Have you ever felt like your resume doesn't have enough experience listed or substance to make you stand out? Like you're REALLY struggling just to get your resume to fill up enough space to make one full page. Have you ever felt like you didn't get a job or interview simply because you didn't have any "experience", but wonder how are you supposed to get experience if no one will help you get experience in the first place??? If so, today's blog is for you! Today I'm going to talk about 10 ways you can start building your resume and experience portfolio NOW, to help you get internships and/or full-time opportunities in your preferred area of interest.
If you're more of an audio learner, then feel free to click below the link below to listen to the audio version of this post on my YouTube channel @Tips_ByTaylor. Don't forget to like & subscribe!!
So unfortunately, those recruiters were right. The fastest and possibly best way to get a new job and experience is to first HAVE experience. BUT it doesn't necessarily have to be in that same field. You can gain experience by simply getting involved and doing things in your local community or at your school/university.
Below I have listed and ranked 10 things you can do now in the next 0-365 days to start building your resume. Ranked in order of simplicity (1 being the easiest to start now and 10 being the hardest).
#1 - Volunteer in Your Community
Volunteering is maybe one of the simplest and fastest ways to add experience to your resume and support your community. Start by searching "volunteering in" [your city], or narrow your search based on your interests. Often times you'll find yourself able to volunteer as early as the next 1-7 days, whether by yourself or in a group. If you're able to volunteer somewhere consistently or even become a leader, then more power to you, that'll look amazing on your resume! Below are a few examples of places you can look to volunteer at.
Example Volunteering Opportunities Based on Interests
coach/ref local kids club or little league
Education - science, arts, literature, etc.
tutor, mentor, or coach youth
musem tour guide
garden or farm
Community clean up at beach, local highway, park, community center
Political / Religious
political campaign team
local church, temple, or sanctuary
Helping or talking to people
Senior citizen home or veterans home
Building with your hands
Habitat for Humanity
Companies understand that people who volunteer are typically hardworking and go above and beyond what is asked. They care about others, have the ability to pick up on things quickly, and are not afraid to get their hands dirty. They are good managers of time, because they are able to volunteer on top of all their other commitments in life. Should you become a leader or coordinator, you'll also gain exceptional leadership and coordinating skills, very applicable to any position you apply to.
#2 - Complete a Project
If you are enrolled in a university, then you have likely had at least one project or lab assignment for every class you've taken each semester. Add those all up, and that's a lot of relevant experience! Next time you get assigned a project, take it a little more seriously and even consider being the team lead. Make sure to really understand the purpose of the project, the solution, results, and your individual contribution to the project.
Projects May Include
Engineering Senior Design
Business Development Plans
Lab Reports - engineering & fundamental sciences
Class projects for any relevant major/course
These projects will highlight your competencies and showcase real examples where you applied and tested your knowledge and skills from the classroom.
#3 - Join a Committee
Becoming a committee member is one of the easiest ways to get involved in an organization and gain experience you can add to your resume. Typically it just requires asking or signing up, and that's really about it. You'll be able to work with the executive board and leaders of the organization to help plan events, raise money, and retain members. Below are different committees you might be able to join in an organization.
Types of Organization Committees
Membership services committee
Communications & records committee
Planning & events committee
#4 - Join a Competition Team
If you are one who loves competition, there's plenty of ways to tap into your competitive side and join an organization, team, or club that will expand your network but also help you add experiences, awards, and achievements to your resume. Many of these offer scholarships, funding, or grants as well as travel opportunities to compete regionally and nationally.
Example Competitions, Clubs, or Teams Based on Interests
Programming, Engineering, or Cyber-Security
Robotics (i.e. IEEE)
Car competitions (i.e. AIChE, NSBE Jr)
Pitch Competition (i.e. Toyota, MIT, Arch Grants)
Education & Oratory
Walk on or try-out for your university's or college's sports team
Track & field, baseball, basketball, football, tennis, volleyball, softball, swimming, diving, golf, bowling, cheerleading, gymnastics, lacrosse, soccer, rowing, horse-riding, etc.
Band (marching, jazz, etc.)
Dance - drill team, step team, or color guard
Art - mostly individual
Competition helps instill confidence in many of its competitors and can help develops several skills including design & analytics, critical thinking, ability to work well with others, presentations, etc.
#5 - Learn a Technical Skill
For those who are technically savvy and enjoy learning, invest in yourself to learn a new skill! Websites like LinkedIn offer FREE training for some softwares, while many schools or universities offer free liscences and courses for these programs. Take advantage of the opportunity to fine tune technical skills that could help you with future positions in the workplace.
Technical Softwares & Programs
C++ or C#
Aspen Plus / Aspen Hysys
Excel - v-lookups, pivot tables, etc.
#6 - Get a Leadership Position
Similar to joining a committee, getting a leadership position in an organization is another great way to add experience to your resume. Typically people are elected or interviewed for e-board positions in an organization, which makes it a little harder than becoming a committee member, and also requires more responsibility. Leadership positions are a great way to develop strong leadership skills and understand the relationships between team members working together to serve a membership, similar to a business serving its customers.
Common Executive Board Positions
Community Service Chair
Planning & Events Coordinator
Historian & Public Relations Chair
Social Media & Website Chair
#7 - Get Certified
In additions to programs and softwares, LinkedIn is also a great place to get FREE certifications (at least for a few months free). Try searching "certifications in" [your field of interest] and see what options pop up. If you have the economic means or support, you should look into getting certified. Certifications are sometimes just as valuable as a college education or a great way to accelerate your growth and get promoted in companies. Although these can get a little pricey sometimes depending on the type of certification or lisence, it only requires you signing up and paying for the course (in some cases having some experience). Whenever possible, try to seek funding from your current job, university, sponsors, etc to pay for your certification course, especially the further you advance in your career.
#8 - Part-Time Job
If you find yourself struggling to find a paid internship or full-time opportunity, you might try getting experience in the work force working part-time. Although the skill sets and requirements may differ from your desired line of work, part-time jobs teach you a lot about hard-work, working in teams, leadership, customer service, safety, quality & conformance, delivering to customer needs, and many other fundamental skills applicable to the corporate world. You will have to interview and apply for a part-time position, however it does not always require as much experience to apply.
Possible Part-Time Jobs
Summer camp counselor
Resident advisor (RA) or community advisor (CA)
Tutor, teacher's assistant (TA), or supplemental instructor
Technology Support (i.e. computer lab assistant)
Cafeteria or fast-food employee
Server or bartender
#9 - Research or Lab Assistant
Research can be a paid or non-paid opportunity to work in a lab or research center with professors or scientists to discover, test, or assess technology, ideals, theories, or new discoveries. Many universities and colleges offer research opportunities during the summer or throughout the school year. Research is not limited to only those who want to become experts and pursue their masters or doctorates. It's a great way to learn and get hands on experience quickly. For those looking for an internship or full-time opportunity but lacking experience, research is a great way to boost your resume.
#10 - Start a Small Business
Starting a business as a college student speaks to a student's creativity, ambition, dedication, and hard-work. This is not an easy task to start, and certainly not any easier to sustain and grow. Students who start a business in college can add this to their resume when they don't have much experience to reveal these characteristics about themselves, including strong leadership, entrepreneurial, finance, marketing, and decision-making skills. Although including ownership of a business can sometimes be a slippery slope when added to your resume (possibly suggesting you don't plan to work long-term for a company), when phrased desirably and when you have little to no experience on your resume, early in your career (or during a time gap), it can help be beneficial and help you stand out to recruiters.
Well everyone, that is the end of my list and my top 10 ways you can work towards adding experience to your resume now! Hopefully you learned something from this article and can start planning out your next 30-300 days to start building onto your resume. Until then, you can use any previous experiences similar to any of items listed above to start with a solid resume.
Take care, and make sure to stay tuned for my next post and video next week! Make sure to subscribe so you never miss a post.