Dear BI Career Consultants:
How has the war on terrorism and resulting slow economy affected career opportunities for college graduates/interns, and what do you see as the best career tracks for the immediate future?
It is important to note that even prior to Sept. 11 our recessionary economy had resulted in the loss of thousands of jobs. Since the terrorist attacks, the job market has weakened further, driven by increased layoffs and nearly a million underemployed Americans.
In the wake of the terrorist attacks the employment outlook for interns and college graduates in service sector professions, particularly in business and industry, is gloomy. New graduates are encouraged to be open and flexible in their career choices, as the terrorist attacks have resulted in a shift in our nations’ priorities. While job losses have occurred in virtually all sectors of the economy, more government jobs are available, for example, in immigration and foreign services.
The terrorist attacks that shattered the nation’s sense of invulnerability appear to have made security a hot career. Our emphasis on physical and information security promises growing opportunities for professionals who develop, implement and enforce security policy, as well as data security managers and systems engineers. The bungles and uncertainties associated with the anthrax exposures highlight the necessity for chemists, biologists and other applied scientists.
There is also an increased need for professionals who are bilingual, especially in Asian, Middle Eastern and Slavic languages. College graduates who have knowledge of other cultures also may be in demand. This could be good news for those with degrees in Anthropology, Geology and International Relations. Graduates with degrees in English and communications could be an employer’s greatest asset, as effective communication is essential in times of crisis.
The best career advice may be to keep your options open and be prepared to expand your horizons. n
Dr. Karen Eley Sanders
director, Center for Academic Enrichment and Excellence, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
In general, the war on terrorism and the downturn of the economy have caused some of the major corporations to curtail or cease recruitment on campuses. Thus, there will not be as many jobs available in the corporate sector for college graduates. However, there will likely be a growth in a broad spectrum of service areas including the medical field and human services. In addition, some jobs will be available with corporations that have government defense contracts..
However, rather than thinking about the scarcity of jobs, I see this as an excellent time for college graduates to pursue graduate and professional degrees. Those of us in higher education must seize this opportunity to recruit and provide avenues for college graduates of color to enroll in graduate and professional degree programs. We must prepare greater numbers of students of color for careers in higher education especially as faculty. We also should recruit those persons who have lost their jobs and provide them with opportunities to retool for careers in higher education. Now is the time to make it happen.
Dr. Mordean Taylor-Archer
Vice provost for diversity and equal opportunity, University of Louisville
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