Career Calling

August 1, 2013

College Degrees and Experience

I’ve written about these topics before, but two recent client comments told me that it might be time to look at them again.  One client who has been working in fields that are below his skill level told me that his humanities degree was “worthless.”  I reminded him that most Americans (fewer than 35%) have college degrees.  Employers look at college degrees as a marker of knowledge and discipline.  Many value applicants with humanities degrees because they tend to be better thinkers and often have better communication skills.  Rather than look at his degree as “worthless,” I persuaded my client that it will help him find a job.

Today a client who just graduated from a science program told me that she had no experience.  Almost every new graduate feels the same way.  What they forget is the value of knowledge.  School teaches us concepts that we will use on the job.  Most programs also offer some kind of hands-on experience in the classroom, labs, or internships.  The client who claimed to have no experience actually worked in labs for four years while pursuing her degree.  She used equipment and performed tests that were listed on every job post she brought as examples of jobs she wished to pursue.  Experience does not only come on the job.  It can come in a classroom, lab, or field exercise.  If you’re a new graduate, start by looking at what the employer needs and how your education has given you knowledge and skill needed to be a strong candidate.

If you’re a new graduate, don’t despair about a weak degree or lack of experience.  Be practical and find a way to market what you learned in college.  It has value.

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