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Gaining Experience in College: Internships, Research & Other Alternatives to Build Your Resume

Getting experience before leaving college and searching for a job is incredibly important. Besides being a great resume builder, giving you a competitive edge while job hunting, experience also allows you to discover things that you enjoy and things that you don’t before you start applying for jobs. There are many ways to gain experience during college, from part-time jobs to internships, and, while all experience is good experience, trying to gain knowledge in the field you are interested in is very beneficial to your future. However, that does not mean that internships and field experience are the only ways to become an expert in your field.

Internships, Field Experience and Practicums

Internships, field experience and practicums are probably the most common and most talked about ways to gain experience while in college. Almost every field offers these as options, meaning that just about everyone would benefit from any of them. Whether paid or unpaid, working for an organization doing work in your desired field would be beneficial to anyone. All of these opportunities are also great for networking, which may even help you get a job later down the line, even if you choose to go in a different field; it is very likely that previous coworkers and employers will want to help you to achieve your goals in the future.

On-Campus Clubs and Activities

Obviously, being involved in extracurriculars is always encouraged and can be very beneficial. Not only will you likely have a good time and make a ton of friends, but, if you join the right clubs, you will be able to gain knowledge and experience that you may not get as much of in class. I’ll use myself as an example; as a communications major with a concentration in public relations, I have some classes that cover mass communications topics and information, but by joining ECTV-40, the college’s television station, I am able to gain more experience in mass communications and become more well-rounded in my knowledge of communications as a field in general.

Classes

Hopefully, this is pretty obvious, but I’m going to delve a little deeper anyway. Most likely, classes are the reason that you’re in college in the first place. The knowledge that you gain in college classes cannot be understated. These classes are going to be the main source of your experience when you leave college, so you should get the most out of them possible. Also, don’t be afraid to discuss classes on a resume or in an interview; being able to talk about what you’ve learned in classes shows that you didn’t just show up and immediately forget everything as soon as the semester ended. Similarly, don’t be afraid to take classes that aren’t necessarily required but cover a topic or field that you may be interested in or that may help in your desired future career. Finally, many people often forget about what an asset professors can be. Many professors have worked or still work in the field they teach in and talking to them regularly outside of class can help build your knowledge, and they may remember you later when people they know are looking for interns or employees.

Research

Speaking of professors, doing research with a professor is a great way to gain experience in college. They will help you build your knowledge of the subject being studied, and continue to be seen as an asset to your professors, which allows them to think of you more easily when they get asked about students that would be good to work with by organizations. This will also make them more likely to offer a reference or recommendation letter and make it so that they have a lot of good things to talk about.

Allison Hauser

Elizabethtown '19

Allison is a senior communications major with a film studies minor at Elizabethtown College.
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