Out of classroom experiences top degrees

The only part of Joe Mauer I could see was his forehead. He was surrounded by at least four reporters and cameras in the Minnesota Twins locker room. The sports department decided to send an intern to film post-game footage that day, and that intern was me. Even though this was intimidating, it was an experience that I only would have had through an internship.

This summer I was an intern in the sports department of FOX-9 KMSP. I wrote scripts for broadcasts, interviewed Twins and Vikings players after games, and produced a few packages of my own. Not only was it fun, but it was a great learning opportunity as well. As a journalism student, I could not have asked for a better summer experience, an experience that taught me more about my future career than most classes at St. Thomas.

My internship made me wonder whether a college degree was just a waste of time. This does not mean that a St. Thomas education or any college education is not important. It is well-known that on average, those who attend college make more money in the long-run than those who do not. But now there is no longer the promise of a career once you receive a college diploma.

The certificate on your wall after graduation does mean something, but it seems like that diploma is less of a ticket to a successful future and more like a piece of fancy parchment paper. With a national unemployment rate of 9.7 percent, no college student can be convinced that a degree alone can guarantee a career coming out of college.

In the past, a simple undergraduate degree was sufficient for getting a job, but that is no longer the case. More likely, what you do outside of the classroom is going to get you the job. When I interviewed for my internship, the executive producer told me that the internship would be what I made of it. I could have easily sat in my little cubicle, wrote one reader during my shift and called it a day. But what good is that? I had the drive to learn and so I was able to do so much more than an intern who didn’t take the opportunity.

Employers hire workers because of their professional experience and what they can bring to the table, not just because of a degree. Most of the people who apply for the job also have degrees. Sometimes, an education may not mean anything at all. I could have a master’s degree in journalism, but if I stutter in front of the camera during an audition, the job would go to the high school graduate who is charismatic on TV. Yes, this is unfair. But like your mom may have told you, life’s not always fair.

I do think that a college education is the best way to get a career, but to me, a college education is more than just sitting in a classroom. It is being a part of TommieMedia, participating in internships, and pushing myself in multiple areas of my field. So, when I do graduate with my degree in hand, I’ll be able to talk about more than my GPA.

Ashley Bolkcom can be reached at awbolkcom@stthomas.edu