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 openings. 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.
Good luck and happy searching!
Congratulations! All that finger crossing worked out, and you got that big summer internship you were hoping for. Of course, it’s important to keep the long-term in mind, so now that you’re momentarily employed, don’t forget that you want to be employed in the future, too. With that in mind, it’s entirely possible that your internship could eventually turn into a full-time job. Here’s how to swing it:
- Make a good impression. It’s true that first impressions are everything, but if you want your internship to lead to full-time employment then you should do your best to make the best impression you can every day. Show up on time, work hard, and show that you’re grateful for the opportunity. After all, your application was likely chosen out of a huge pile of others. Show your value.
- Offer what you can. Without being overbearing, show your employer all that you’re capable of, even if it’s not in your job description. That doesn’t mean you should try to be superman or superwoman, but it’s good to show that you have a wide range of abilities.
- Keep in touch. There’s no way your current internship will lead to full-time employment if you don’t keep in touch. Make an effort to build workplace relationships so that it’s not awkward when you leave, and that keeping in touch becomes natural. That way, if a full-time position comes up you could be first in line to hear about it. You already have that foot in the door, so take advantage of it.
- Watch your lunch break. Of course you deserve a relaxing lunch break, but make sure you don’t turn it into a mini one-day vacation. If your employer notices that you’re gone from your desk more often than you should be, then the end result won’t likely be to your favor. That being said, don’t sell yourself short: definitely take a breather when you need it.
- Smile. No one wants a full-time sour puss in their midst, so even if you’re having a bad day, show that you’re a good workplace personality by smiling for the camera, or at least your fellow peers.
Let’s say you’ve just graduated college. (Congratulations!) And now let’s say you live in the middle of nowhere—or at least close to it—and so, out of necessity, you’ve applied to jobs in other places. And now let’s say you’ve managed to land a job in that faraway place. (Congratulations again!) Now, while there’s a lot to celebrate—you’re employed, after all—you need to plan ahead and eventually adjust to moving away and starting to work. Here’re some tips to help smooth the potentially rocky transition:
- Learn the lay of the land. Don’t just plop yourself down in a new location if you can help it. In other words: don’t show up sights-unseen. Instead, get a cheap bus or train ticket and go visit, walk around, and get a feel for the area. That way, it won’t be as big and scary when you’re there for real. At the very least, you’ll be able to have a few landmarks in mind so you don’t keep getting lost.
- Call around. It’s a little intimidating moving to a new place, right? So don’t be too bashful to look to others for help. For instance, if you’re moving to a big metropolitan city, then chances are you have friends in that city, or at least know of a familiar person or two. With that in mind, reach out and connect, and plan to meet up once you’re there. That way, you won’t be a stranger in a strange land. Plus it’ll be easier to get your bearings.
- Keep in touch. It’s easy to get a little flustered when you’re in a new place, or even a little homesick, so to stave off those kinds of feelings, keep in touch with your friends and family back home. If you take advantage of online tools like Skype and Facetime, and as long as you put the effort in, it’ll seem like you never even left.
- Look ahead. You have a new life ahead of you. How can that not be at least a little exciting? It’s okay to be nervous, maybe even a little scared, but hey, you’ll survive, and you’ll make the best of whatever comes your way. In other words: half the battle is simply thinking positive thoughts.
- If all else fails, view work as a social opportunity. Chances are you’re working with at least some people who are your age and have your interests. Just because they’re co-workers doesn’t mean they can’t also be friends. So if you’ve moved across the country for a job and don’t know anyone, reach out to people at the office. They, too, probably know what’s it’s like to be new.