Education for the sake of personal enrichment is a beautiful thing, but let’s be honest: you didn’t work your tail off to reach a higher plane of self-fulfillment. You got (or you’re getting, or you’re thinking about getting) a degree because you wanted a better job and better money. Your online education can be a powerful tool in your job search. Follow these basic principles to make sure your online degree pays more than just virtual benefits.

Emphasize what you can do

There’s no reason to be ashamed of getting a degree online, don’t get the wrong idea here. The point is, on a resume or in an interview, you should draw attention only to those things guaranteed to make you a more attractive candidate. This goes for any school. If the school itself (or an association or club) impresses on its own, put a spotlight on it. Otherwise, it’s your skills, not your school, that an employer will care about.

Build a network

Just because your online school didn’t hold frat parties every weekend doesn’t mean you can’t fraternize with the people you interact with online. Every contact you make at school, whether fellow students, administrators, or professors, can be valuable relationships when it comes time to find a job. Leave an impression with everyone you meet (in person or online) and let them make an impression on you. Connect on social networks, get their contact information, and always give them a reason to remember you if they ever hear about a job opportunity.

Do more than study

No matter what college you attend, your degree will look pretty empty without work or internship experience. The road to your dream job is probably paved with grunt work. Be willing to take on part-time or even unpaid positions with companies in your industry to show employers you’ve got experience to back up your book smarts.

Take pride in your education

Eleanor Roosevelt said it best: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Your attitude toward your online education will carry over into your job search and into your job. The expectations you set for yourself will be self-fulfilling prophecy—if you think your degree isn’t worth much, it won’t be. If you appreciate the great value of an accredited degree and the acquired skills and knowledge that come with it, you’ll value yourself as a capable and qualified force in your industry.

What do you think – Can an online degree get you a real world job?