Your degree isn’t enough

This article from Shala Marks (a 2012 college graduate) is worth a read, especially to twenty-somethings who are still in college:

Lack of Experience Leaves Half of 2012 College Grads Jobless, Underemployed (

Marks discusses how some recent graduates that she’s known have begun promising careers, while others are either unemployed or underemployed. The point she makes is that the employment doesn’t just come from a college degree, but also from more practical, work-related experience:

Now more than ever, degrees cannot stand on their own. They must be supported by experience. Internships, fellowships, research and volunteer work: These are the things recruiters and employers look for beyond the B.A.’s and B.S.’s.

When I began college in 2006, I was under the impression that a bachelor’s degree was all you needed to get a job, and that your extracurricular activities (clubs, internships, volunteer work, etc.) were just extra. Especially being a student at an Ivy League school, I figured that finding a job after graduation would be a piece of cake.

So my first two years of college, I only focused on academics. But in 2008, before my junior year, the Great Recession hit. And after hearing how horrendous the economy was, and how difficult it was for recent graduates to find a job, I realized that a high GPA and an Ivy League degree alone would not guarantee me a career.

That school year, I started becoming involved in extracurricular activities: I wrote articles for student magazines, and I joined the campus TV station. I was developing my skills as a writer and filmmaker, but I felt inferior when students in my grade were becoming leaders of their organizations, while I was only starting out.

Still, it was better for me to just start out than to never become involved at all. Even though I graduated more than two years ago, I still reference the extracurricular work that I did in college on my résumé.

In addition to developing work-related skills, extracurriculars also allow you to network with people who share your career interests. Internships connect you with companies and their employees, while campus organizations connect you with upperclassmen and alumni, all of whom can help you get your first post-graduate job.

So to you college students, extracurriculars are not extra: they’re mandatory. It’s hard enough doing papers, exams, and everything else your classes demand of you; but especially in this economy — where recent graduates are competing against older adults with years of job experience — you need every edge you can get.

About David

I'm an aspiring writer and filmmaker in my twenties. I also run a blog where twenty-somethings share their stories and advice on beginning a career in this economy. Check it out at

Posted on February 25, 2013, in News & views and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. A great post, this is very true indeed!

    Employers are always looking for those additional qualities that identify your professional development. Plus it is a nice way to put those skills that you are learning into practice at the same time.

  2. And perhaps most importantly of all, the extracurriculars can be vitally important in helping you find your true path in life so that you will be more satisfied with your work life once you graduate.

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