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To state the obvious, the past year has been nothing like I imagined. As a freshman in college, I had huge plans for what I wanted to accomplish during my time here at Purdue. Internships, research opportunities, maybe seeing if I could work on projects with a professor or two. That is what I imagined. When COVID hit in the middle of my freshman spring semester, I saw all those opportunities dwindle away right in front of me. A projected “few months” turned into the last 365+ days. I had no idea how to navigate my academic and career path, but here’s what I did this fall to boost my resume in place of all the things I wanted to do.

Take online classes

There are a ton of free online classes available! I used Coursera, EdX, and Forage to enroll myself in programs over fall semester. I learned a lot of new skills and took some really fun classes that I would have never known about otherwise. These free programs can be great for preparing you for future classes, teaching you skills that you need to apply for that virtual internship you’ve been eyeing, or just picking up a new hobby like food science or learning to predict the weather.

Start your own business

This one sounds intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. I started a small business on Redbubble over quarantine, and although it was scary at first, I got the hang of it really quickly and now I’m confident in my new skills like social media management, graphic design, etc. There are a lot of great websites out there that will produce and ship out your products for you, so all you need to worry about is designing! It’s a great way to make some low-stress, passive income and you can have something cool to write on your resume!

Get involved with clubs and orgs!

The pandemic gave me a ton of extra time that I had no idea what to do with, so I thought it would be fun to explore some new things I’ve never tried before. I’m glad I did! I checked out and joined new organizations and pushed myself to get more involved in the ones I already joined last year. Being in a leadership position is great, but it’s also good to show what hobbies and interests you have outside of your academics and career plans. People want to learn more about you as an individual, not just what you’re majoring in and what academic honors you have. Even if it’s something as simple as a love for dogs, you’ll find something for it!

Find volunteer opportunities

This one takes a little bit of time to research but surf the web and find some organizations that have a mission you’re also passionate about! They might have some online volunteering opportunities that interest you. It’s definitely worth checking out! I personally really love mentoring high school students through the college application/freshman year experience because it was a resource I had available to me that I want to contribute to. I volunteered for both CollegePoint and Matriculate as a college mentor; if you’re interested in something similar, be sure to check those organizations out! My experience with mentoring was very low-stress and it was not a big-time commitment at all!

It’s easy to compare ourselves to the people around us and feel that lack of *something* that everybody else seems to have. With all these tips to boost your resume, always remember to be proud of what you’ve already accomplished! It’s totally okay to just relax and take things at your own pace; after all, this past year has been an absolute rollercoaster. Just keep doing what you’re good at. Explore new things and find new passions and you’ll be off to a great semester!

Hi! I'm Michelle, a senior at Purdue University studying Brain and Behavioral Sciences with a minor in Management. I'm from Orange County in sunny SoCal. Some of my hobbies include golfing, journaling, and singing!
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