How to Turn College Work Into Work Experience on Your Resume

During my four years of college, I worked several jobs, both during the school year and during the summer when I returned home where I grew up. My roles ranged from restaurant waiter to writing center employee. When it came time to write my first professional resume, I was at first nervous about my lack of real experience.

This post was originally published on the Muse website .

Luckily, it didn’t take me long to see how my odd jobs (yes, even working at fancy country club weddings) actually bring in quite a bit. As long as I got the right words, I could sell myself, even though I couldn’t boast editorial internships or freelance writing appearances.

If you’re gearing up for graduation , you might be wondering how you can effectively market yourself to hiring managers based on a couple of casual jobs on campus or off campus. There is that externship you had in the summer between sophomore and junior high, and the campus guides you led in high school, but mostly you worry that your messy experience hasn’t taught you any noteworthy professional skills. Here’s the thing: all of your job responsibilities can be turned into transferable skills. Seriously – even a cat seat or a nude model for the art department.

With this entry-level media sales position as an example, I’ll show you how to put all of these skills to good use.

Now that you see what the company is looking for in the ideal candidate, you can start converting all of your previous experience into relevant list items that highlight all the checkboxes you’ve already checked.

Work on campus

Did you eat for free in exchange for working in the school cafeteria? Maybe you were serving food or reading food cards. Maybe you even did the cleaning at the end of your shift. Or maybe you worked as a salesman in a bookstore for three years in a row? Whatever odd job you do on campus, proudly include it on your resume – with the appropriate skills, of course. All of these different positions on campus require you to be reliable, which is what every employer wants. Team player? This is what every hiring manager is looking for.

If you were paid to clean or work in food service, you are a person who pays great attention to detail and can handle sometimes boring and time-consuming tasks; you, my friend, are persistent. Going to the bookstore registry means that you have probably used your problem-solving skills on a regular basis – remember that barcode that was not displayed on the system? An economics textbook with missing pages? – but you also needed to be good and comfortable doing things that didn’t bother you, and not attach much importance to it.

Do you know what it is called (and praised)? Adaptability? Many companies are not looking for a corporate cutter employee, but a team member who can withstand the blows, who can try to deal with a clogged sink or bump when the cleaning crew does not show up and there is an investor. meeting in half an hour. Do not underestimate the skills gained from often bleak or drudgery. Play it right and there will be reckoning.

Let’s say you want the above job and have worked in food service for four years. Here’s how you can adapt this part of your resume:

Food Service Worker at the University of Michigan – September 2013 – May 2016

– Managed 5 incoming food deliveries every week and talked to the delivery service by phone

– Collaborated with coworkers to schedule daily cleaning tasks, making sure no one had to work beyond their established schedule

– Learned how to work with three different types of registers during the first week.

– Analyzed the flow of students to better prepare for opening hours and make sure everyone gets through the queue quickly

Administrative Roles

From sitting at a desk in a research library, registering and lending books to being part of a campus IT team repairing computers and teaching students in subjects you excel in, if you held an administrative-type job while in college, it’s likely what you are I have already begun to create a story about your skills based on your work history. In terms of skill definition, administrative roles are a little easier to track. However, you want to make the most of your work, even if it seems like being a teacher’s assistant is easy.

Your experience of helping a college professor suggests that you are, of course, a competent researcher, but it also indicates that you are attentive to detail and discerning. You know how to organize and organize your data, and what’s more, if your research leads to a completed project, you have the knack for taking a big project to completion. This tells the recruiter that you are focused and productive.

Working as a tutor or at your university writing center demonstrates your leadership skills. If you’ve participated in the latter, then you certainly can boast of your excellent writing and communication skills – two things that almost all hiring managers care about. If you’ve had IT experience but aren’t really trying to find work in the IT department, that’s okay. It’s great to have these skills, but it can also be said that you’ve learned to multitask, figured out how to get along with your boss and manage your time while keeping up with technology trends.

Again, let’s see what you would like if you wanted the job above, if most of your work experience is with a writing center employee:

University of Central Florida Writing Center Staff – January 2014 – May 2016

– Worked with over 100 undergraduate and graduate students on writing assignments on various topics.

– Forged relationships with 25 regular students at the writing center, which helped me understand their preferred writing style and voice

– Maintained detailed journals of each session and used them to work with new students who had similar writing problems.

– Encourages students to succeed by encouraging them to compete against themselves and make fewer and fewer mistakes with each new job.

Restaurant, retail or babysitting functions

Whether you’ve served tables, served a bar, worked at retail every holiday season, or looked after the kids of a school president, you must have amazing time management skills, my friend. Everyone knows these hours are tedious and the clients (yes, I include small children here) are difficult at times. To move from class to study group, to the obligatory meeting in your Greek home, to the most popular bistro in town, you have to be more than responsible; you have to be single-minded and ambitious – and as far as how to label these transferable skills, you have to thrive under pressure.

Working in a restaurant teaches teamwork , just like retail. Both of them also give you the skills you need to deal with difficult situations (ahem, people) without losing your composure. Tell your boss-to-be about how you cleverly navigated the situation with an angry couple trying to retrieve an apparently used and nearly destroyed juicer, and you’ll be seen as someone who can find a way out of even the most annoying workplace puzzles.

Babysitting is, of course, a little different from restaurants or shops, but there are similarities. First of all, you need to be prepared for anything. Who knows when a sick child suddenly appears in your arms or you have to break up a quarrel between the twins? If you’ve ever sat with a child, you know how to think on your feet. You probably have amazing conflict resolution skills and know how to communicate with all types of people. You have witty listening and persuasive skills (any salesperson ?). Just because you can’t count an office internship as a mark on your belt doesn’t mean you can’t qualify for the same job as the people who did it. It doesn’t matter how you learned your skills; what matters is that you have learned them.

Last but not least, let’s take a look at what the peers would like to see on your hypothetical resume:

Server Restaurant at Blue Plate Café – October 2012 – April 2016

– Worked with both serving staff and serving staff to prepare the restaurant for dinner three times a week.

– Increase sales by check by intelligently and passionately discussing menu additions and specialties invented by the chef.

– Always greeted each new table with enthusiasm and friendly.

Whatever you do while looking for a job , don’t let college work get in the way of your professional success – it just isn’t necessary. The skills and lessons you learned “before” your career started can often be for a lifetime. Check out the job listings, identify the skills you need in your job description, and start turning your seemingly random experience into a cohesive work story that makes you an asset wherever you graduate.

How To Turn Your Typical College Job Into Legitimate Work Experience On Your Resume | Muse


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