Business, engineering, computer science and health care are hot career fields for spring 2015

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Liberal arts majors need not panic

KINGSTON, R.I. – April 20, 2015 – If you are a senior majoring in business, engineering, computer science or health care disciplines, you’ll be in luck as you enter the job market after earning your college degree in May.

That’s according to Kimberly Stack, director of the Center for Career and Experiential Education at the University of Rhode Island, who explained that jobs in those areas are in demand across the country.

“Any computer technology-related skills are going to be high on an employer’s list,” said Stack. “The more technology-savvy students are the more attractive a candidate they are for any career.”

Stack said the demand for these careers is consistent nationally, but career demand varies by market. For example, Rhode Island is an excellent location for potential engineers. But other regions that may also be looking for engineers could be hotbeds for other industries, like California, which is home to many rapidly expanding technology companies.

“Health care is the largest industry sector in Rhode Island. It’s home to many leading hospitals and health care settings,” she continued, calling the state a “health care hub.”

Although computer science and health care are the hottest careers for May 2015 graduates, Stack said liberal arts majors need not panic. “Liberal arts degrees are in high demand because the liberal arts prepare students to participate fully in society.”

More than 70 percent of the 260 organizations surveyed in the National Association of Colleges and Employers “Job Outlook 2015” look for leadership, ability to work in a team, written communication skills, problem-solving and strong work ethic in college graduates. Other high-demand skills include organization, flexibility and friendliness. Stack called these “soft skills,” which are learned in the real world, as opposed to “hard skills” which are usually learned in the classroom and laboratory.

“The more we keep hearing from employers that soft skills are valuable to them, the more we know how valuable liberal arts are,” said Stack.

Stack’s best advice for getting a job is to do a “gap analysis.” “Look at job descriptions of jobs you want, find out what is missing from your resume, and make a plan to gain those skills before you graduate.” She said internships are a great way to gain those “gap skills,” as well as soft skills.

“Gaining practical experience through internships related to their ultimate career goals allows students to develop the skills necessary to be successful and network in their chosen industry,” said Stack. “The networking that happens during an internship is the ultimate strategy for job seekers.”

Six in 10 employers surveyed in the national association’s “Job Outlook 2015” prefer students to have internship or co-op work experience. The other 40 percent look for work experience, but have no preference for how students gain this experience.

Stack’s second recommendation to graduates seeking jobs is making the most of LinkedIn. “It’s vital that students develop their LinkedIn profiles before they graduate because alumni are committed to helping students from their alma mater. I think it’s the number one way students are going to find jobs,” she said.

“With 52,000 URI students and alumni on LinkedIn, it is the ideal place for graduates to network, inquire about opportunities, and seek introductions to other people who can help them.”

Stack said that the time it takes for graduates to find jobs varies by major.

“Students seeking positions in high-demand fields get jobs quickly, lower demand fields take a little longer.”

A preliminary survey of recent graduates from May 2014 shows that 75 percent of URI graduates were employed six months after graduation. “Twenty percent went onto graduate school,” said Stack. “That means 95 percent of our graduates are employed or continuing their education in graduate school. This is evidence that the job climate is nowhere near as bleak as people feel it is.”

As for graduate school, Stack recommended students wait until they find exactly what they want to do with their studies and how they want to apply them to their careers.

“Invest in graduate school when you know exactly what it is you hope to do. Wait until you have that fire in your belly,” she said. “Wait until you find your passion.”

Emma Clarke, an intern in the Department of Marketing and Communications and a public relations major, wrote this release.