AI in the workplace: What college grads should know

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By Chloe Smith

Artificial intelligence has become integral to America’s workplaces. With AI algorithms reaching new groups of workers, college-educated and higher-wage jobs now risk the most exposure. The question of how this will impact college graduates looking to enter the workforce arises. 

“AI is a transformational technology,” Hilke Schellmann, an Emmy-winning investigative reporter and journalism professor at New York University said. “It can really help us in a lot of ways, but it can also harm people.”

According to a recent report by the Pew Research Center, workers with a bachelor’s degree or higher are more than twice as likely as those with a high school diploma only to see the most exposure to AI.  Exposure, meaning the likelihood that the activities workers perform on their jobs may be replaced or aided by artificial intelligence (Pew Research Center).

“The algorithm is becoming more and more complex,” Dr. Huang, a Flagler College data science professor said. “You can think of a machine getting more and more smart.”

As AI progresses, experts say to expect interaction with it in the job application process and beyond.

“Companies have started using these tools because many of them get thousands, hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions of applications,” Schellmann said. “And what we’ve seen is that 99% of Fortune 500 companies use algorithms somewhere along the hiring funnel.”

Most of the largest U.S. companies now use various AI-powered talent assessment tools throughout their hiring process, whether during screening, sourcing, interviewing, or background checks. These tools include facial analysis, contextual weighted keywords, resume parsers and more.

Unfortunately, many of these AI algorithms are indicating significant gender and racial discrimination. 

“In one tool, Kenneth Willner, one of the employment lawyers, found that folks who had the word baseball on their resume got more points,” Schellmann said. “People who had the word softball on their resumes got fewer points. So we found again and again some of these really problematic keywords that are being used.”

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Job security is another significant concern regarding AI exposure in the workplace, as automation has already phased out many manufacturing jobs.

According to a report by Goldman Sachs, AI could replace the equivalent of 300 million full-time jobs by 2030. 

“You never want to hear that a person is losing their job, especially to technology or robots or anything like that,” Vernita Bowens, director of the Career Development Center at Flagler said.

While AI has and will continue to replace many jobs, the technology will also create more opportunities for growth in various new industries and careers. AI is revolutionizing finance, healthcare, agriculture, energy and numerous other industries while producing never-before-seen jobs and careers.

“So the market is not worse,” Bowens said. “It’s just changing. And we have to keep up with what’s changing. We have to keep up with the skills that employers are asking for.”

Besides transforming America’s job market, AI has exponentially enhanced productivity and reduced the workload for many U.S. workers today. 

Dr. Huang describes how, in some cases, AI has replaced the beginning, labor-intensive part of people’s work. 

“Now your productivity can be more on the high end of the job,” Huang said. “It’s like, okay, I’m trying to clean the house, right? So if I have a robot do the basic cleaning for me, now I won’t have to dust. I still, at the end of the day, finish cleaning the house, but it’s a mix of AI and my work together.”

To guarantee success in America’s changing workplaces, Huang suggests college graduates entering the workforce alter their expectations and prepare for adaptation and change.

“If I know how to ride the wave of the AI, I may get more out of it,” Huang said. “Versus saying, ‘I want to stay on the shore. I don’t want to get my feet wet.’ If that’s your attitude, then you may find your future job to be very challenging.”

Schellmann shared tips on how to stand out when applying to an AI-driven workplace, such as practicing one-way video interviews and ensuring resumes are machine-readable and include a special skills section. She also recommended sending emails beforehand to any recruiting names or familiar faces within the company to bypass the algorithm. 

“Also, don’t have more than a six-month break in your resume,” Schellmann said. “Because we’ve known from surveys of executives that about 50% of the tools throw out people that have more than a six-month gap.”

Exposure to AI in the workplace is becoming inevitable, and college graduates who plan to enter the workforce must prepare to manage its benefits and drawbacks. 

“We also have to hold AI accountable because AI now makes very high-stakes, powerful decisions on humans,” Schellmann said. “And that’s not part of our mandate.”

To learn more about Schellmann on AI in the workplace, visit

For help with career development, visit

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