstanding educators. They were immediately being pressured into job interviews on the spot. The thirst is real.
Robert Henery Ph.D.: The pandemic has accelerated the need for competence in using technology. Hopefully, the epidemic will be a temporary event. Still, school districts have realized, more than ever before, that they need to hire teachers that are not only comfortable using technology but can leverage the use of technology in the classroom in new and dynamic ways. In special education, that means using technology for instructional purposes and as practical support for our students with disabilities.
Overall, we do not see any diminishment in need of new special education teachers. If anything, the demand is even greater.
Philip Bailey: I am telling new graduates to find ways to set yourself apart from other recent graduates. In this pandemic, I am encouraging my students to seek external certifications in marketing in various social media areas. These certifications are not very expensive. The graduates can make investments of time to enhance their professional skills while seeking employment. I am also encouraging some to return to school and acquire their master's degree. Now, is the time to prepare for the economy that will emerge from the pandemic.
Philip Bailey: The full integration of AI, even in small marketing firms, is very likely. As the capabilities of AI continue to evolve, marketers will exploit the opportunities to connect with their customers and maximize the delivery of the highly customized content at the moment the customer needs the information. This trend will allow for more advertising while decreasing customer resistance to the advertisements.
Philip Bailey: The starting salaries in entry-level marketing jobs are very comparable to other professional careers. The entry-level jobs usually have a modest salary with good benefits. I encourage our graduates to sharpen their skills in these jobs for about 18 months, and then move on to more responsibilities and more money. This industry reward success and experience. As the number of opportunities increased, the entry-level positions have more experienced marketing manager positions. The outlook for marketing as a long-term career is bright indeed.
Northwestern State University
School of Allied Health
Angela McKnight: Experience in various settings (ex. acute care settings), in a variety of departments, and a variety of radiologic sciences modalities (CT, MRI, interventional, mammography).
Angela McKnight: Radiologic Sciences is ever-evolving with new and improved cutting-edge technology. New technologies allow for greater efficiency, lower public and occupational radiation dose, and enhanced image quality. This improves patient care and diagnosis, and it also makes radiologic sciences increasingly useful in healthcare. While it improves efficiency, it can also increase the need or use of imaging, which drives demand in the workforce. A Radiologic Sciences professional's job is not only to operate the equipment but (and possibly most importantly) to communicate with, care for, and position the patients to achieve high-quality diagnostic studies. This requires extensive knowledge of anatomy and hands-on training. Radiologic Sciences is as much an art as a science, and people are the driving force.
Angela McKnight: The impacts of coronavirus on the healthcare industry will be studied for years to come. That said, I believe we will find that students who were in school or nearing graduation during this pandemic have shown remarkable resilience. Students nearing graduation are under a considerable amount of stress under normal circumstances. Students are completing their course requirements for graduation, scheduling to take the national registry, bringing the national registry, and job hunting during a pandemic would undoubtedly add pressure to graduates. I believe that looking forward; graduates will have a more sensible and realistic outlook on universal precautions and have a greater sense of purpose to help others.
Also, these graduates' job market should be stable in the Radiologic Sciences field, since health care workers are needed now more than ever. Because imaging sciences help evaluate the short- and long-term effects in coronavirus patients and survivors, it is incredibly relevant to fighting the pandemic.
Western Illinois University
Dr. Richard Filipink Ph.D.: An emphasis on remote work skills and adaptability. The ability to professionally use Zoom, Google Meets, Microsoft Teams, and the like will become a fundamental skill for word processing. Being willing and able to alternate from an office to a home work site will become more of a norm.
Dr. Richard Filipink Ph.D.: Everyone will need hardware to run the meetings software and the bandwidth to maintain it. An increase in laptop/desktop preference for home use, as your phone won't be enough to conduct much of your work function.
Dr. Richard Filipink Ph.D.: Much of this depends on budgets and response to the pandemic. If budgets tighten to pay off the debts caused by how the epidemic was handled in 2020, then a decrease in demand. If things improve in 2021-22, then there should be an increase in demand.
American Public University System
Public Administration Department
Dr. Elizabeth Keavney Ph.D.: The ability to examine all sides of an issue, to include long-term consequences and short-term consequences and unintended consequences and intended outcomes is vital. A focus on goals and objectives, instead of depending on an emotional response, will help lead to the best solutions. Public servants should be adaptable and able to work with people from various cultures. They need to have an understanding of how to work with and motivate individuals and groups. Those who can stay engaged and exercise good judgment will fare best in fluid and changing times.
Dr. Elizabeth Keavney Ph.D.: Some areas are hiring public servants around the United States; however, many places are cutting back, since so many sites had experienced budget cuts, even before COVID-19 lockdowns caused further revenue reductions. If you can't find a full-time job right away, try taking a part-time job, an internship, or a position with a non-profit as a way to continue learning and to give yourself a chance to show the quality of your work.
Dr. Elizabeth Keavney Ph.D.: COVID-19 has increased the number of people who are working at home. This means a solid basic knowledge of telecommuting, and the ability to work unsupervised will be necessary. The ability to use remote security protocols, the cloud, and various software platforms will be required.
Bruce Barker: Building inspection (both private and public) is often a second or subsequent career for many. It is uncommon to become a building inspector right out of school, to the best of my knowledge. It is more common for public building inspectors to start in the trades or as contractors. Private building inspectors can come from many professions. I came from accounting and consulting before becoming a contractor, then a private inspector.
The market for building inspectors is, and will probably continue to be, both cyclical and local. Demand increases when housing and the economy are fair, and demand decreases when housing and the economy are not suitable. For example, many private inspectors went out of business during the financial crisis around 2009. There were layoffs in the public sector too. Right now, there is a high demand for both private and public inspectors. Whether this demand continues, depends on the economy and housing in a given region.
Bruce Barker: Good communication skills, both verbal and written, are essential for anyone entering the workforce, no matter their field. Lack of communication skills is a common problem with new graduates. Good people skills are also necessary, especially for home inspectors. Home inspectors need to sell themselves and their services every day. Essential business management skills are crucial for home inspectors. Home inspection businesses tend to fail, due to poor business management, rather than poor inspection skills. Excellent working knowledge of construction and building codes is essential, especially for government inspectors. They must know building codes to enforce them.
Bruce Barker: Look for migration trends to find profitable markets for building inspectors. Cities to which people are moving are usually profitable job markets. Specific cities can change over time, but in general, the southeast and west are places where people are moving.
Dr. Deirdre Donovan: Entering the workforce in 2020 will require a flexible skillset. Problem-solving, technology, and team-building skills will be at the forefront of this hiring season. Mathematics and data science students are uniquely educated to meet this challenge. The disciplines are built on mathematical problem solving and using technology to aid in the process.
Dr. Deirdre Donovan: Whether this question asks about physical locations, or online locations, or the economy sectors: to answer all of those, the key is analytics. Most industries turn to data to make decisions that will only grow to help manage pandemic related challenges. Every sector of the economy is using data to guide decisions. Young graduates bring fresh ideas and skills to every problem presented. The key for young grads is networking anywhere and everywhere, ensuring one's value is seen by hiring managers.
Dr. Deirdre Donovan: Math and data science are already technology-driven fields. The pandemic and Zoom culture will only accelerate the proliferation of technology to other aspects of the industry. Remote work and virtual software will become the norm as more and more companies turn to data to stay ahead.
Donna Kukarola: Without a doubt, the need for computer literacy will continue to expand, the ability to work with people, communication skills, being a team member/collaborative. So, in other words, many of the "soft" skills will need the skills they trained for their industry/vocation.
Donna Kukarola: This one, not so sure of, the southeast continues to see options as well as mid-western states.
Donna Kukarola: The procurement field is an opportunity; each day will have its own set of challenges and opportunities. Obtaining the right item/service at the right time, at the right price, is not all that procurement does. They are strategic members, sourcing, timing, keeping up with trends, laws, best practices, and advising that the resource desired is already available!
This year, entering the workforce will be different for many interviews to be held electronically - even, perhaps, teleworking when they get the job. Training is a bit more of a challenge then, and it can be hard to get a real feel of the "attitude." Keeping an open mind and being flexible is a must; during this pandemic, we have all had to learn how to do our jobs differently and navigate our careers.
Del Ross: Embrace change. The only certainty about the future is that tomorrow's world will look much different than today's. This applies to the hotel and travel industries and to pretty much everything else. Guest expectations will change. Technology will change. The employer and employee experiences will vary - this may prove difficult, but much of it will be for the better. If you expect to change, you will be better prepared to handle it when it happens.
Del Ross: 3-5 years is an eternity in technology. Even so, we should expect that tomorrow's technology will be much "smarter" than today's. This will show up mainly in tech's ability to predict future conditions and to anticipate scenarios, needs, opportunities, and challenges. We will continue to see significant changes in guest-facing technologies from how they shop and buy travel, how they pay for it, and how they consume it. Guests will assume that hoteliers will anticipate their needs and preferences and tailor the experience's delivery to reflect them - all without even being recognized for doing so.
On the operations side, smarter technology will replace old-school, "the way we have always done it" processes and programs in every area. Front desk, housekeeping, maintenance, F&B, back-office - every one of these areas will be directed and enabled by data-driven technology in ways that we could not have anticipated just a few years ago. This will make the workplace more efficient but may make individual jobs more complicated. Managers will have to be taught new ways to support and develop their associates to attract, retain, and deploy effective teams. "Simple" tasks such as weekly labor scheduling will use automated systems like Hotel Effectiveness to save time, improve productivity, and turn cost centers into profit drivers.
Del Ross: In 2019, the Assistant General Manager position was one of the highest turnover roles in every hotel. With low unemployment, tomorrow's industry leaders' best and brightest were routinely leaving the hotel business to pursue careers in other areas. As a result, there will be many opportunities for new graduates and increased competition for this talent as the economy and the hotel business recovers from COVID19. While starting salaries and wage rates for hotel staff will remain low, compared to other industries, new hires' growth potential will be unprecedented. We expect a modest increase in starting wages over the next 24 months, followed by an acceleration of the promotion cycle to fill the gap in management depth created before the pandemic even began.
Claire Strom Ph.D.: I don't read resumes, but I would argue that a graduate needs to narrate their college experiences effectively and talk about them in terms of skills gained.
Claire Strom Ph.D.: Gaining more facility with computers will always be beneficial-as we have all found out during the pandemic. Generally, however, I encourage students to use a gap year to have adventures and do things out-of-the-ordinary. Students are focused on their trajectory for all their lives and a gap year provides an unusual opportunity to do something different. In my experience, such adventures always prove fruitful and helpful, although it is never clear how until they are over. Thus, I would suggest AmeriCorps, VISTA, teaching abroad, and other related activities.
Claire Strom Ph.D.: The benefits and detriments of remote work have become much more apparent over the last few months. Luckily, upcoming graduates have had plenty of opportunities to master the necessary technologies.