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Making the Most out of College: Your Ultimate Guide to Resume-Building

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Columbia Chicago chapter.

I’ve been attending college for exactly one year now, currently in the second week of my sophomore year. In that one year, I’ve had four successful internships and gotten one job in my chosen career path.

Oh, and did I mention I only just turned 19 years old last week? Plus, I’m part of two clubs on-campus and getting ready to study abroad for three weeks in Paris? So, yeah, it’s safe to say that I’ve got the resume-building thing down pat by this point.

As a fellow future female CEO, I’m here to impart some tips and tricks for you to build up that resume or CV before those four years are over and you’re brutally shoved into the “real world.”

1. Join a club. Or, better yet, start one!

Gif courtesy of HerCampus

Clubs are so easy to join while you’re in high school, but they often get shoved to the backburner in college while you balance classes and fun. Joining clubs in college, though, can be an easy add-on to your resume that shows you’re passionate about your interests. Want to be an environmental scientist? Join an eco-friendly club! Want to be a journalist? Join your college chapter’s Society of Professional Journalists!

If you look on your school’s website and there are no clubs that interest you, make one! Founding a club at your college shows that you have leadership and organizational skills. Often, all you have to do is fill out some paperwork for your school and get your friends to join. Need an idea of a club to found? How about a Her Campus chapter!

2. Do a study or volunteer abroad program

Gif courtesy of Ad Grad Life

Most colleges offer a ton of different study abroad programs, some of which can range from a few weeks long to a semester-long to a summer to a whole year-long program. Not only is studying abroad a once-in-a-lifetime experience, it also shows future employers or grad school admissions boards that you have cultural awareness and great ambition.

3. Volunteer locally

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Volunteering doesn’t stop being useful on your resume once you’re accepted to colleges. Continuing to do volunteer work in your field of interest, again, shows PASSION. If you’re an education major, go volunteer at an after-school program. If you’re a political science major, go volunteer on a campaign. If you’re a nursing or medical student, go volunteer at a hospital!

4. Go to your college’s career center

Gif courtesy of Daily Edge

College career centers can be hit or miss, honestly, but it’s definitely worth seeking out some guidance from those who are there to help you kick off your careers. See if the career center knows of any internship or job openings in your field, and ask to be put on any internship/job email list they might have to get instant notifications of new openings.

5. Get to know your professors & classmates

Gif courtesy of Giphy

Oftentimes, the professors in the classes for your major are either active in the field still or were in the field recently. All the same, sometimes professors will recommend students to their friends still in the biz, so get to know them as best you can so YOU become that recommendation. Same with your classmates, if they have a job somewhere great they can tell you about any openings and put in a good word for you when you apply.

6. Apply, apply, apply!

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Speaking of applying — DO IT! Apply to as many jobs, internships, fellowships, you name it, that you possibly can. My suggestion is to set aside a weekend to do a deep dive on the Internet for as many opportunities as possible, compile all the applications materials you can and then APPLY!

A trick I’ve learned when applying to high-application-traffic openings is to email one of the people responsible for choosing applicants. Email them with a question — it can be anything — but do it in a way that makes your name stand out to them. After they answer, email back and thank them profusely. This way, after you apply, you can send them a quick email message giving them a heads up to look for your application. Works like a charm every time *maniacal laugh.*

7. Find an entry-level job

Gif courtesy of Best Animations

If you’re like me, you don’t want to be wasting your time working at a coffee shop or swiping cards at the campus library when you could be getting valuable entry-level experience at a job in your career field. Instead, apply to entry-level jobs, paid internships or even offer to shadow someone at an organization or company that will provide great experience right off the bat. Getting this entry-level experience right away not only allows you to build up a superb resume and climb the corporate ladder, but it also helps in classes when you have experiences that no one else your age does.

8. Do something unique

Gif courtesy of Giphy

Probably one of the most important things when it comes to resume-building while in college is to do something unique, something that future employers will ask you about in job interviews that will make them want to hire you; something that will set your grad school application apart from the thousands of other internship-collecting, job-hoarding, club-making applicants. This aspect is really up to you and depends entirely on your career path. Some of the unique things I plan to add to my resume are fellowships, scholarships, publication credits, areas of expertise and maybe even the Disney College Program (yet another amazing resume-building opportunity)! So, get to it!

Alexandra Yetter

Columbia Chicago

Alexandra is currently a student at Columbia College Chicago where she is underway to earn a major in journalism with a concentration in news and features, as well as studying French language and culture. There is nothing she loves more than wandering around cities, curling up with a good book, and writing for hours.
Briana Kennedy

Columbia Chicago '19

I am a Columbia College Chicago student majoring in Advertising and double minoring in Marketing and Social Media & Digital Strategy. I am currently a strategy intern for Fusion92. In my free time, I enjoy reading, running, watching Netflix, exploring Chicago, and finding the cutest coffee shops.