Education vs. experience: which do employers prefer?

Talissa Peoples

People have varying outlooks on life after college as far as how employers weigh their options. The debate about whether employers prefer graduates straight out of college or someone with years of experience is ongoing.

“Students have to help themselves along the way.,” said Hobson Hamilton, Jr., assistant director of career services. “Be proactive.”

Hamilton said students can find internship opportunities on various websites as well at Kent State career services. He also said internships are a great way to gain the experience the job may require.

Sometimes education itself may not be enough, Hamilton said. Employers want experienced workers, but students should not let that discourage them.

“Your education has value,” Hamilton said, “in some cases more value than experience.”

It is not always about what students do once they graduate from college, but what they can do before they graduate for better preparation for future employment, Hamilton said. With the state of the today’s job market, getting realistic experience in their desired field is helpful to students looking for employment.

Some students prepare themselves by interning and job searching before graduating.

Kenneth Kasee, 23, graduated from Kent State this spring with a Bachelor of Science in integrated language arts for secondary education. Kasee said he started job searching while still attending Kent State. He received a position one week after graduating, and said he will begin work in August.

Kasee said he thinks that no matter what position anyone applies for, the question of whether he or she has experience will arise.

“Hopefully people with experience get the job first,” Kasee said. “I’d rather hire someone who knows the ins and outs rather than a person that just studied the ins and outs.”

Kasee said he believes the person with more experience is most likely the best person for the job, but college graduates have strengths to offer an employer as well.

Alicia Cross, 22, graduated from Kent State in May 2010 with a Bachelor of Science in human development and family studies. She said she decided to go to graduate school.

Cross said she thinks a candidate with more experience may have the upper hand, but even if college graduates don’t have the experience, they still have a lot to offer.

“Students fresh out of college may be more motivated and creative when it comes to their job,” Cross said.

She said nothing is better than an eager employee, which is exactly what students are when they graduate.

Kent State Career Services provides career counseling, resume building and academic testing to help students better prepare for the job market. Hamilton said he believes many opportunities are available for graduates; they just have to seek them.

Talissa Peoples is the student finance reporter. Contact her at [email protected].