Employers Look for Job Experience in New Graduates

By Caralee J. Adams — March 05, 2013 2 min read
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More than where they went to college or their grade point average, employers are looking for job applicants that have internships.

New research by Marketplace and The Chronicle of Higher Education finds that businesses value work experience most when making new hires. While some degree programs traditionally have required internships, colleges are responding to market demand by ramping up opportunities for workplace learning in more fields. Even high schools are realizing the need to form partnerships with businesses so students are better prepared for the workforce.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers says 63 percent of students in the class of 2012 who had paid internships had at least one job offer when they graduated. Of those who didn’t have an internship, 40 percent had an offer.

Job prospects also vary widely depending on the field of study

, said Anthony Carnevale, director and research professor of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, speaking Monday at a meeting of the Association of Career and Technical Education. His research has found those who study engineering, computer/mathematics, and business also have higher lifetime earnings than those in education, psychology/counseling, or human services.

Of the 55 million new jobs expected to open up in the next 10 years, more and more will require some form of education or training beyond high school. There is an 84 percent wage advantage over a lifetime for those with postsecondary education, said Carnevale. Earnings generally go up with higher levels of education, but in some high-demand fields, those with an associate degree or certificate can sometimes make more than those with a bachelor’s degree, noted Carnevale.

“It isn’t so much degree level that determines if you get a job,” he said. “What you make, depends on what you take.”

Nearly 30 percent of associate degree holders make more than those with bachelor’s degrees. And 44 percent of graduates from four-year college have higher earnings that those with graduate degrees, said Carnevale.

All this points to the need for in-depth career exploration so students can make smart choices when it comes to choosing a major. In high school and college, experts say students need to make the most out of their experience beyond the classroom to be competitive in today’s job market. Carnevale applauded the efforts of ACTE, noting that career tech programs were efficient and a proven approach that helps students gain real-world experience and provides skilled workers for the economy.

A version of this news article first appeared in the College Bound blog.