But you not only care about the experience while in college, right? You want a place that will help prepare students for a happy and successful career.

So what are employers looking for when hiring? The Chronicle of Higher Education conducted a survey in 2012 that looked at this and numerous other factors associated with hiring recent college graduates. They asked employers to rank eight factors with regard to their relative importance in hiring. Here are the results.

Relative importance to employers


Employment during college

College Major

Volunteer experiences

Extracurricular activities

Relevance of coursework

College GPA

College reputation









Source: Chronicle of Higher Education

Very interesting, and perhaps unexpected, right? Prior work experience, whether in an internship or a job, is clearly what employers care about most when evaluating potential candidates who recently graduated from college. Why is this?

Well, regardless of the school they attended or the major they studied, young folks have a wide variation in levels of maturity and ability to work with others, right? College jobs and internships allow others to do the work that lots of employers would understandably rather not have to do themselves, both in terms of showing college students how to act in a workplace and in terms of sorting out who’s best at working as part of a team.

Interestingly, college reputation came in dead last in terms of relative importance for employers, behind even things like volunteer experience and extracurricular activities. Hmmm……