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Posts tagged ‘degree’

Your Class Schedule Isn’t Enough to Get You a Job

99% of resumes divide their information into two sections: Education and Work Experience. There’s a reason for this. Potential employers want to know about your education to see what your interests are, what your talents are, if you’re generally pretty smart, and if you have a nice looking institution to put next to your name. They want to know about your work experience so they can tell how you’re able to handle the day-to-day responsibilities of a workplace and if you can meet the minimum requirements of the job.

iStock_000009629000XSmall In other words, employers look at your education to know who you are. They look at your work experience, on the other hand, to see what it is you can do.

Despite this visible distinction right on the resume, many entry-level applicants, especially the ones who have impressive higher education credentials, think leaning on their education will be good enough.

I don’t care if you aced all your classes at Harvard. If you aren’t showing off outside interests, experience, or ambition, you’re not offering your employer very much at all.

So how do you fill out those non-education chunks of the resume? By volunteering, working odd jobs, and extracurriculars. I’m sure you’ve heard this advice before, but I’m going to try to be as crudely practical about it, based on my observations, as I can. Hopefully that’ll provide a fresh perspective.

Volunteering. Aside from all the good altruistic reasons for volunteering, from a purely strategic perspective, volunteering is a great way of getting work experience without competing for the job position beforehand. It doesn’t matter all that much what you’re doing, but if you want to show that you can show up to work on time, follow instructions, and work well in a group, give up a few hours to a soup kitchen, a youth group, or whatever other charitable labor you can find.

Working odd jobs. Work experience doesn’t have to mean a corporate position with benefits, 401(k)s, and regular salaries. Anything you can get paid for doing (as long as it’s legal) counts as a job. So if you need to show that you can hold your own in a professional setting, mow some lawns, paint some houses, or weed some garden beds. If you do it enough times over the course of a couple months, then you’re technically “freelance.”

Extracurriculars. After your first one or two jobs, the structured things you did with your spare time aren’t going to matter very much. You’ll probably cut them out of your resume altogether. However, before that first job, the extracurriculars are not optional. They’re an essential part to the overall story of you as a professional. Whatever field you want to work in, you’ll need to prove that your interest in it runs deeper than the minimum credits required to get your degree. And you’ll need these extracurriculars, once again, to show off your ability to handle the basics of a professional setting: showing up on time, handling responsibilities, and working well with others.

It’s Better to Drop Out Than to Never Try, Says Study

A four-year college degree isn’t for everybody. I’d be reluctant to even say it’s for most people. However, everybody needs and deserves education. Our society just needs to do a better job recognizing the validity of the huge variety of types of education for different types of people, interests, and careers.

I know a lot of people who went to college, but I know less people who have diplomas stuffed in a drawer somewhere. And that’s totally fine.

Now we have proof that this is totally fine, found in a paper from economic think tank the Hamilton Project. Turns out the boost to your lifetime salary received from even a little college experience significantly exceeds the amount you spend to attend. (Students with some college experience earn $100,000 more over the course of their lifetimes than students who have none.) If you’re looking at higher education as an investment into a future career, it’s worth getting any amount you can pull off.

Naturally, if you’re looking at this purely in terms of numbers, a degree still helps a lot more. Students with bachelor’s degrees earn $500,000 more in their lifetimes than students who end their education after high school.

However, let’s say you’re a struggling high school senior who knows he can make it into college, but isn’t sure if he can make it through. Pursuing a degree isn’t an all or nothing proposition. Getting half a degree still leaves you with half of what you’d learn if you hadn’t tried at all. And that will have some impact on what opportunities you get once you enter the workforce.

Ever heard anyone say, “Reach for the moon. Even if you don’t make it, you’ll land among the stars”? If you can ignore the horribly inaccurate astronomy, it’s still advice worth thinking about.

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