One of the most common concerns I’ve heard from high schoolers in their college search is this: Will employers hire me if I have a degree from a small, Christian school?
I’m shocked by this worry.
I just started my junior year at Grove City College, and right now I have an on-campus, paid graphic design job. Today, I was called in to interview for another part-time position at a national business and technology solutions company. A few weeks ago, a company in Washington D.C. reached out to me to talk about being the ‘young voice’ of a six-person marketing team they were building. I also have a paid internship with a multi-billion dollar biotechnical company lined up for the summer.
I do not specify the size or scope of these places to brag, but simply to express that small schools do not have to lead to small jobs.
The company I am going to be working for this summer, I worked for last summer, too. To emphasize to you how employable a Grove City College degree is, my employer for this job told me I was selected out of more than 300 applicants, many of them Ivy Leaguers. Of the final pick of interns at this company, more than 85% were from Ivy League schools. I personally did not even encounter another intern without an Ivy League or next-to-Ivy League degree – except for one. Another current Grove City student ended up being accepted to this company to intern as well.
Now, this is an organization in New York, with no ties at all to Grove City. My application went through a lot of employees before I even got an interview. I doubt more than one of them, if any at all, had even heard of Grove City. It didn’t matter. Both the other girl from Grove City and I had secured internships there. This was a perfect testament to me of how employable Grovers are – in both Christian circles and in the business world at large.
When I ultimately did talk to my employer about why they chose me for my internship position, the answer had nothing to do with school. It came down to three main qualities they cared about:
- I did my research before the interviews. I knew what the company was, their values, and why I wanted to work for the company. I was able to express specifically why they stood out to me in my search process.
- I was enthusiastic. During my emails, phone interviews, and video interviews, my employer said it struck her how passionate I sounded about the topics we discussed. That was important to her.
- I had organized knowledge on the topics I needed to know. When I was asked questions about business, marketing, or management, I stayed calm whether I felt confident or not about the answers. I had thought-through opinions and understanding of the information she referenced.
- I was grateful. After every conversation, every question, every interview, I made sure to show my appreciation for the time recruiters and my manager were spending on me.
These qualities were far more important to my company than the fact that I was from a small school. And the fact that Grove City had a wonderful academic reputation served me when people at my company looked it up during the recruitment process.
So I encourage you, regardless of what college you end up at, not to be overly concerned about the notoriety of it. Be much more focused on how you present yourself to companies, how many jobs you apply for, and how many connections (and friendships) you build along the way. Those are the qualities that Grove City College nurtures in students, and in my experience, it has always been more effective to be kind, enthusiastic, and productive than it would be to go to a big-name school.