What comes first - the job or the experience? The running joke is that college graduates need years of experience before they can get their first job. The question remains: How do I get experience to start my career?
One of my favorite quotes is by the author Dave Ramsey, “If you want to live like no one else later, you have to live like no one else now.”
College is a time for making memories, but it is also a time to learn how to sell yourself to employers. If you want the offers no one else receives after graduation, you have to put in the work no one else is putting in during college. You have to work harder when everyone else is taking an easy semester and become an active participant in your education. Getting involved in clubs or taking internships in your chosen field will not only allow you to make memories that will last a lifetime, but will also help you gain invaluable experience.
Continue reading for five tips on how to gain experience to get you closer to your dream job when you graduate.
Find an organization or nonprofit in your field of interest and get involved! Volunteering will allow you to gain experience while helping your community. It's a win-win for everyone! Volunteer work is a great resume builder. It shows employers that you take initiative and are passionate about a cause. While volunteering, you have the opportunity to network within your community. Here are a few of the local organizations that MAU has partnered with that are always looking for volunteers.
Resume Pro Tip: Don’t forget to track how many hours you volunteer so you can state it on your resume. Data is always eye-catching on a resume, and listing the hours will show your dedication.
2. Part-time Jobs
Gaining experience to break into your desired career field does not always come with a pay check. If you cannot go without cash flow, a part-time job may be a better option for you. Working part-time allows you the opportunity to see if that is the type of work that you enjoy doing. If you’re in school or already employed full-time, adding a part-time job will force you to learn to manage your time more effectively and show your work ethic to future employers. Here are some MAU has available!
3. Federal Work-Study Program
Most universities offer work programs that allow students to work on or off-campus. While the work may not be in your field of study, the experience and skills that you gain will be extremely valuable. You will learn time management as you balance classes and homework around your work schedule. The different tasks within your work will teach you other skills, including computer skills, teamwork, multitasking, and more. Along with the skills and experience, you will earn a little money; work-study programs pay students at least minimum wage. Students will have the choice to put it towards education-related institutional charges such as tuition, fees, room and board, or put the money into their pockets.
Many schools and professors have connections with local businesses that offer internships to help students gain real-world experience in their chosen fields. Along with gaining experience, internships are a great way to find a mentor. Having a role model that can guide you on the right path will be indispensable when you head out into the working world. Mentors can act as a reference, provide valuable feedback on your resume and/or portfolio, and help you make the right connections to get your foot in the door. It also doesn’t hurt that some internships are paid. If they are unpaid, some school programs allow internship hours to count towards course credits.
Resume Pro Tip: Save the work that you complete during an internship. These pieces can make up a virtual or physical portfolio for you to take with you into an interview. Let your work back up what you say in your interview.
5. Join a Research Team
Joining a research team is an excellent way to gain experience and enhance your resume. This is a unique opportunity to work side-by-side with a faculty member. Research work also can help develop your soft skills including: teamwork, leadership, analytical skills, presentation skills, and communication. Not only is research impressive on a resume, but it also gives you a unique insight into your field of study.
Implementing a few of these tips can strengthen your resume. Experience is more about gaining knowledge through participation. It can help you get the job you’re seeking and enrich your life. If you need advice on how to include your new skills on your resume, click the link below!