Monday, August 4, 2008

The College Question

I get lots of young creatives asking for advice about what college or type of college they should go to. How does it affect them getting a job? Do employers care?

Yes it matters. Yes the employers care.

I teach in an Associates program (2 year degree) at a community college. It's a good program, but it only teaches about half of what you need. It's a great start to a 4 year school. It's like a crash course compared to a 4 year institution. Many people go to 2 year schools and get good jobs, but employers are much more interested in a 4 year degree. Business schools seem to teach even less basic courses and focus on getting you work. Many of the people in the hiring positions of companies have degrees from good 4 year schools. They know what they learned and want you to have the same education.

When hiring someone with no experience, school is one of the only things to go by. Usually the better the school's reputation, the better the candidate is, but certainly not always. I would suggest sending your resume with a couple of samples of work if you want people to think of your work before your education. I have worked for several companies that only hire from the top 3 schools. They wouldn't even touch a 2 year school, but that is only at the very high level. Also, once you get some work experience your education will matter less and less. It's good to do an internship so you get some experience on your resume.

Your portfolio only matters if you can get in the door and show it. Another important thing is to do a simple website portfolio so they can see it quick and get an idea for your work. It is much more likely for them to see the online portfolio, because they don't have to waste their time bringing you in for an interview if you are bad.

I went to a 2 year community college and then transferred to a 4 year university. Because transferring credits became difficult I went to school for a total of 5 years. I took a lot from both schools and they both heavily contributed to my success. I believe I made the right choice for me. I do not believe I could be where I am and have the level of quality I do, if I didn't go to both schools.

Research your schools and the professors. The school is the professors so make sure they are people you respect. The better the schools reputation, the better chance you have of getting a better job. That school will also have better connections that can help you get great jobs.


  1. Paul, how did you feel about our collegiate experience? Did you feel that it was a good start, and that it propelled us into professionalism? I felt that you were a professional, and that you were networking, but I don't know about those who surrounded us.

  2. John, that is a great question. I do feel it was a great start. There are certainly students like you and I that take college seriously and work hard, trying to get ahead, but there are plenty that coast through. My work was tremendously improved with hard work pushed by great professors and competitive students. My college experience was also intertwined with a ton of work experience as I worked several jobs throughout all of college.

    Your point about networking is very important as many students forget to network. Whether you like them or not, you will be working in the same industry as your classmates and you will run into them time and time again. Most students completely undervalue the importance of networking.