As 2011 comes to a close, the economic situation remains bleak. Usually, graduate school applications rise during a depressed job market, but the ongoing uncertainty has discouraged some potential students from pursuing a graduate degree — MBA applications are down 10%, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Yet with the rise of social media and the rapid advance of technology — particularly mobile — there’s increased interest in more specialized graduate programs that give priority to certain skills and strategies. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that by 2018, more than 1.2 million new science, technology, engineering and math-related jobs will open up. This will have far reaching effects on the digital media industry. Professionals must keep up with the latest developments to stay relevant. So as you reevaluate your career path, here are five key predictions for how you should focus your career strategy in 2012.

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