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I have taught at a small liberal arts college for over 40 years. I get to know my students well as a counselor and instructor in several classes, and I spend a lot of time discussing similar career choices and important life decisions with them.

Many alumni have become lifelong friends, and I have proudly followed the careers of hundreds of them throughout their lives.

In this article, I’d like to share some of the things I’ve learned over my years of working with students as they navigate the exciting but scary time in life between college and career.

First, let me point out that finishing college means a lot. On average, someone with a bachelor’s degree earns about $25,000 a year more than a high school graduate, and they can usually do more interesting work.

Many employers use a college degree as a means of selection because, at a minimum, it means you’ve had the tenacity to stick with something for four years and have grown accustomed to working on things you may not be interested in. – be not particularly. else deadline, which is a big part of most jobs.

So, getting that bachelor’s degree is important. But many of the things students worry about the most matter the least.

Your major doesn’t matter as much as you think

If you want a job where the career name and degree name are the same – think accounting, electrical engineering, elementary education, nursing – then yes, your major.

However, if your goal is simply to get a foot in the door in the business world, work for the government, or enter one of the helping professions, employers generally won’t care much about your specialization. .

In fact, even the aforementioned majors are just a ticket to your first entry-level job – and most workers hope to get past that level before very long.

Like many of my students, when I was in college, I felt like I was basically choosing a life and a career when I chose a major. However, most of my psychology graduates do not end up becoming psychologists or even working in a psychology-related field.

Yes, we produce therapists, social workers and psychologists of all kinds, but we also have a lot of bankers, lawyers, teachers, marketers and almost anything you can imagine.

Remember, you’ll have many different jobs throughout your career, and some won’t even exist when you graduate from college.

Future employers are much more interested in the skills you have than the major you have pursued. Are you a good writer? Are you good with data and statistics? Are you fluent in a second language? Can you write computer code? Do you have people skills? These are valuable assets that employers look for, and they don’t care whether you acquired these things by majoring in business or philosophy.

Most of what you do on the job will be picked up on the job during your training. Employers are more interested in your flexibility and willingness to learn new things than what you already know.

Your GPA Doesn’t Matter As Much As You Think

Surprisingly, your GPA won’t matter as much as you think. I see more tears in my office about grades (some of them even student tears!) than anything else, and the importance of the grade is usually exaggerated.

The distraught student really seems to believe right now that getting a B+ instead of an A- in my class is actually going to derail his future and undermine any chance he has of finding happiness. Clearly, at least some other things will come into play.

As I pointed out earlier, employers mostly care about what you can do, and grades don’t necessarily tell them what they need to know. Demonstrating good social skills in an interview or leadership ability and a good work ethic through athletics and other extracurricular activities can be equally important.

To the extent that GPA has any impact, he tends to be hired for this first job, and his impact decreases markedly thereafter. And yes, your grades do matter whether you’re applying to graduate or vocational school, but not in the finer ways that students imagine.

Of course, you’d rather have a 3.5 than a 2.5 GPA when applying for graduate school, but whether you have a 3.8 or a 3.6 will rarely matter.

A former student of mine, Allison O’Brien, is a recruitment and talent professional with over fifteen years of experience. According to Allison, “It’s my job to do the hiring and I can confirm that most employers don’t care about GPA. But yes, we’re looking for transferable skills – we like to see you’ve graduated and achieved a goal . . . . we want to see your passion for your work, your communication skills, your desire to make a difference.”

“Real world” experience through part-time jobs or internships is a big plus

Having experience in a real work environment is invaluable. It doesn’t matter if this experience is called an “internship” or simply a part-time or summer job; either way, you’ll learn the ropes of the working world.

You’ll not only learn new skills, but you’ll also absorb the habits essential to being a good employee: being on time, how to deal with bosses and customers, how to juggle multiple tasks at once.

You will meet people who can help you. If you’re good, they can offer you a permanent position when you’re done with college or write a good reference letter for you or put you in touch with other people who will be great business contacts.

One of the overlooked benefits of work experience is the ability to learn valuable things about yourself. It can help you really recognize what you are good at and what is difficult for you.

You will learn how you manage stress and gain confidence through the small daily successes that can be experienced in any job, no matter how ordinary the job may seem to you at the time.