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Professionalism 101

Professionalism 101: It’s Not All About The Grades You Make

With the world changing so fast, employers care less for GPA and more on experience and creativity.

Hannah Demissie

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Which is more important when applying for jobs and internships: grades or experience?

Let me make this clear, grades are important and that you should always try to get the best grades you can in college. You or your parents are paying thousands of dollars to attend, but you shouldn’t rely heavily on your GPA to carry you through the hiring process. Unless you plan to attend some sort of graduate school, yes you should focus on your grades but also try to get as much work experience as you can which means taking on internships and other professional opportunities.

Danielle Germain is a rising junior at American University majoring in broadcast journalism and minoring in political science. So far, she has held three internships during her time in college. She has interned at the American Theatre Magazine, Urban Teachers and this summer she’s currently a Corporate Communications Intern at Macy’s Inc.

“I don’t think [my GPA] was a factor,” said Germain. “American Theatre didn’t even ask for it.”

Although Macy’s and Urban Teachers did ask for Germain’s GPA it was important to her that she highlight other skills that she holds.

“I made it a point to say how much I’ve struggled, but I’ve only improved since starting college.” Extracurriculars helped Germain adjust to college. “When I developed a schedule of school, clubs and homework, I got into a great routine where I was able to prioritize everything.”

We as a society have created an environment where many college students find their self-worth in their grades. This causes college students to focus more on grades than actually learning which limits creativity and critical thinking, two skills that are key in the work force, especially now since things change so fast in the professional world, it’s important to stay ahead of the trend or even create them.

“I also think universities put so much pressure on students to have the best grades in order to get a job,” said Germain. “People forget you have to have substance and not be all books. I think showing an employer who you are beneath the surface is the key to any job.”

If one was to look at those who’ve revolutionized the world and changed they way we think, many of them didn’t solely focus on their GPA. People such as Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, John McCain, Joe Biden and and many more. These people had not so stellar academic records, but they went on to have amazing careers.

An Atlantic article from 2014 list attributes that employers found important during the hiring process. Three of the most important attributes were internships, employment during college, and your college major. GPA actually fell second from the bottom.

When one is going through the hiring process for a job or internship, most employers are trying to figure out if you are going to be beneficial to them and their company. The only person who benefits from getting a high GPA is yourself, no one else. Yes, GPA shows that you have a good work ethic and that you can stay focus for a long time, but that’s about it. It doesn’t show what your capable of outside of that.

Are you looking for digital journalism training and experience? Are you a journalism major who wants to take your career to the next level? CMN’s Digital Journalism course gives you real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to journalism influencers and mentors, and a great place to display your work. You can get academic credit too. Check out the Digital Journalism Course here.

I'm a rising junior at American University majoring in political science. Besides writing for CMN, I'm also a tour guide at American University, a senator in Student Government, and a member of my sorority Alpha Epsilon Phi. You can check out more of my writing on my blog: https://www.thewonkblog.com/

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