Step 5: Gaining Experience
All the employers we’ve talked to recently about college graduates stress the importance of experience. These employers want college grads who not only have the educational background, but have one or more types of work experiences.
Here are the types of experiences college students can expect to have:
- Internships. One of the best types of work experiences. Internships involve working part-time in your expected career field, either during one of the semesters or over the summer. Besides gaining valuable experience, you get exposed to the business environment and gain valuable references and people for your network. You can find more information and resources at Quintessential Careers: Internship Resources.
- Summer Jobs. These jobs are not always in your field of interest and may even seem to be simply a way of saving money for school, but having any kind of work experience is valuable and many offer transferable skills that carry over to other jobs. You can read more about summer jobs and find links to top summer job Websites at: How to Find a Summer Job.
- Campus Jobs (work-study). Many students simply see work-study as a form of financial aid, but you can make the most of your experiences by identifying key skills you use on the job.
- Entrepreneurial/Self-Employed Jobs. A growing number of students have started their own businesses — whether traditional ones, such as lawn maintenance business or emerging ones, such as a Web-based business. Make sure to include these on your resume. Learn more with our Key Resources for College Entrepreneurs.
- Temporary Work. Some students work for temporary agencies doing a variety of work. Where you’ve done professional work or work with good transferable skills, make sure to include it on your resume. See our Temporary Employment Jobs.
- Volunteering — Schools, Places of Worship, Clubs, Not-for-Profit Organizations. Working for one of these groups can be a win-win, where you are helping out your community and you can be gaining valuable skills and experience. Find other ideas for volunteering with our Volunteering and Nonprofit Career Resources.
- Research Papers/Projects. Especially if you do not have a lot of work experience, don’t rule out the experience related to senior theses, term papers, and group projects.
- Certification Courses. Many industries, such as technology, offer special certifications, which can add experience for you as well as add value to you as a potential employee.
- Campus Activity Positions. Key experiences — especially leadership positions — you had in various campus organizations should be included on your resume.
- Fraternity/Sorority/Social Club Positions. If you’ve held important leadership roles or been involved in a major project(s), you should list these on your resume.
- Extracurricular or Sports Leadership Positions. Some employers look specifically for athletic experiences because of the belief that being an athlete helps build teamworking and leadership skills.
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