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Rerun: What Counts as Experience on a New Grad's Resume

Genius at work(This post originally ran April 7, 2010. Here it is again in case you missed it the first time around.)

If you took advantage of an internship during your undergrad 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

    New college graduates can get away with using coursework for experience. To do this, add it as a section heading on your resume, and list all the college courses you've taken that are somewhat relevant to the job you're seeking. For example: If you want a writing job, you can list any English writing and Communications courses you took that taught you something about the language 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! Seriously though— 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

    You develop negotiation and management techniques when you're active on the student council, which are great skills to transfer into your first professional job. If you were elected into a position, your communication skills are also worth highlighting since you effectively convinced people to vote for you.

    Academic Clubs

    Event planning for spring or holiday breaks, organizing blood drives, or even handing out t-shirts can count. Think out of the box and get creative with what qualifies as experience.

    Volunteer Work
    The effort you put in to help your community can be easily transferred as accomplishments to your resume. Check out this post to find out more.

  3. Irrelevant Part-Time Jobs

    That's right. I just told you to put irrelevant information on your resume. Believe it! Again, only new college grads can get away with this. Listing your part-time jobs shows you have some kind of work ethic, even if it has nothing to do with the jobs you're applying for. 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 create a professional title for each of them. (I'm talking about the extracurricular or volunteer roles that might not have had titles.) 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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