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What Counts as Experience on a College Grad's Resume

Genius at workIf you took advantage of an internship during your college years, you've already got something great to list under the Experience section of your first professional resume. Employers put a lot of weight on internships (if they're relevant) since they prove that you were interested in your career path well before you received your degree.

But what if you don't have an internship to vouch for your experience? What if the only jobs you've had involved manning a cash register or serving up pizzas? Fear not! Here are a few things you can add to your resume that count as experience:

  1. Relevant Coursework

    Only college students can get away with coursework that qualifies as experience. You can add this as a new section heading on your resume, and list all the college courses you've taken that are at least somewhat relevant for the job you're seeking. For example: If you want a writing job, you can list any English writing and Communication courses you took that taught you something about the language, and something about communicating through media.
     
  2. Extracurricular Activities

    Sorority/Fraternity Roles
    No, your medal for Most Creative Keg Stand doesn't count, but congratulations on that accomplishment! But if you served as your fraternity's treasurer and you're seeking a job in accounting, you can work that into your experience. Example: Managed cash flow of fraternity funds collected through organized fundraisers.

    Student Council Involvement

    Did the experience help you learn how to negotiate? Did you manage projects or work with other groups on campus? If you were elected, your communications skills are worth highlighting since you effectively convinced people to vote for you.

    Academic Clubs

    Did you plan events on campus for spring break? Did you organize concerts or blood drives? Did you collect tickets or pass out t-shirts at those events? Think out of the box and get creative with what qualifies as experience.

    Volunteer Work

  3. Irrelevant Part-Time Jobs

    That's right. I just told you to put irrelevant information on your resume. Believe it! Again, only college students can get away with this. Listing your part-time jobs—such as scooping ice cream or mowing lawns—shows you have some kind of work ethic, even if it has nothing to do with the jobs you're applying to. Just create a separate resume heading titled "Work Experience" and place those items toward the bottom of your resume.

When you identify roles that qualify as experience, you can fabricate a professional title for each of them. (I'm talking about the extracurricular or volunteer roles that might not have had titles. Don't make up a title for a job you were paid to do!) Create titles that you think the roles would be called if someone actually hired you to do them.

If you're not sure if something you did in college qualifies as experience for your resume, ask me in a comment and our team will let you know!



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