4 Ways to Gain Work Experience Before Graduation

Image via iStock.

Image via iStock.

There are a variety of different reasons for going to college, but many students, if asked, would most likely say they anticipate making more money, having more job opportunities, and securing a better job after graduation. So how can you ensure you’re hiring material come graduation?

More than anything, employers value experience. Fortunately, there are many ways students can gain experience that demonstrates their skills and passion. If you’re looking for a boost to your post-graduation job search, consider incorporating one of the following into your plan:

1. Securing an internship

As of 2014, internships topped the list of what employers found most valuable in a potential hire. Internships allow students to gain invaluable field experience, make personal and professional connections, and, in some cases, be paid for their work. Moreover, most internships are completed for college credit—plus, an internship may even result in a job offer. It is never too early to start looking for an internship. Try to secure at least one before the second semester of your junior year, and you’ll be in good shape for senior year.

2. Volunteering

Internships can be intensely competitive and are sometimes scarce. Volunteering, on the other hand, offers an excellent alternative for gaining critically important experience while contributing to your community. While you likely won’t be paid and probably won’t qualify for academic credit, volunteering plays a critical role in the nonprofit world and demonstrates a commitment to your community and to particular causes. Did you put your graphic design skills to use to help your organization with marketing materials? Did you help organize events to benefit the organization? While not academic, these experiences can still be meaningful to employers.

3. Leading or participating in club activities

When you think about joining an on-campus club or social group, you probably haven’t given much thought to how it could influence your post-graduation career. Nevertheless, many on-campus clubs engage in fundraising efforts or other social events that require a considerable amount of administrative and managerial skills. Regardless of your major or areas of academic interest, participating in these activities can be a fun and casual way to build new skills and make important contacts. Don’t shy away from listing club activities on a resume—particularly if you held a leadership role.

4. Working a part-time job

Many students work a part-time job while they are in college, often in an effort to help pay bills or have spending money. While these are important aspects of college life, a part-time job can also be a great way to acquire important professional skills. Rather than look for a low-stress, low-wage job just to make some cash, consider looking for entry-level jobs in your field. This will give you a sense of what the work environment is like and it will give your resume a competitive edge when it comes time to find employment. Even if you’re unable to find a job within your field, find a job that gives you the chance to develop skills: marketing skills, customer service skills, conflict resolution skills. Any job that taught a life lesson can be valuable in your job search.

David White is a contributing writer for UniversityTutor.com, the world’s largest global marketplace for finding independent tutors.