Does every small business need college grads? It’s a big question, and one that you as an owner or manager have no doubt asked yourself at some point.
Some experts will tell you that a college degree is an absolute must if you want motivated workers who are up to speed with current thinking and technology. Others will tell you that no, what you need is experienced workers who are skilled in your field, citing the fact that even Google don’t automatically go for college grads when seeking new staff.
The truth is somewhere in the middle—a college education brings certain advantages, as does practical work experience. The trick is to find the balance and the right employee for your company.
What are the advantages of hiring a college grad versus hiring someone with less formal education but more experience? And can an internship provide a common ground for students looking to work toward an exciting career before graduating and companies looking for the best new skills?
College Degrees Build Skills and Enthusiasm
What college grads lack in business experience, they can make up for in fresh ideas, enthusiasm, and the ability to bring some new skills to the table. College grads are typically fast learners who are eager to make something of their new position, and lacking a long resume comes with the bright side that they also lack professional bad habits and don’t tend to be stuck in their ways.
Hiring a college grad gives you the chance to offer training that will help them fit in with your company, which can benefit you enormously. College grads are also likely to be of the demographic that speaks fluent social media and is comfortable with technology of all kinds.
This lively, enthusiastic approach can bring something dynamic and interesting to your team, and the discipline learned through study can often translate well into a thirst for learning about your company and their job.
Formal Qualifications Can’t Beat Experience
On the flip side of all the great things a college grad can bring to the table, you’ll find the things they can’t—measurable experience in your field, directly applicable skills and a strong sense of how to navigate corporate culture.
As a small business owner, you’re looking for employees who will help your business, who will fit in with your team and bring something valuable and useful to the table. Oftentimes this includes relevant experience and a sense of how to get along in a business setting.
If someone comes along whose personal ethos, experience, and skills matches what you most need in an employee, formal education should take a back seat to an honest and practical assessment of how well they can do the job at hand.
Hiring an Intern May Be a Viable Option
If you’re looking for the best of college skills without the long-term commitment and investment of taking on a new employee, hiring an intern could be your answer. This isn’t about cheap labor—your internship program should take care of your intern and provide good compensation in terms of either money, skills, job prospects, or a combination of all three.
Hiring an intern gives both you and them the chance to find out if they fit well with your company and culture, as well as giving you the chance to train them in the skills that will be of most benefit to you if the internship turns into a permanent position.
Hiring an intern should be carefully planned.
Get clear on what they can do for your business, and what your business can do for them. Once you find the right person you’ll benefit from all the skills and ideas of a soon-to-be graduate, while finding out first hand if there is the potential for a long term working relationship.
When it comes to finding new people for your small business, it can seem like a minefield.
Both college grads and more experienced, but less qualified workers can bring value to your company.
If you want to hire smart, consider putting a little less emphasis on qualifications, and more on focusing on your exact needs (including the right personality to fit in your office) and finding the employees who can meet those, whatever their level of education.
Author: Tristan Anwyn is an author who writes on subjects as diverse as health, marketing, small business, and SEO.
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