Entering postsecondary is an exciting new chapter for many. Everyone has a different route and there is no such thing as the right way to live your postsecondary career. You may choose to pursue your interests and further develop yourself by getting involved, whether it be running for student elections, participating in school clubs, or working at an internship. Or, you may choose to strictly focus on getting high grades. Fast forward four years later, you are a recent graduate seeking a full time job. So now you may ask, what do employers look for when hiring recent graduates?
Peter Cappelli, a professor at Wharton, suggests that academic skills are not employers primary concern. In fact, work experience is the essential attribute that employers want for students who have yet to work full time. However, this doesn’t mean grades don’t matter. Although some employers may not crave the good grades, the good grades are sometimes the ones that land you that internship. That brings us to the next question, do some industries care more about internships than others? The answer is yes and no. Media and communications organizations are typically more excited for internships and uniquely indifferent toward your classes. Health care companies care the most about your major, and white-collar businesses care the most about your GPA. Ironically, education employers care the least about grades.
How about the reputation of the school? It most likely does not matter to the employer where they got their degrees, but rather what they did with their time in the school they did attend. It depends on what kind of person they are, how persistent they are, how creative they are, how hard they work, and how they present themselves. Sometimes recruiters hire from the big state schools and have the greater persistence and deal the best with bureaucratic issues, because, in order for them to survive and thrive in their schools, they developed those set of skills. However, the most creative and insightful employees can come from smaller liberal art schools.
The years you spent in post-secondary are supposedly the best four years of your life. Not only do you make long lasting friendships, but this is the time to discover your interests and who you are. School can be tough and challenging, but it’s important to find that school life balance. Undergraduate students are encouraged to work an internship sometime during their post-secondary career. There are many benefits of an internship, such as future employment and having a better chance at landing a full-time position upon graduation. Although grades may not be sufficient as experience in today’s market, it doesn’t mean grades don’t matter. If you are in a competitive field, grades will play a significant role when it comes to determining who will get the job.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not of The HR Gazette or its team members.