Why studying for a business degree doesn't always pay: Summer internships, not business studies, help graduates land jobs

Jessica Morris
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The "return" to internship experience is larger for non-business degree holders (Source: Getty)

Career-minded students who opt for a business degree would be better off picking a subject they feel more passionate about, as long as they're prepared to spend the summer break toiling away in an office.

That’s according to a study by researchers at Auburn University, which looked at the demand for job seekers with particular college degrees and internship experience.

They submitted 9,000 fake CVs to online openings in banking, finance, management, marketing, insurance and sales. While some had been randomly assigned business degrees, others were "graduates" in subjects including biology, English, history and psychology. Additionally, a portion of the fake CVs were randomly given internship experience.

The study found no evidence employers prefer to interview jobseekers with business degrees over applicants with non-business degrees.

However, it did show graduates who completed a three-month internship during the summer of their penultimate year received about 14 per cent more interview requests than those without.

Read more: How to make London more affordable for new grads

Additionally, the "returns" on internship experience are larger for non-business majors than for business majors.

"Despite applying exclusively to business-related job openings, we find no evidence that employers prefer to interview job seekers with business degrees over applicants with non-business degrees," it said.

"In addition, there is no advantage, in terms of job opportunities, associated with a particular degree."

"However, we did find strong evidence that internship experience improves employment prospects in economically and statistically significant ways."

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