They say college is the best 4 (or 5 or 6) years of your life. Sure, have a blast! But don’t leave college not knowing what to put on your resume. If you’re worried about having a ghost town of a resume (except for the education section) after graduating college, we might have a few tips that will help you build up your resume, even while your occupation status still reads “Student.”
The biggest key that any and every college student needs to remember is to stay active. Sure, you might look forward to Thirsty Thursdays, but don’t let that be the only extracurricular activity you join in this week.
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Whether it’s taking a semester to study abroad or embarking on an international trip during the summer, traveling requires you to use (and learn) a lot of skills that you wouldn’t normally have to in everyday life. Travel experiences can be great for leaning transferable soft skills that a company may value when assessing a culture fit. Matador Network mentions that many of the soft skills a student may learn while traveling are great to use in a cover letter as they could help you stand out as a candidate. According to Goabroad.com, “Some of these may include phrases such as ‘problem solving,’ ‘money management,’ ‘language skills, or even ‘cross-cultural communication,’ if you successfully overcame a language barrier. Many study abroad programs have students actively participating in projects like teaching and volunteering which are also excellent experiences to include in your resume. Speaking of volunteering…
While it might seem like a better use of your time to take extra courses or find an internship, many are beginning to realize just how important volunteering could be to landing their dream job. In fact, LinkedIn found that “41 percent of employers said they considered volunteer work as important as paid work, and that 20 percent said they had made a hiring decision based on volunteer work.” Not only that, but the volunteer work you perform doesn’t necessarily have to directly correlate to the job you hope to have one day. This is due to the fact that employers see volunteer work as a whole to be character-building as well as a great way to learn a number of job-related skills.
Time to take charge! If there’s a club you’re already involved in on campus, or a club you wish your campus had, now might be the time to step into a leadership role. If your club already has a leader who likes what they do, we recommend not trying to take their job, but try asking if there’s any way you can help or take on responsibility in a leadership capacity. If there are clubs or other activities you’ve heard of at other schools that you wish your school had, think about talking with a dean or professor about introducing those to your own school and building interest among the students.
Speaking of extracurriculars, don’t feel like you have to be the president of the Model UN in order to be able to put in on your resume. Many campus clubs are great not only for meeting other students who are pursuing similar careers, but also networking with alumni and potential employers. If a future employer sees that you’ve made the effort to pursue career-like activities outside the workplace, they’ll be able to see and understand just how passionate you are about in X field. Additionally, according to HerCampus, many professional associations have campus chapters that your professors may be able to tell you more about. Joining these can help you learn more about what a career in your desired field realistically looks like and can also help you to network with others who already have established careers.
Complete passion projects
What is a passions project?
So many things! A passion project could be starting a new club at your school, teaching yourself a new technical skill, managing a volunteer project from start to finish, blogging, becoming an advocate for a cause, etc. A passion project is something that you initiate yourself, learn new skills for, and follow through with until an end goal is met. It tells an employer that there are things that you care about besides receiving a paycheck twice a month and can also be a great way to show dedication, determination, and perseverance.
It might seem like a scary thing to try to get into, but freelancing can actually be a fast track to getting some great job experience and also has a wide range of potential depending on the type of work you perform and your quality of service. If you’re not sure where to get started, try making a list of the things you’re pretty good at or do fairly often. Then, check out websites like Upwork or Fiverr for potential work you could be doing as a freelancer. If you see a job listing and think, “Hey, I could do that!” Then do it! Take on only a few initial clients on these websites and then see if you can move on to more “quality” clients later on through referrals or your own blog/website (seeing as these websites are often used by clients seeking entry-level help that will charge a lower rate). Read our post: “How to Use a Side Hustle to Get the Experience You Need for Your Dream Job”
Study a second language
You don’t have to study abroad to learn coveted cross-cultural skills. Besides the fact that many degree programs require students to complete at least two semesters of a foreign language anyway, learning a foreign language can do a lot to give you the edge when entering the workforce. Almost any and every employer will see the value in having someone on their team who can speak and understand a second or foreign language. Besides this, “being able to speak a second or third language transcends spoken dialogue. The skill enables you to relate to different cultural groups in a more personal manner. Speaking to someone in his or her own language helps break down barriers and allows everyone to feel more comfortable and confident” according to James Doherty of WinterWyman. Not only will learning a second or foreign language help you to stand out from other candidates, but you’ll also be seen as a desired commodity for global companies as well, giving you a wide range of options when it comes to future employers.
If you work, do it right
We heard that over 70% of college students take time out of their schedules to work either part or full-time jobs. And while working during college is nothing new (and probably isn’t going away any time soon) there is a better and a worse way to do it. Our best advice to college students working simultaneously while taking classes is to find a job you consider to be a “stepping stone” or at least something that will have transferable skills to a career you’d actually like to have in the future. Try your best not to waste your time in the food industry if you’d like to one day have a job in media relations.
Build relationships with your professors
There are many reasons why it would be a good idea to build professional relationships with your college professors. Besides the fact that college professors are real people and typically want to see their students succeed in their class, relationships with them can also come in handy later. Networking and building up your LinkedIn connections shouldn’t wait until graduation. If you do well in a course and have a good relationship with your professor, why not ask for a brief letter of recommendation that you can save for a future resume or ask them to endorse you on LinkedIn? It’s one thing to try to convince a hiring manager that you take initiative and communicate well in a group, it’s another thing if an academic professor can do it for you. Professors can also lend some insight into a realistic career path to take once graduating college which could save you some wasted time in the long run.
Overall, when looking to build up your resume in college, make sure what you choose to do tells a story that ultimately makes sense with what you want to do after graduating college. If you’re able to relate the progression of your collegiate activities to your career aspirations, your employer might just be able to see it too.
Do anything in college that was great for your resume? Share it in the comments below and share the post with someone who’s currently taking Intro to Psychology.