More and more college graduates are realizing that employers care more about their professional experience—internships, co-ops and part-time positions—than they do about their academic merits. That doesn’t mean that your grades don’t matter. Many college students are already academically competitive, but, since we’re plagued by the reality of a bleak job market, an impressive resume straight out of college is that much more important.
Career coach Megan Walls and recruiting professional Sari Klein explains that on-campus student employment often reflects your commitment to hard work and your ability to manage your time responsibly. It’s especially a sign of good character if you are working on campus to contribute to your college tuition.
Luckily, there are tons of on-campus jobs that will offer plenty of real-world experience and help you impress your potential future boss.
1. Academic Tutor
Being an academic tutor allows you to add several diverse skills to your resume, including mentoring, training and development, leadership, accountability, and responsibility. It lets potential employers know that you are a diligent student and will have no trouble transferring that energy to a full-time position after graduation. Past experience as an academic tutor is also an indication that you take pride in everything that you do. You learn quickly, communicate effectively and lend a helping hand without being asked.
The great news is that this position is open to students of almost all majors. You will interact with students from all areas of your college campus, even if your social circles are very distinct. “In any field, you need to work with people who are different, and whether you’re directly managing people or not, there can be teaching moments,” says Alaina Leary, Social Media Editor at Connelly Partners and recent graduate of Westfield State University.
Alaina adds that her experience as a tutor was useful to her almost immediately. “In my first role out of college, I was managing interns, and I had so much valuable experience because of tutoring. Tutoring is really more about growth and strategies than it is about teaching.”
In fact, tutoring is actually one of the best ways to prepare for a role in upper management or even counseling, as it is a position that allows you to work closely with people to help them actualize their full potential.
2. Peer Advisor
A peer advisor is similar to an academic tutor, in that they are responsible for guiding students through the college experience, but their focus is more on the social aspects, like on-campus engagement. One of the first people incoming freshman interact with on campus is their peer advisor, giving the advisor the power and opportunity to strongly influence someone’s first-year experience.
An outstanding peer advisor will be people-oriented, encouraging, supportive and extremely knowledgeable. If you are shy or introverted, taking a job as a peer advisor will help you step out of your comfort zone. Public speaking and presentation skills are just a few of the accolades you’ll be able to add to your resume. You will also become an expert at initiating conversations with just about anyone, especially after brainstorming tons of fun icebreakers for your students.
Chloe Castleberry, a senior at the University of Missouri-Columbia, worked as a peer advisor for her university’s journalism department. She helped incoming freshmen register for classes and answered any questions they had about what to expect at college. She strongly encourages other students to become peer advisors because, she says, “it shows that you’re good with people and you’re able to handle students that may seem scared or unsure about college.”
Bonus: Your fellow peer advisors will become some of your closest friends, cheering you on to be the best student leader you can be.
3. Resident Advisor/Assistant
Resident advisors/assistants maintain incredibly demanding jobs. They are required to live on campus as the senior resident of the residence hall and are responsible for handling all resident concerns, especially outside of regular working hours. Consequently, RAs exhibit a myriad of work-related skills, including teamwork, leadership, initiative and conflict resolution, that any potential employer will find desirable.
As an RA or former RA, your most marketable skill is your ability to communicate with others. Your experience mediating roommate disputes, comforting concerned parents, welcoming and motivating new students, organizing hall events and enforcing disciplinary action when needed proves that you are ready for just about any social situation. Future employers will be blown away by how easily you adapt to new and unexpected changes and how well you work under pressure.
Related: 7 Ways to Impress a Tough Boss
4. Teaching Assistant
Teaching assistants typically assist with professor-led classes; they grade papers, lead discussion groups and answer any questions students have about their progress. What distinguishes this position from that of an academic tutor is the added responsibility of leading a class of students rather than just working with one or two. For instance, TAs are asked to deliver consistently engaging presentations to their classes and effectively moderate insightful discussions among groups of 15 to 20 students. Additionally, TAs often endure a much more rigorous training process than tutors because they are a direct representation of the university’s academic standards and policies.
Millennial career expert Jill Jacinto advises that potential employers will be thrilled to see this experience on your resume for several reasons. First, they know that you will respect and uphold established rules and procedures. Additionally, they know that you can work well either in a team setting or individually with minimal supervision. It also doesn’t hurt to know that your professors have recognized and rewarded your intelligence and attention to detail, she explains. But most importantly, potential employers will value your ability to communicate professionally with people at every level of the organization—just like you did as a liaison between your students and the faculty and administration.
5. Library Assistant
Calling all book lovers! Library assistants help acquire, prepare and organize books, periodicals and other relevant materials for use. In addition to assisting with loans and re-shelving, they also sort and update large amounts of computer data including inter-library records, course reserves, and digital collections.
This position is ideal for students who are extremely detail-oriented and freakishly organized, or for students who wish to develop those skills. Meticulous, thorough, critical and well read, you will be an asset to any organization, especially now when so many companies are interested in data analysis.
6. Phon-A-Thon Fundraiser
Phon-A-Thon fundraisers are students who are responsible for reaching out to alumni and other potential benefactors for financial contributions on behalf of the university. Often, this money is allocated to scholarship funds, building renovations or other campus-advancement initiatives, making it essential to the institution’s success and one of the most highly demanded jobs on campus.
If you absolutely detest talking on the phone (because let’s be honest, most of us do) or if the mere thought of a phone call terrifies you, this is perfect for you! Yes, you read that right. In the real world, making phone calls is a routine part of any job. By challenging yourself to practice your phone etiquette every day, you will become more confident and more outgoing.
Jacinto adds that jobs like these—that require you to persuade a client to act (for instance, to make a donation or purchase a product)—prepare you for almost every step along your professional journey. In the interviewing stages, for example, it prepares you for the “Tell me about yourself” question because you are a natural at talking up something or someone. In fact, she says, “any job you apply for will have some element of selling you will need to address.” It’s important to know how to formulate and deliver a convincing argument—extra points if you can do it over the phone.
7. Desk Assistant
Nearly every department in every building on your college campus needs a desk assistant, so you definitely don’t want to miss out on this employment opportunity! Most new graduates, although perfectly equipped to do the job they studied for, find themselves a little out of their element when faced with administrative tasks at their first real-world positions. Things like scanning and faxing documents and manipulating complicated and often intimidating phone systems aren’t exactly on your class syllabi, but these are skills you’ll probably need regardless of your choice of profession. Jamie Kravitz, a senior at Emerson College, has been a desk assistant for almost three years. “I help promote a friendly atmosphere in the residence hall, ensure that students are safe and secure, answer parent and visitor questions, work with RAs and more,” she says.
Like most other positions on campus, working as a desk assistant allows you to work on your communication skills, especially if you tend to be more reserved. Because you are expected to be warm and personable, you will find yourself making more of an effort. Before you know it, striking up a friendly conversation will come naturally and you’ll be excited to greet new people.
Having an on-campus job listed on your resume says a lot about your character. Immediately, potential employers get insights into what kind of student you are, where your interests lie and how you can be useful at their organization.
Regardless of the type of job you maintain, they will always be interested to know what you have learned. Walls and Klein explain, “If it’s a food service job, there is much to be learned in customer service, leadership, and teamwork; similarly if it’s a job helping other students in the classroom, the student needs to use proper communication, listening and presentation skills.”
At your next on-campus job, try keeping a list of all the skills you’ve improved upon. Add these to your resume and be prepared to discuss them during future interviews.