Most college students spend a significant portion of their time thinking about their future and their career prospects. The college experience can end up having a profound effect on a student’s attitudes towards their future; many students will enter college with a very clear idea of what they want to do but will end up changing their minds once they get some real-world experience.
Even if you’re completely set and certain about what it is you want to do in the long-term, gaining as much real-world experience as possible while at college is still going to be extremely valuable. Not only will it help to solidify your own ambitions, but it will also give you the opportunity to enhance your resume and ensure you are as prepared as possible for when you do start applying for jobs.
The more work you put into improving your resume while at college, the easier you’ll find it to land interviews and gain interest from future employers. Here are some of the most effective approaches for building up your resume in college.
Work experience is the traditional way of gaining on-the-job training while at school and is also one of the most effective methods of enhancing your resume. Of course, a part-time job or internship that’s relevant to your major and future career plans will be the most valuable, but any work experience is valuable and will look good on a resume.
Most college students plan on ultimately working in a role that is going to require a degree. But, even if you can’t work in the exact position that you are planning for, you should be able to find an auxiliary role that will provide you with relative experience.
Work positions are about more than just training for a particular role. In terms of impressing prospective employers, work experience demonstrates a number of important traits. It shows that you’re able to multitask—balancing your schoolwork and job duties—and that you’re an independent person with initiative and the ability to find your own opportunities.
Regardless of where you’re employed, you’ll find that work experience develops a number of soft skills that are universal in the working world. Wherever you gain your work experience, you’ll need to arrive on time, get along with coworkers, take instructions, meet deadlines, and be able to manage your time. There’s a whole host of incredibly important skills that can be gleaned from any work experience opportunity.
Leadership experience always looks good on a resume. Any opportunities for taking on leadership roles are worth pursuing, and there are a lot more of these roles available than many people realize. For example, it’s worth looking into sports clubs and other extracurricular activities on campus for opportunities to demonstrate your capabilities as a leader. You could even earn a college varsity letter if you excel in sports, which is something that looks great to employers.
Most colleges will also present students with opportunities to engage in cultural outreach programs. These might involve traveling to another country to do volunteer work, or they might involve reaching out locally or to other communities in the United States. Working with other groups will show your willingness to embrace new experiences and will make an impressive addition to any resume.
All colleges have student government organizations and student-run campus activities. Rising to a leadership position within one of these groups won’t just give you an opportunity to demonstrate your supervisory skills, it will also demonstrate that you’re capable of getting like-minded individuals to rally for a cause and work together. Membership in these organizations will also demonstrate that you take an active interest in the well-being of your school community and in other students. Employers will like seeing this kind of loyalty.
Making it into an honor society is a huge achievement in itself and will give any resume a notable boost. Joining an honor society can completely transform your entire college experience for the better. It will enable you to meet more people and can also provide you with a prime opportunity for career networking. Many of the people you’ll meet will be on the same professional trajectory as you and making their acquaintance early on can make a big difference in the long run.
The networking connections that an honor society presents will provide you with even more opportunities to beef up your resume. Most honor societies host regular events both on and off campus, many of which will provide you with more opportunities to meet new people and expand your career horizons.
Earning membership into an honor society is a significant chapter of most people’s college experience, one that many want to acknowledge in some way. Celebratory events only last for a single night, but customized honor society frames are the perfect way to commemorate this important rite of passage and will look impressive in your future office.
There is no shortage of opportunities to join extracurricular clubs and activities while you are at college. These are more realistic targets than honor societies for most people, while carrying many of the same advantages from the perspective of your resume. Extracurricular activities offer a prime opportunity to demonstrate your best qualities.
If you’re reasonably fit, consider joining a sports-related club. You don’t have to make the college team or enter any competitions. A potential employer looking over your resume will be impressed by any athletic pursuits. They won’t be concerned with whether you made it all the way to a national competition or not.
Much of what you learn by participating in sports can be applied to the workplace. For example, excelling in a team sport requires effective communication with other players, as well as an ability to work with other people. Even if you aren’t playing on a team, any sport will require you to exercise some degree of self-discipline—you’ll need to motivate yourself and take responsibility for your own schedule.
There are plenty of extracurricular opportunities beyond sports, however. Most colleges have their own newspaper. Landing a job working on it is one of the most impressive resume augmentations there is. Employers definitely respect workers who’ve had experience writing, reporting, editing, selling ads, photographing, or designing for a college newspaper, since these are all very marketable skills. Of course, if you intend to pursue a career in journalism after college, this is the college experience to aim for.
Sorority and Fraternity Positions
Sorority and fraternity organizations are potentially very fruitful sources of extracurricular experience and knowledge. Membership in these organizations is considered an integral part of the American college experience, and there are lots of reasons to want to join one outside of the benefits it will provide to your resume.
If you’re naturally quite a shy and reserved person then being involved in a Greek organization can be a great way of encouraging yourself to socialize and open up more. Being able to frame your Greek membership in terms of your own personal development on your resume will set you apart from the other candidates, many or most of whom will also have a membership of a fraternity or sorority on their resume.
Many students find that their membership of one of these organizations provides them with ample opportunities to develop worthwhile skills both on and off campus. Attending regular meetings will give you an opportunity to improve your public speaking skills and communicate effectively as a group to find solutions and opportunities together.
Fraternities and sororities both also regularly host off-campus events which provide you with additional opportunities. Speaking at an off-campus event is worth including on your resume; it will carry more weight than speaking at a campus meeting. It’s also an excellent way of getting yourself noticed within the organization and rising to a higher position.
Beyond public speaking opportunities, like other college societies, fraternities and sororities will regularly host their own events. You don’t need to be the keynote speaker to get involved in these in a meaningful way. You can also volunteer to help organize, cater, publicize, and manage these events. For some people, this hands-on experience is going to be more relevant than public speaking for their resume.
Finally, both fraternities and sororities encourage teamwork and bonding amongst their members. Teamwork is the kind of trait that employers across the board will value. Naturally, businesses want to hire workers who will easily blend with their existing team and will be able to make the transition as smoothly as possible.
Joining Greek life can be very enriching personally and professionally. You’ll meet lifelong friends, have countless networking opportunities, and take part in community outreach programs. Fraternity and sorority frames and gifts are the perfect way to honor your most important college memories and will be treasured keepsakes that commemorate your Greek experience.
Volunteer work is very different from work experience. Work experience involves taking on a paid position, usually to support someone in the role that you ultimately want to work in, while volunteer work is giving your time and energy to help others in need. The willingness to work without financial compensation says a lot to a prospective employer, letting them know that you care about the work you do beyond your paycheck.
While volunteering, you will develop personal and professional skills. In some cases, volunteer work can even provide you with access to training and development opportunities that would otherwise pass you by completely. If you’re planning to enter a very competitive industry or field, volunteer work will put you ahead of many of the other candidates when businesses are reviewing your resume.
You can use volunteer work as a means of developing skills that are specific to the role that you are hoping to work in, or it can give you the chance to develop more general professional skills. For those hoping to work in science or medicine, volunteer work will almost certainly involve acting as an assistant to someone in the role you eventually want to pursue. It’s important to understand that while you might be volunteering as an assistant, you’ll still be learning a great deal about the profession, the industry, and the role’s responsibilities.
Besides the benefits to your resume, volunteer work is also a fantastic opportunity for networking. When it comes time to send out your resume to prospective employers, having a list of businesses that you already have connections with can greatly improve your chances of landing an interview. You might also meet someone who can act as a reference for you. Attaching the right name to your resume can open some surprising doors.
During the course of your time at college, there will usually be numerous opportunities to attend industry-related conferences and lectures by guest speakers. Whenever these opportunities arise, you should take advantage of them. Of course, simply saying that you attended a lecture isn’t going to do much for your resume. However, these conferences are ideal for staying on top of industry trends and networking with people in your chosen field.
Start Writing Your Resume Now
The more work you’re willing to do on your resume while you’re at college, the less you’ll have to do when you graduate and prepare for post-college life. Even if you excel academically and get very good grades, employers are increasingly looking beyond academic achievements. There are now more university graduates in the US than ever before, and our society is becoming more educated. When applicants have equal academic achievements, it’s the other items on their resume that ultimately determine who is chosen for the position. Building up your resume doesn’t have to be time-consuming or difficult, not if you take opportunities as they present themselves to you.