July 24, 2013

Adding your Real-World College Experience to a Resume

A pretty african american business woman at her companyMany of the employers who will decide whether or not you get a particular job feel that relevant job experience is the most important aspect of a recent college graduate’s resume. And while landing an internship during school is excellent experience and looks great on a resume, it isn’t the only measurement of a grad’s experience. In fact, a lot of the work involved in getting through school gives you marketable experience that employers are looking for.

Before beginning the grueling application process, consider including many of the required activities in which you participated in order to get your degree:

  • Most of your time spent in college (supposedly) is spent on coursework. This can include time spent working as a group member in a large project or all of the investigative and research skills you developed writing your capstone piece or thesis. All of this can be included in your resume to give you a potential edge over your competition, especially if your work is on a project that relates to the specific field of work for which you are applying. Simply add a section in your resume that lists
    your relevant major classes and the experience and specialized skills gained in those courses.
  • Many students choose to work part-time jobs throughout their college years in order to reduce the amount of loans they receive or just to earn some spending cash. Don’t discount the experience you’ve gained working in a retail environment or the food service industry. Throughout your time at work you have undoubtedly learned to how to approach all sorts of problems generated by all sorts of people, and people skills is a highly sought after trait in a potential employee. Also, showing that you were able to work through your successful school career gives employers confidence in your ability to manage your time and resources while showing your ability to commit to a course of action and see it through.
  • Most secondary-education institutions offer students opportunities to lead a campus group, club, association, or other activity. And while having a fancy leadership title is great resume candy, it’s best to show how you managed the people and resources under your care during your time in a leadership position. Employers will also want to see how your efforts impacted your organization or school as a whole.
  • Most hiring managers have been found to consider volunteer work as job experience. If you spent some of your free time working as a volunteer, don’t discount the value of that effort. Focus on what you accomplished during your time at the volunteer organization and explain the skills you learned during the experience. Whether it was work at a local homeless shelter or as a campaigner in a local political campaign, list the details of your position and let your potential employers know the positive effects your work had on the organization and people that you served.

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Joshua Bjerke, from Savannah, Georgia, focuses on articles involving the labor force, economy, and HR topics including new technology and workplace news. Joshua has a B.A. in Political Science with a Minor in International Studies and is currently pursuing his M.A. in International Security.