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No Work Experience? Here are 5 Other Things to Fill Your Resume With

There’s one age-old question that plagues many young people starting their careers: How do I get work experience without work experience? It’s a catch-22 that can make many college students and young adults feel stuck, hopeless and anxious about their futures.

But there is hope. For those of you who have yet to score your first internship or didn’t work a job in high school, you’re in luck. There are plenty of other assets worthy of your resume that will impress any employer. Here are a few add-ons that can, temporarily, take the place of a job on your resume. 

1. Volunteer Experience

Many college students will recall community service as an integral part of their high school experience, whether it was a requirement for graduation or a way to explore their passions. Just because you’re no longer in high school does not mean that those experiences aren’t still valuable today.

A display of volunteer experience can teach a hiring manager a great deal about your personality, values and work ethic.

For Amanda Goecke, a grad from Carthage College, including volunteer experience in her resume was vital since she had never previously held a job. She says, “[Volunteering] helps to show that you’re willing to do things without pay and would rather focus on the experience you gain.” In this way, you might open yourself up to unpaid internships more easily, since you’ve proven that you can find motivation in work beyond money.

Related: How to Rebrand Your LinkedIn & Make It More Useful

2. Objective Statement

Without work experience, your resume won’t clearly explain your career goals and what type of internship you’re looking for.

A strong objective statement is the perfect addition to a resume lacking in weight. Just 1-2 sentences can tell a story about your strengths, interests and aspirations. This, as a result, can make your resume more appealing to a hiring manager who might have trouble connecting the dots while navigating a list of experience in areas unrelated to your major.

Kiara Moore, a previous tech recruiter, understands the ability of an objective statement to help tailor your resume. She says, “The objective statement can be key in directing the hiring manager to focus on key qualifications that you want to stand out. For example, if you feel like it’s a stretch to say that you have any direct experience in the industry you’re targeting, the objective is an essential addition.”

Photo by Anthony Shkraba from Pexels

3. Sports

Any student-athlete will tell you that the skills they’ve gained while on a team have helped their performance not just in that sport, but also in life. The amount of commitment expected of a college sport is commendable, proving your ability to manage your time efficiently and balance your priorities.

Additionally, participating in a sport displays teamwork, perseverance and trust — all skills necessary for a successful intern at any company.

4. Student Clubs

While this may be the most obvious of all of the additional assets, it might also be the most important.

Involvement in campus organizations early on in your college career shows determination and an eagerness to take on a leadership role in your community. It is especially helpful to be involved in a club related to your industry of choice, but any organization will display your passions and interests.

Related: How to Make Your Resume Stand Out If You’ve Never Had an Internship Before

5. School Experiences

The “Education” section of your resume need not be the only place in which you discuss your college and/or high school education. Fill in some of that empty space and highlight courses you’ve taken that are related to your field of interest. This will show employers that, while you haven’t yet worked in their industry, you’re taking the steps necessary to move forward in your career via your choice in major and/or minor.

In the same vein, relevant school projects or research for a professor are equally important in showing that, when presented with a task, you can get the job done and do it well. Keep in mind that this shouldn’t be the meatiest portion of your resume, but is helpful to include if you have extra room.

It’s not easy to obtain that first job or internship, and you need to start somewhere. These tips will provide substantial material to beef up your resume and appear desirable to any employer.

Mara is a Boston native who ventured west for college, graduating from the University of Southern California in 2014 with a Bachelor's degree in Communication. She is passionate about marketing, journalism and digital media. Some of her favorite things include SoulCycle, trying new restaurants, country music and debating about the Oxford comma. To learn more about Mara, follow her on Twitter @marahyman.