Job descriptions tend to be specific about how many years of experience are required. If you don't meet the minimum qualifications, but otherwise feel prepared to take on this position, you may wonder: How can I gain the experience I need, if I’m not already working in a similar role? Shouldn’t my degree be enough?
In the job market, many struggle to figure out how to make themselves more employable. Applying to open positions regularly only to encounter rejection can be draining. The good news is that there are many creative and flexible ways to build experience and skills for your future career. Getting started as soon as possible is the key. Even short term, part-time, or volunteer positions can make a huge difference when you apply for your next job.
Here are six ways you can prepare for your career as a student!
Work Study Positions
It’s understandable that many adult students who have full-time commitments don’t tend to consider the benefits of a work study position at their college or university. However, maybe they should! Work study positions are flexible, federally funded, part-time employment opportunities related to a student’s course of study and career interests. They’re also a great way to build specific competencies and skills.
At Granite State College, we offer a Career Services Work Study/Work Experience program that allows you to work alongside staff within the college whether or not you qualify for Federal Work Study. For example, Jed '16 an alum who earned his degree in Business Management with an IT minor, was struggling to land a job after graduation. He contacted Career Services and joined our Work Experience program. Through our program he was able to gain recent and relevant experience within our IT department.
After several months of part-time work experience, while he continued at his existing job, Jed landed a new full-time position in his desired field of Information Technology. Jed succeeded by adding recent and relevant experience to his resume and having a stellar reference from his Granite State supervisor.
If you need to gain experience within IT, marketing, event planning, data/analytics, basic office skills, or are interested in a career in higher education, there are a variety of creative ways to gain this kind of experience right here at Granite State College.
Considering a career in the nonprofit sector or looking to gain transferable skills? Volunteering with a local nonprofit or other community group can be a great way to gain specific skills and give back, all at the same time. Plus, volunteer opportunities work around your schedule and allow you to gain a reference or recommendation from your volunteering “supervisor.”
Additionally, your fellow volunteers may prove to be excellent connections. They may work in the field you’re looking to enter, have great insights, or offer referrals or job opportunities due to your volunteering efforts.
Part-time Paid Employment
If you’re already working full-time but have a few extra hours over your weekend to devote to gaining experience, taking on a relevant part-time position can be a great asset to your resume. Gaining experience for your next desired position, even in a part-time capacity for as little as six months can greatly enhance your chances of landing in the resume yes pile.
While a full-time, summer-long internship may not work while you’re already working full-time, other kinds of internships exist that may be right for you.
Credit, non-credit, in-person, virtual, and flexible hours are all options to consider when approaching an internship. Many employers, even your current full-time employer, may be willing to be flexible with your hours/schedule in order to accommodate something else.
Contact your academic advisor about earning credit for an internship, but know that there are other flexible non-credit options that exist, as well.
Exploratory Coursework or Adding a Minor
Even if you’re not ready to take on anything extra outside of your job and coursework, there are other ways to build experience. These can include taking specific courses, such as Grant Writing to help boost your candidacy or adding a minor, which offers specialization related to your major to help you gain experience in areas where you need it.
You may also consider using course assignments to bolster your experience by strategically choosing project topics that will aid your future career. Check with your academic advisor to determine which options will work best for you in your current degree program.
Certificates and Training
If you’re looking to add tech skills to your resume, there are a variety of ways to build these in your spare time. Lynda.com is one online option where you can learn anything from Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, to IT coding languages, blogging, communications, graphic design, and more. Many fields have certificate programs that you can complete on your own time which will give you a much needed credential.
Strategically Adding Value to Your Resume
There are a variety of ways that you can strategically add value to your resume and candidacy for future positions and with a little forethought and planning you’ll be on your way to gaining great additional experience and skills! Starting the planning process early in your degree program is key so that you’ll have time to pull together all the different experience and skill-building pieces, making you an excellent candidate for your future career field once you graduate.