College students: you’ve been misled; employers don’t care about the courses you’ve taken, or even, in most cases, your GPA. Saavy college students prepare to get hired by learning what employers are looking for, and it’s got nothing to do with what you’ve been concerned with throughout your life as a student.
Students are understandably concerned with their grades while in school, and that concern remains important for those considering graduate programs. However, they are mistaken if they believe that employers put much stock in their GPA. While a 4.0 is impressive, the fact is that one’s GPA isn’t a predictor of success in the workplace; all it demonstrates is that a student knows how to write papers and take tests. As Lazlo Bock at Google noted, “GPAs are worthless as a criteria for hiring…”
When employers hire for senior level positions, they examine resumes for a coherent value proposition represented by the skills or experience that the candidate brings to the table. But when they hire for entry-level roles, they are looking for potential. So, how can college students demonstrate that potential? There are two options here: one is to participate in internships at organizations that align with the student’s target profession. Internships demonstrate to employers that recent graduates have real world experience not only in their field, but in working collaboratively with others. To be sure, most interns are given fairly low-level tasks, but they are exposed to how business is actually conducted, and often shadow managers as they conduct day-to-day operations. And arguably the greatest benefit of internships is forging meaningful networking connections that may have significant impact as a tyro’s career progresses.
But what about those who need to earn an income while working toward their degree? For those students, their wages from service level jobs rather than unpaid internships may be the only way they can afford to study. So, how do those college students prepare to get hired? That is where the second option for showcasing their work kicks in. Students may not realize that intensive projects undertaken with student peers in some of their courses belong on their resumes, as they provide employers insight into their ability to cooperate to get done what needs to be done. Therefore, students should seek out courses with curricula where group projects are integral to the class, and articulate their potential with bullet points that touch on the contributions they made during group projects, as well as the outcomes. Therefore, well before graduation, college students should prepare to get hired by keeping a record of these accomplishments.
A not insignificant controversy associated with unpaid student internships is that mostly students of privilege can take advantage of what is increasingly a necessary prerequisite to getting hired. An article written by members of the Economic Policy Institute referenced studies that “revealed that half of all college graduate hires had previously interned at the firm where they were hired…and that 76 percent of firms reported relevant work experience as the primary factor that influences their hiring decisions.” Given this reality, lower income students may in fact be disadvantaged by the emphasis on internships. There are some scholarship opportunities available for these students, but the playing field is not as level as it ought to be. Until things change, students can be proud of the grit and determination displayed by working service levels to help fund their education. Employers – take notice of these job candidates as well.
Smart college students prepare to get hired by employing these strategies well before graduation. Need help? Let’s talk