The college or university one graduates from can play a factor in your ability to get a job, but in many cases, it is not for the reason most people think.
Dear Matt: Does the college I graduate from really matter in the job search? I mean, will employers value a public school education versus a private school education? It seems that after your first job, it's all about experience, not what college you went to.
Matt: What employers value are the education and experiences you've gained while obtaining that education. They don't look to see if you went to an inexpensive or expensive, public or private, small or large school. They look to make sure you have the education required and that you can back that up with relevant skills and experiences that can be applied to real-world situations.
This debate comes up for many entry-level or early career workers who feel that because they attended a school that has a perceived reputation as a better school, or because it was an "expensive" school, they will get the job ahead of other candidates with similar backgrounds. Employers do work closely with colleges and universities and they know, through interviewing/hiring candidates from those programs over the years, where they may find better prepared candidates, but it's not the ultimate deciding factor.
"The experiences gained in college through committees and associations, coupled with strong performance, are typically viewed as more important than whether or not the college is public or private," says Lisa Frame, managing director of the Minneapolis branch of Kelly Law Registry, a direct hire, contract and consulting firm.
If your college or department has a strong network of alumni or professional connections in a certain field, that can also be a plus, says Frame. That's why it's important for college students, entry-level workers and even experienced workers to use their college career center and alumni networks to their advantage. Learn what resources/contacts are available to you and how they can benefit you in your job search.
As you move further along in your career, it's more about your work experience and accomplishments. As a professional, your goal should be to make sure that your work history is full of successes that position you as a leader in your field. Your college and degree will always show employers you have the education many jobs require, but it won't define who you are or the type of worker you will be. Let your college/degree work for you in the area of networking and relationship building, and build your career through your hard work and achievements.
Ultimately, that is what will drive your success and opportunities as your career progresses.