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5 creative ways to get job experience in college

Time to think outside of the box!

Sarah Xu

January 24, 2024



In today's competitive job market, getting legitimate work experience on your resume is both crucial and more difficult than ever for landing your dream job after graduation. While internships are the traditional route, it's not always the easiest to secure, especially for freshmen or students with limited availability and resources. Fortunately, with the help of social media and the changing landscape of the workforce, there are new and alternative ways to gain job experience during your college years. 

Let’s get into FIVE approaches that can help you build your skillset and resume:

1️⃣ Freelancing and Gig Work:

Gen-Z is increasingly dominating the freelancing and side gig workspace, and it’s somewhere you can begin exploring hobbies, skills, and potential careers! Consider offering your skills and expertise as a freelancer or gig worker. Whether you're talented in graphic design, content writing, web development, or any other marketable skill, you can begin sharing your skills on social media and pitching yourself to organizations, clubs, and companies where you can offer your services. 

One thing to keep in mind is that when starting in freelancing at a young age, many of your first steps will be small, but every small step builds up. Even gaining experience when getting paid little to nothing is something on your portfolio and resume that will help you land that first big client! Freelancing not only provides you with hands-on experience but also allows you to set your own schedule, making it suitable for students with busy class schedules.

2️⃣ Campus Involvement:

Getting involved in on-campus activities can be a valuable way to gain experience. Join clubs, organizations, or student government where you can take on leadership roles or work on a committee that allows you to add projects to your portfolio. You'll develop essential skills like teamwork, project management, and communication while also expanding your network. These experiences can be just as impressive on your resume as an internship.

3️⃣ Part-Time Jobs:

While conventional part-time jobs like waiting tables or working retail might not seem directly related to your career goals, you can still gain valuable skills in any workplace. Highlight the transferable skills you acquire, such as customer service, time management, and problem-solving, on your resume. Employers often value these qualities in job candidates, regardless of where you gained them.

4️⃣ Volunteering and Service Learning:

Many nonprofit organizations and community initiatives welcome volunteers! Participating in volunteer work or service learning projects can provide you with real-world experience, and you can even tailor your volunteer activities to align with your career interests. Volunteering demonstrates your commitment to social responsibility and community engagement, which can impress potential employers. Within these organizations you may also get the opportunity to shadow, or even work directly with internal groups that align with your career goals!

5️⃣ Online Platforms like HomeFromCollege.com:

Home From Colleg e is a platform made FOR YOU (college students) that connects students with companies, big and small, that are wanting to work with students. Not only that, but you don’t need any prior experience to apply and get accepted to GIGs. These GIGs are short-term and ALWAYS paid, that allow you to gain relevant job experience from the comfort of your dorm room. It's an excellent option for students looking to dip their toes into various industries, gain practical experience, and even build longer relationships with these companies which can turn into future long-term internships and jobs!

In addition to the five methods mentioned above, here are some tips to help you make the most of these experiences:

💡 Set Clear Goals: Define what you want to gain from these experiences, whether it's specific skills, industry knowledge, or networking opportunities. Be sure to communicate necessary goals with your supervisor so they can help you get there! 

💡 Update Your Resume: Continuously update your resume to reflect your new skills and experiences, and tailor it to the job you're applying for.

💡 Network: Attend career fairs, workshops, and networking events to connect with potential employers and industry professionals. Connect with professors, career advisors, and professionals in your field of interest. Networking within the huge pool of people you’re surrounded by in college can provide valuable insights and mentorship.

💡 Stay Persistent: It's crucial to remain persistent and keep applying for internships and job opportunities, but don't forget that these alternative approaches can be equally valuable.

Gaining job experience in college doesn't always have to follow the traditional internship path. Exploring freelancing, getting involved on campus, working part-time jobs, volunteering, and leveraging online platforms can help you develop the skills and network you need for your future career. Remember, no experience is too small or insignificant when it comes to building a strong foundation for your future!