You probably think your resume won’t matter until you enter the “real world”—that ambiguous time after college that your parents and professors are always referring to. Well you’re wrong! Your resume matters right now. Why? Because you can take active steps to improve your resume even if you’re still in school, making it that much easier to find a job once you graduate. Here’s how to improve your resume while in school:
Get an on-campus job during the semester.
Working while you study will show future employers that you’re not just hardworking, but also good at managing your time. Both assets are invaluable and can distinguish your resume from all the others. Working on-campus will also ease your commute time and will make the scheduling process significantly easier. Try the library, food services, the bookstore, and your major department for openings.
Find a summer job during break.
Working during the summer months is a great way to earn cash. Plus, future employers will be impressed by your no-break-needed attitude. So why waste your summer months just lounging around?
Do an internship that actually matters.
Internships, especially unpaid internships, may not sound like fun, but they’re still a great way to get experience, contacts in the industry, and reference letters—all of which will prove vital when you start applying for jobs. But remember: not all internships are created equal. Search for one with real job responsibilities in your field of study. Don’t settle for fetching coffee.
Apply for scholarships and other academic awards.
Employers aren’t just looking for qualified employees. They’re looking for qualified employees that work hard and have distinction. Fortunately, scholarships and awards—in addition to their financial benefits—come with the prestige needed to distinguish yourself. Check with your major department and your financial aid office for leads. You can also find scholarships in our Scholarship Center.
Seek out leadership positions.
Don’t settle for joining a club when you can start one on your own. Or join a club with growth potential! Start out as a regular member, but stick with it throughout your college career. Maybe by the end you’ll be president of Chess Club. Or, if you’ve got the spirit of public service, why not run for student office? Positions of power and responsibility will make your resume shine.
Summer internships are a fantastic opportunity for college students. They allow you to get your foot in the door at a company and give you first-hand experience in the working world. Remember, however, that you only have 2-3 months to deliver and gain value from your work experience—so make the most of your summer internship! Here’s how:
1. Be on time.
Although it seems self-explanatory, sleeping in during the summertime can be incredibly enticing. Fight the urge and show up to your internship on time. You’ll make a better impression and get the most out of every day.
2. Always be ready to learn.
As an intern, you’re not expected to know everything. You are, however, expected to be open to learning all that you can. Being flexible and expressing interest will help you tremendously.
3. Maintain a positive attitude.
It’s important to remain positive as an intern, even if some of your time is spent completing pesky or tedious tasks. Proving you’re enthusiastic and hard working will lead to more significant responsibilities over time.
4. Volunteer yourself.
If you ever find yourself bored and without work, offer your services to your supervisor/boss. Come to them with well-thought out ideas and prove yourself as an independent thinker and worker.
5. Keep a journal/work notebook.
Taking notes is the key to success in any internship. Not only will this help you keep organized, it gives you something to look back on when updating your resume!
Remember that every person in your office and every professional connection you make can be useful to you in the future. Introduce yourself and have conversations. The more of a mark you make, the more they’ll think about you during hiring season. Not to mention these people will most likely be your references when applying for jobs in the future.
Getting educated is hard work. Unfortunately paying for it is even harder. That’s why summer is a good time to replenish your bank account. And yes, we know it’s only March. But planning ahead is the best way to secure summer employment. Here are tips to help:
1. Apply early.
There’s one mantra to remember when looking for a summer job: the earlier you apply, the better. Most students are looking for summer jobs and there may not be enough for everyone.
2. Take advantage of the seasonal hiring surge.
Many restaurants, resorts, camps, and parks need students for temporary summer positions. Take advantage of that hiring surge by applying at these places first.
3. Know where else to look.
Summer means lots of people are leaving on vacation, which means there may be a lot of part-time or temporary work available. Check with libraries, banks, and your own college campus for opportunities.
Tell people you’re actively looking for work, whether that’s your parents, your parents’ friends, your professors, guidance counselors, or any other adult in your life. They may know of availabilities. And better yet, they may serve as a reference, which is especially important if you haven’t had a job before.
5. Practice interviews ahead of time.
Interviews can be stressful. That’s why you should practice ahead of time. Have your parents or friends ask you questions while you answer them on the fly. Also consider asking a teacher or guidance counselor to help if you’re looking for more realistic preparation. Check out this blog post to learn how to ace odd interview questions you might be asked!
Good luck and happy searching!
It’s that time of year again: cover letter time. Whether you’re applying for an internship or a job out there in the real world, a solid cover letter could get your foot in the door of a potential employer. Without a doubt, the key to snagging an interview is making a good first impression. And that first impression is your cover letter. To ensure that yours is as effective as possible, heed the following:
1. Show your interest. Because you’re likely applying to a number of jobs or internships, it might be tempting to send the same letter to each one. While it’s okay to have your cover letter imply the same goals, it should be specific, and should show why each specific job you’re applying to is interesting to you, and also a good fit. You can do this by researching your potential employer’s website, and by finding out what’s important to them.
2. Show off, but not too much. There’s a fine line between boasting and selling yourself short, neither of which are good things. In your cover letter, you have to be able to show you have the skills for the prospective job. To do so, choose one or two strong examples from your previous experience and demonstrate how you did that job well. Then, talk about how you’ll use those skills to do the job you’re applying for even better. In other words, you want your potential employer to know that they can trust you to excel without coming across as a braggart.
3. Explain. If there’s a blemish or weak spot on your resume (for example, if there are gaps in your employment history), explain your case. You don’t want your potential employer to assume the worst-case scenario.
4. A cover letter is never optional. Sometimes job and internship listings say that a cover letter is optional and that only a resume is required. Here’s a rule of thumb: set yourself apart from the rest by not only submitting a cover letter, but a stellar one.
5. Proofread. Draft your cover letter, and then draft and draft again. Something as simple as a grammatical mistake could mean the difference between getting an interview and not getting anything at all. Sounds overdramatic, but it’s true: don’t sabotage yourself by making a simple mistake.
Post-graduate life comes with many financial burdens. Not only do you have to pay for all of life’s requisites–that’s food and a place to live at the bare minimum, not to mention car payments, health insurance, and everything else–you’ve probably got student loans to pay back. That means you need a job as of yesterday, right? Here’s where to start your search.