Experience Counts ... and Cedarville Students are Getting It!

by Public Relations Office - Cedarville, OH

Today a college education is no longer enough to ensure success at finding a good job. Research shows that when it comes to breaking into a career, today’s graduates need to have “discipline-related experience” along with a degree to beat out the competition.

“Discipline-related experience” is the new collective phrase for internships or co-ops, which are what today’s employers are looking for on graduates’ resumes. In 1994, 63% of American college students had at least one discipline-related experience. Ten years later that number jumped to 90%. With an estimated 1.3 million people earning a bachelor’s degree each year, employers are saying that experience counts.

In response to the changing employment scene, the Cedarville University Career Services Office is encouraging and helping students get more out of their education and put more on their resume. Jeff Reep, assistant director of career services, said, “We tell students that when you leave here if all you have is a degree and a GPA, you are way behind. You are going to be competing with graduates who have discipline-related experience, and so you better have it as well.” In 2006, Cedarville students were involved in 597 discipline-related experiences varying in duration, location, and responsibilities.

Discipline-related experiences are part of how career services helps students with their professional aspirations. While not a placement office, career services markets CU students to employers and helps match students with possible opportunities. Reep says the goal is win-win. “The employer gets affordable help and an uncommitted opportunity to evaluate a potential employee while the student gains a resume entry along with the opportunity to confirm or validate a career aspiration,” he explained.

Validation is an important component of the career assessment process. Helping students match their interests, skills, values, and abilities with professional aspirations is critical. “We stress that 60% of Americans dislike their jobs. And so our question is ‘What are you doing now not to be in that percentage?’ Early assessment is critical to increase future success,” Reep stated. And that is why discipline-related experience is important, he says, especially since some experiences help students recognize that they may not be on the right career path. “Better to learn that sooner rather than later,” Reep advised.