Posted February 28, 2012 by

College Graduates with Work Experience May Have an Advantage

While work experience does not guarantee college grads jobs, it can’t hurt their chances.

College students take note: Prior work experience may be a requisite for getting your foot in the door with employers, a new Accountemps survey suggests. Nine in 10 (91 percent) chief financial officers (CFOs) interviewed said it is important for entry-level accounting and finance professionals to gain practical experience while in college.

CFOs were asked, “How important is it for entry-level accounting and finance professionals to have gained work experience in the field while in college?” Their responses:

Very important 26%
Somewhat important 65%
Somewhat unimportant 6%
Not at all important 3%

“It’s the age-old catch-22 — it’s hard to land a job without experience or gain experience without a job,” said Max Messmer, chairman of Accountemps and author of Job Hunting For Dummies®, 2nd edition. “One advantage for students is the availability of internships and temporary work in their fields, which can provide a taste of the working world, help them build their resumes and expand their networks.”

Here are five tips to help students get a head start on their careers while still in school:

  1. Network early and often. Professionals should build their networks at school, in summer jobs and through internships. Make a point to stay in touch with key advisors and professors. They can be a resource even after you graduate.
  2. Be active in student and trade groups. Participating in an industry organization will help you gain visibility and expand your network. But don’t just join — look for opportunities to take on leadership roles.
  3. Consider temporary work. Staffing firms often have assignments for which students or recent college graduates may be a match. It’s a way to obtain work experience, meet prospective employers and learn about different companies.
  4. Secure an internship. Tap your college career center to identify internships in your field. You’ll gain hands-on expertise that will look good on your resume.
  5. Volunteer. Helping out a charitable organization or trade association also benefits your career. In particular, look for roles that align with your professional goals. For example, if you are an accounting major, you could offer to serve as the treasurer for a local nonprofit or student group.
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