I agree with what Lissa said, especially when it comes to internships!
When I started in journalism, I had a college degree and some experience at a local television station. At the first two stations I worked at after graduation, I found several colleagues of mine who had been working in the business without a college degree. However, those were smaller size cities (smaller media markets). As I moved up to bigger stations in bigger cities, I noticed all of my colleagues had degrees.
Long story short, I think there is a ceiling for people without a degree. You may not notice it for years, but everyone I know without a degree has eventually hit a wall in their career. I'd say take the time to get yours. You won't regret it down the road.
Which is better experience without a degree or degree without experience?
Our recommendation is always "degree first" - the job market is highly competitive, and goal #1 should be to build a CV that gives you an edge over the "competition". Studying teaches you self-discipline, ability to develop self-drive to get results, communication and collaboration with your student peers etc - all good things for the real-work environment. These skills are very visible in graduate applications we see in our business today. For example, we see much better sales performance from new graduates than others without degrees and "just" some work experience.
HOWEVER, there is a counter-argument for this. A lot of people think that "real-world" experience / "university of life" builds character, builds your network, improves your communication skills, builds your natural "common sense" etc -
all of which are also core competencies you need to demonstrate in a work environment.
But the reality remains that the most significant "door-opener" is still a degree over experience - maybe this will change over time as vocation-based / on-the-job training options grow for school-leavers.
Also remember that an option might be a "sandwich" degree ... where you have a period of work experience as part of your degree. Or you take a gap year BEFORE your degree - with some work and travel mixed in. This could look good for many employers.
A college degree demonstrates to future employers that you had the due diligence to start something and see it through to completion. Even thought it might be a tough road, if you can find time to volunteer in your field while you are getting your degree, you will begin building your network of contacts which can serve you well in the future. Stay in school and get your degree, volunteer with school-sponsored organizations and always look for new and exciting opportunities to meet new people. Use Linked in to stay in contact with these folks and be sure to get your degree. Often, employers have programs in place to fund your continuing education which is a win-win for you! I'm sure the last thing you want to think about right now is continuing your education, but remember you will likely be changing your career path at least five times!
Eddie Vargas, PHR, SHRM-CP
This definitely depends on the type of field you are planning on working in. Some fields place more priority on education, while others look for relevant years of experience. Generally, most employers do look for a balance of relevant work experience and education. However, being early in your career, it definitely is possible to get both in the form of internships, volunteer work, and part-time jobs.
Unfortunately, most employers look for both!! This creates somewhat of a dilemma because you forego experience while obtaining your degree, or you work to gain experience, but do not have a degree.
One way to overcome this obstacle is to seek an internship with a company in a field that you are interested in working in. You will be earning "firsthand" work experience during your internship and can also work towards your degree. Upon graduating, you should get a pretty good salary, because you will have both...experience and a degree!!
Good luck to you!!
They look for both! A lot of jobs require a degree, so in that case any experience would help. However, if a job doesn't require a degree, then I would still say experience.
I can't speak for all situations, but in my organization entry level positions with the greatest job growth potential are based on degree not experience. For most professional positions we will not consider an applicant who does not have a degree, regardless of their experience level.
if you could only have one, then I would say the Degree is more important. It opens more doors and allows you to demonstrate you skillet once in role.