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5 Expert-Approved Ways To Boost Your Resume This Fall

Fall semester is here, and school is back in session! If you’re entering the semester sans internship, don’t fret. While you may feel like everyone else has an opportunity lined up, there are plenty of activities you can do during the semester to keep your resume up-to-date, interesting, and most importantly, competitive. Here are five tips on how to boost your resume in college that will keep you ahead of the curve!

1. Find leadership experience

Pursuing a leadership role in college can be a wonderful opportunity to grow outside of your academic major and boost your resume. Rachel Walden, M.Ed., the Career Development Specialist at Belmont University, tells Her Campus, “Employers seek job candidates who have student leadership experience, because it shows that you can balance multiple priorities at once — schoolwork, student leadership, and often, an internship or part-time job.”

Marianne Brigola, M.S., the former Assistant Director of Career Services for the School of Communications at Elon University, tells Her Campus, “Leadership roles can demonstrate many transferable skills, like teamwork, initiative, people skills, mediation, and project management.” For example, being your club’s secretary may sound dull at first, but it’s a role that might require you to be accountable, organized, and a team player — all of which are great skills to demonstrate your professional ability.

Remember, there are many ways to gain leadership experience in a student organization even if there aren’t any actual leadership positions available. Brigola tells Her Campus, “Leadership doesn’t have to mean leadership of the organization as a whole. It can also be demonstrated by your willingness to lead a committee, organize an event, or manage publicity efforts for your organization. Leadership can take on many different forms!”

2. VOLUNTEER

Volunteering is awesome, and the career experts I spoke with agree. “I highly recommend that students volunteer during their time in college,” Walden tells Her Campus. “Not only is it a great way to gain relevant skills and experience, but it is a great way to give back to the community!”

Brigola agrees. “It’s something that employers like to see on resumes, as it not only demonstrates civic engagement and social responsibility, but it also tells employers what you’re passionate about,” she says. “Sometimes students come in with the misconception that it’s not as valuable as an internship or another type of professional experience. However, volunteering can be just as valuable as an internship in developing transferable skills and exploring potential career options.”

Walden recommends finding volunteer opportunities that align with your career goals, that way, volunteering can do double duty: you’ll give back while gaining transferable skills. “Selecting volunteer opportunities or projects that will allow you to gain a new skill is a great idea and can add to your resume,” she says. “If you’re interested in pursuing a career in marketing, volunteer to create a nonprofit’s monthly online newsletter using Emma or Constant Contact. Interested in graphic design? Volunteer to create flyers for a nonprofit’s upcoming fundraising event using InDesign or Illustrator.”

When deciding how you’ll allocate your time to volunteer projects, think critically about how much time you’ll commit to an organization. “I recommend volunteering with the same organization over a period of time,” Walden says, “as it shows employers that you can commit to an organization or cause and see events or initiatives through to completion.”

In addition to a steady time commitment, be sure to pick volunteering options that you’ll actually enjoy. “Students [should] choose volunteer opportunities that they are interested in, whether it relates to your major or not,” Brigola says. “You will have a more meaningful experience if you’re interested in what you are doing, rather than simply volunteering to check it off a list.”

3. TAKE AN INDUSTRY-SPECIFIC CLASS

If your academic schedule is light this semester, consider taking a skills-based course to boost your resume. For example, if you’re interested in working an editorial job someday, taking an online class on how to use Photoshop can help you appear even more qualified for future jobs.

“Research the industries or professions you’re interested in exploring, and choose classes that will help build skills specific to your interest area,” Brigola says. “For example, if you’re interested in exploring marketing or public relations, look into courses that can help you gain a better understanding of media analytics. If you’re interested in careers in cinema or entertainment, consider taking a specific editing course that will give you some familiarity with editing equipment and software.”

If you’re not sure where to start, tech skills are always good to have. “Lynda.com is a great resource for students who want to learn new computer programs, software, or to brush up on existing skills,” Walden says. “Being proficient in Microsoft Office, Mac programs, graphic design programs such as InDesign or Illustrator, Photoshop, HTML, CSS, e-mail marketing software such as Emma or Constant Contact, WordPress or Blogger are all great skills to have.”

4. CONTINUE WORKING FOR A PREVIOUS EMPLOYER IN A SMALLER CAPACITY

If you just finished a summer internship, it may seem counterintuitive to keep working for the same company once you start school again. However, helping your former employer with small projects can be a great (and low-lift) way to boost your resume during the school year. By continuing to work for your former employer, you’ll gain resume longevity by having an employer on your resume for an extended period of time — plus, you’ll stay top of mind when openings become available!

To ask a previous employer if you can contribute to a project they’re working on, call or send a quick email to your supervisor. For example:

Hello [supervisor name],

I hope this note finds you well! How are things going at the museum? I hope the exhibition planning is going well for the traveling show in November. Once again, it was a pleasure interning with your company this summer. I learned so much about X, Y, and Z. 

I’m writing today because I have some free time in my schedule this semester, and I’m curious if you might need assistance with any small projects in the department. My Monday afternoons are free after 2 p.m., so I would be happy to help with filing, admin work, or event set-up for the evening lectures if you like. I’d also be happy to assist with research projects remotely and brainstorm ideas for any new programs coming up, if you’d find that helpful.

These are just some ideas, but I’d love to connect further about the opportunity to continue working together. Thank you, and I hope to speak with you soon!

Best,
Rachel

When asking about potential projects, remember to make your availability clear so you don’t overcommit yourself. Give suggestions about the work you’d like to do as is appropriate for your industry. If those turn out to be areas where your previous employer needs help, perfect. If not, be open to some other options that he or she may have in mind for you to contribute in a different way.

5. LINK UP!

LinkedIn is the best website for professional networking,” says Walden. “It’s a great way [for students] to showcase their skills and experience, research career paths, connect with individuals, and stay on top of industry and hiring trends.” Not only is LinkedIn great for networking, but you can use it as a way of showcasing your online portfolio in addition to a one-page professional resume. This, in itself, is a fantastic way to make your experiences look impressive to future employers. Plus, keeping in touch with your professional references and listing them on your resume can be a great way to stand out from the crowd!

If you’re looking for valuable ways to boost your resume this semester, look no further than these expert-approved tips. While college can present a lot of pressure to have the “perfect” experiences and resume, remember, there are many ways to get experience and pursue your passions in college. You are much more than what’s on that sheet of paper, so enjoy your college experience and use your resume as a way of highlighting your awesome accomplishments along the way.

Experts
Rachel Walden, M.Ed., Career Development Specialist, Belmont University
Marianne Brigola, M.S., Former Assistant Director of Career Services, Elon University

Rachel is a recent graduate of Butler University where she received her B.S. in Arts Administration. She loves being part of the Her Campus team! During college she had a variety of internships working at organizations like the Indianapolis Museum of Art and the online fashion and beauty magazine College Fashion. Currently, she serves as a Campus Ambassador for Button Me Up, a handmade jewelry company operating out of San Diego. She also works as a contributing writer for Levo Leauge. Rachel is on an endless search for the next book to read, the next latte to drink, and the next cupcake to eat. Any suggestions, please send them along! Follow her on Twitter @rkwendte.
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