Work and life experiences are what make students valuable to employers
We see worry reflected on the faces of our classmates. On our colleagues. On our masthead. It’s always the same nagging question: what the hell do I do after university?
Degrees mean less and less. What used to be a promise of employment, sometimes even well-paying employment, suddenly offers no guarantee of even an interview. We toil for years for a piece of paper that is increasingly losing value. And it scares the hell out of us.
There seems to be only one solution: make your degree worth more. No, you can’t scribble more words onto your certificate, but you can make the most of your time here and the opportunities that university provide.
Concordia University President Alan Shepard, in a Feb. 2 speech, identified the problem. He spoke about the “opportunities for bringing together the world of school and the real world beyond”—in other words, professional life.
“In a knowledge economy, we know that university education brings great opportunities, but it’s very difficult to be certain where the next opportunities may lie,” said Shepard. “[Co-op programs] help a student differentiate his or her own learning experience — to customize it, in other words.”
He went on to say that co-op students can get one of four things out of the experience: “sometimes university credit; a pay cheque from the employer; great on-the-job experience; and either a professional reference or, sometimes, a job.” He adds that there is “evidence that through co-op, the learning is deeper, the marks are higher, and the probability is also much higher that you’ll finish your degree and be a fully employed member of your community.”
Members of our masthead have completed multiple internships. Some are in co-op. At the very least, we are participating in running The Concordian, which is paying job in and of itself. And frankly, we can’t help but agree.
Some of us have said that they learnt more on the job than all of their schooling combined. Some got professional contacts out of the experience, or references by those respected in their field. Not to mention the paycheck that a co-op job brings.
Going to school is, unfortunately, not just about going to school. It’s about rounding yourself out as a candidate. Get involved in student clubs. Do internships. Enter co-op. (Maybe write for your local student media, but hey, just a suggestion.) These things make you the best kind of candidate: the one who gets hired.
How do you cope with a useless degree?