Many people are under the assumption that the only thing you can do with an Associates Degree in college (whatever subject) is to go on to get further education. This is simply just a half truth- there are many ways to get entry-level jobs with an Associates Degree so long as you are utilizing it before it’s even accomplished.
Employers look for two things- education and experience. While education is often considered first, what an employer wants to know is how you’ve so far utilized your abilities in life to benefit your education. Education speaks for what you know, and what you can learn. Experience speaks for what you’ve DONE and what you’ve ALREADY learned and applied.
So while pursuing your Associates Degree, you need to find a job or volunteer opportunities relating to what you’d like to do once you’ve graduated. A classic example is being a CNA while in nursing school. With CNA experience, an entry-level nurse just out of training can make far more than a nurse with no job experience in the medical field. I know a nurse with her Associates who worked for a doctor’s office part-time all through school, and soon as she got her Nurses’ Degree they hired her full-time at the same wage the other nurses with a Bachelors Degree were working at. Her experience as a medical assistant and CNA (she also worked as a vet assistant for 2 years) put her aces ahead of other nurses as she was already very familiar with how the medical field worked, and knew what she was doing.
So if you’re in Biology, volunteer on a farm or vet clinic, work as a vet assistant, or be a lab tech at a cheese factory. Weigh silage during harvest, work on a dairy milking cows, whatever gets you in that field before you graduate. It makes an impact when you have even a small amount of experience in any field.
Arts/Language/Theatre majors? Volunteer at school plays, do 4H projects in arts, photography, what have you, enter writing contests, keep writing freelance. The experience adds up.
If you’re in Business, start a home-based business and be sure to share the success of what you did in your resumes. Work in Assistant Management or Management of a dollar store, whatever. It just gets that real-life experience on there.
You’ll see many job openings that want the education and/or related experience. Why not have a good dose of both to give you the edge even over the Bachelor Degree applicants who have no experience at all? I am currently a Biology major, and I seasonally work at a feedlot vaccinating cattle and assisting with preg checks. Not the greatest, but gets me involved in the field however much I can before graduating, and even doing harvest in the Fall gives me that lab experience with having to weigh silage for water weight.
By the way, other Biology majors, BLM and Fish and Game often hire students who have 6 months in biology or environmental science (or related studies) under their belts and can get you into entry-level work before you even get your Associates.
Think your Associates can’t be used to get you a job? Guess again!