Entering college is seriously intimidating for a multitude of reasons. For some, you have never experienced college-level academic settings. For many, you are living cities and states away from your hometown. For most, you know absolutely none of your new peers. And for all, the fear of “what am I going to do for the rest of my life” is looming.
When I first entered university I luckily had a general idea of what I wanted to do, but I became extremely insecure as I quickly found myself already unqualified in comparison to my fellow students. The main reason for this was not that I was less intelligent or driven than them, but that many students had previous internship or otherwise relevant experience prior to college.
If you have not come to this realization there really is no reason to fret. Although interning is extremely beneficial as it gives you an understanding of the field you might work in, it is not the end all be all, especially in your first few years at school. There is much more that can be done to make your resume more appealing to future employers and even help you land an internship as well. Here are five tips Her Campus has compiled to bring you one step closer to your dream internship!
- Get Involved On Campus
Although classroom learning is valuable, there is nothing that will prepare you for your future career more than getting involved in clubs and organizations that are actually oriented towards that field of study. Whether you are looking to pursue a career in public relations, business, environmental science, art, or yoga, there is probably a club on your campus full of students that share that same passion. If there isn’t, maybe you could even make a club of your own (now THAT would look great on a resume)! At my university, most organizations provide students with workshops, presentations, and guest speakers, all of which can help you build your resume, increase your industry knowledge, and even get you in contact with a potential employer. So lookout, you never know what you can find at a random Tuesday night meeting.
- Learn How to Network
While you are at it getting involved in campus activities, you might as well make valuable connections that will extend past your college experience!
It can be tremendously valuable to build a rapport and keep in contact with guest speakers, but don’t forget to do the same with your fellow students, because one day they may be able to offer you a job as well. To build connections, ask questions, be attentive and make sure to get their information (like LinkedIn’s or emails) after events you go to. This way, you can keep both the professionals you meet and your peers alike in the know about what you are personally working on.
- Develop More “Hard” Skills
According to Indeed, hard skills are “related to specific technical knowledge and training.” Such skills include knowledge of a database, understanding of a programming language, being bilingual/multilingual, having the capacity to use design tools like Photoshop and much more. Hard skills are not always as valuable in one field as opposed to another, whereas soft skills like problem solving and teamwork can be applicable everywhere. When you are looking to gain new hard skills, make sure they are relevant to your future career goals. Some jobs or internships may require things like a deep knowledge of photo editing tools while others find it more important for students to be excel certified.
- Build An Online Portfolio
Portfolios are commonly associated with the arts, but they can actually be quite useful to students in many different fields of study. I remember in my sophomore year when one of my marketing professors told me to “get my writing samples together.” I immediately thought “Huh?” followed by “But I’m a business major!” My professor advised me to do this to display my interest in the fashion/cosmetics industry, but it can be applicable to students of communications, music, psychology, film and so much more. Portfolios also are not limited to just writing samples, they can include graphic design work, photography, filmography, or whatever other skills you would like to demonstrate to future employers.
So, how do you make an online portfolio? There are plenty of sites to use such as Blogger, Wix, Weebly and Squarespace; however, WordPress is probably the most popular of them all. WordPress offers a variety of themes on their own platform, but if you are looking for a more individualized approach you can purchase one from a third-party site (I personally got mine from 17th Avenue Designs).
Knowing how to use WordPress is valuable as it demonstrates an understanding of website building and SEOs. It may take some time as WordPress is slightly less user-friendly than some of its competitors (Squarespace, for example), but it can be a valuable hard skill to include on your resume. Whichever platform you choose, remember to highlight your best work and make it easy for those who visit your site to contact you by including things like your LinkedIn and email.
This tip is something that I had not even thought of until I heard my peers mention it, but it can be exceptionally helpful, especially if you have yet to foster any relevant experience. There are volunteering opportunities in all sorts of industries, whether it be politics, medicine, or even the arts. You can find volunteer opportunities in two primary ways. For one, try asking around at local businesses or institutions to figure out how you could help, or you could look online. It can never hurt to show how willing you are to help out!
Like mentioned previously, internships can be fantastic opportunities. They can connect you to wonderful people, teach you valuable hard skills, and even set you up for a job after college. If you don’t have an internship, though, there is really no need to worry. With these tips, you can boost your chances of getting an internship and set yourself up for a successful career. The effort you put into preparing yourself for the future will come back to you tenfold.