The Virtual CISO with Brandy Harris

Recruitment & Reskilling Strategy , Training & Security Leadership

The Widening Career Opportunities for New College Graduates

New Grads Can Analyze IoT Data, Bring Talent and Innovative Thinking to Workplace
The Widening Career Opportunities for New College Graduates

The technology sector is undergoing significant shifts and facing challenges such as high underemployment rates among recent graduates and substantial layoffs within traditional tech companies. Yet, these adversities provide hidden opportunities for both graduates and employers to adapt, innovate and excel. Technology-based organizations need to seize these possibilities to ensure they do not lag in the competitive race.

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A recent study conducted by The Burning Glass Institute and the Strada Institute for the Future of Work found that 52% of all four-year college graduates were underemployed -meaning in a job that did not require their degree - one year after graduation.

Unfortunately, the chances of escaping underemployment are low as 45% of graduates are still underemployed 10 years after graduation, according to the study. This highlights a systemic issue that transcends temporary market fluctuations. Although computer science majors fare slightly better, the narrative remains troubling, particularly for those who specialize in cybersecurity and face an industry rife with layoffs and uncertainty.

Expanding Horizons

There is hope! The conventional trajectory for tech graduates, which was once linear and confined to specific sectors, is diversifying. Industries previously considered peripheral to technology - such as food, hospitality and retail - are now actively recruiting tech talent for roles ranging from e-commerce managers to software engineers.

This trend is not merely anecdotal; it's quantifiable. Gusto reported an anticipated 9.6% increase in the employment of new graduates in the food sector and a 7.7% increase in retail. This significant pivot toward embedding technology across all business operations heralds a new era of career opportunities for tech graduates, challenging the status quo and expanding the horizons of what's possible.

The juxtaposition of cutbacks in traditional tech roles, especially in cybersecurity, and the expanding need for tech skills across various industries raises a critical question: How many exceptional potential employees are being overlooked, their talents untapped? The demand for a workforce skilled in cybersecurity is escalating, yet the job market's pace fails to match this urgency. Employers who bypass the fresh wave of graduates are not just overlooking potential talent; they're sidelining a host of strategic advantages that could propel their organizations forward.

Benefits of Hiring New Graduates

New graduates come equipped with not just theoretical knowledge but a propensity for innovation, unconstrained by the "This is how we've always done it" mindset. They can offer innovative solutions and creative ideas that stem from the latest academic research and methodologies. This infusion of new perspectives is crucial for fostering innovation and driving companies to explore new technologies, products and services that can keep them competitive.

Recent graduates are typically more adaptable. They are digital natives and have been exposed to the latest tools, programming languages and technological trends during their education. Employers that do not hire new graduates may find their workforce becoming stagnant, lacking in skills necessary to adapt to new advancements. This can hinder a company's ability to stay ahead in the tech industry, where the pace of innovation is relentless.

Investing in new graduates also can be a cost-effective recruitment strategy. Graduates typically command lower starting salaries compared to experienced hires, which allows companies to invest in their development and grow their skills to align with business needs. By not hiring graduates, companies may find themselves in a competitive market for experienced professionals, which will drive up recruitment costs and potentially lead to higher turnover rates if expectations do not align.

Graduates not only fill immediate roles but also represent the future of leadership and technical expertise within a company.

Perhaps most importantly, by not hiring new graduates, companies risk creating gaps in their talent pipeline. Graduates not only fill immediate roles but also represent the future of leadership and technical expertise within a company. As more experienced employees retire or move on, a lack of younger talent coming through the ranks can lead to significant knowledge and skills gaps, making it difficult for companies to maintain operational efficiency and innovate effectively. In critical fields such as cybersecurity, these gaps are not just inconvenient - they're potentially catastrophic.

Keeping Pace with IoT, AI Tech

The exponential growth of IoT devices, which is projected to reach tens of billions in the next few years, signifies a massive surge in data generation that will require advanced analytics, cybersecurity measures and innovative management strategies. This expansion is not confined to traditional tech sectors. It extends across manufacturing, healthcare, agriculture and urban development, among others. As IoT technologies become ubiquitous, tech proficiency across the board will be indispensable.

For recent graduates - particularly those with skills in cybersecurity, software development, data analysis and network engineering - the proliferation of IoT offers a plethora of opportunities. The demand for talent capable of designing, securing and managing IoT systems is set to skyrocket and infiltrate every sector of the economy. Graduates with interdisciplinary knowledge that combine technical expertise with insights into environmental, health or urban planning issues will be in demand.

Graduates will have even more opportunities and options. Love the theater but don't want to work for an actor's salary? How about designing the software that allows the show to run by pressing a button? Really vested in making this planet healthier? Design and secure IoT systems used in precision agriculture - devices that monitor soil health, water usage and crop conditions to optimize resource use and reduce environmental impact. Graduates with some education, experience and training in those two areas will be able to write their own tickets.

For employers, particularly those in technical fields, the competition for this new talent will be great, and the need to create a talent pipeline that is agile and innovative will be important. Forward-thinking companies will prioritize the integration of fresh graduates into their talent strategy as not merely a recruitment tactic but a fundamental component of future-proofing their operations.

Cybersecurity companies: Don't miss out on the benefits of hiring new graduates.

About the Author

Brandy Harris

Brandy Harris

Director, Learning And Organizational Development,

Harris has more than 20 years of experience in education and is dedicated to evolving the cybersecurity workforce. She develops and evaluates cybersecurity programs. Harris promotes diversity and inclusion in cybersecurity by fostering collaboration between industry and academia, aiming to bridge the talent gap and drive positive change. She previously served as assistant dean and faculty member in the graduate cybersecurity program at Grand Canyon University.

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