The world of internships and jobs can often be intimidating for college students, especially those trying to apply for one without any prior work experience to list on their resumes.
How will employers and hiring managers take you seriously when you don’t have any prior jobs listed?
Millennials are often caught in this loop of “needing experience to get experience,” even in entry level job positions.
However, sometimes finding what to put on your resume to boost it is right in front of you.
Check out these 15 creative resume boosters for college students!
1. Classes taken
As a college student, you have an incredible amount of knowledge at your fingertips. Use that. If you have taken any courses which are related to the job you are applying for, or which aren’t directly related but show your wide-range of knowledge and are generally impressive, include those on your resume.
Don’t put down course code names such as ECON-127 or COMM-306, employers don’t know what that means and they vary from school to school, make sure to write out the course title.
How to list it on your resume:
Include a section labeled “Coursework in:” and list the courses you have taken which are relevant to this position. For example some of the courses on my resume look like this: “Coursework in Writing for the Mass Media, Event Planning, Principles of Marketing, Lighting Design, and Television Production.”
2. Skills learned and Certifications
There are a ton of applicable skills that you are able to learn outside of school courses or work experience. Your resume is the perfect place to explain and list these. These outside skills show that you are excellent at applying what you learn in day to day life to a professional setting.
Quick learner, self-starter, team player, strong leader, public speaking skills, being able to work under pressure, good listener, great at prioritizing, and juggling many tasks at once.
Looking for certifications relevant to your job field? Here is a list of some great certifications that you can complete online, depending on your career field: Here’s the Reddit thread with tons of free (or inexpensive) certifications to help boost your resume.
3. Volunteer experience
Employers love to see volunteer experience on resumes. I’m not saying you have to go out every Saturday to feed the homeless (but if you can then you should, that’s great!) but even the smallest volunteering shows that you care.
Looking for a volunteer opportunity near you? This site lists a ton, by location!
Were you a Girl Scout when you were younger? Put that! (I was a Girl Scout all the way through – for 13 years, fellow Girl Scouts leave a comment below!)
Any beach cleanups you’ve attended, helping out at a local children’s camp, watching children at church, childcare, campus club volunteer days, reading books to kids at libraries, and helping your BFF get their Eagle Scout Award – it all counts.
RELATED: Listen to this episode of my podcast, The Quarter Life Crisis Club, on job applications:
Listing references on your resume can be a smart way to fill in space and show your trustworthiness up front.
References can be important mentors in your life such as professors, volunteering supervisors, internship managers, organization leaders, or religious group leaders.
5. Passion projects
Are you a blogger? Boom – that is an amazing resume booster. (P.S. Here are the amazing things that have happened to me since I started a blog in college!)
Did you start a club or organization on your campus? Fantastic.
Have you written a novel or taught yourself graphic design? You go!
Do you enter your photos or artwork into art galleries? Shows great creativity.
Passion projects – aka something that you started up yourself, are a wonderful way to show your dedication, passion, determination, and persistence to hiring managers.
How to list it on your resume:
Depending on the position and the project you can list it different ways on your resume. For example, I (as do many other bloggers) list my blog as a job under my work experience. Starting up and running Dani Dearest has led to some amazing opportunities, given me some fantastic and unique skills, and opened many doors that I wouldn’t have been able to open through a normal “work experience.”
Being involved in clubs on or off your college campus are a great way to boost your resume. Not only are they great for networking, but they also can open the doors to learning new skills, and if you are involved in one club for a long time they show hiring managers that you are dedicated and able to manage your time well.
Looking for a great club to start on your campus? Here’s what starting a Her Campus chapter at my university has done for me.
7. Leadership positions
Holding a leadership position may be one of the best things you can do to boost your resume.
Being a college student you have an incredible amount of opportunities to step up into leadership positions. In clubs and organizations, societies, Greek Life, on campus jobs, internships, leading school tours, becoming an RA, anything.
Holding a leadership position while still in college shows real determination, passion, hard work, time management skills, communication skills, and many more qualities mandatory for amazing jobs.
How to get involved in a leadership position:
- Take any clubs or societies that you are involved in and see when officer elections are. Apply for a position and run for it, even if it is something like Treasurer – there is no position too small. Bonus points if the club is related to your future career field!
- Start your own club/organization on campus (like your own Her Campus Chapter!)
- Apply to become an RA or dorm leader.
- Take admitted students on campus tours.
- Help out at school Orientation and become a peer mentor.
8. Awards and achievements
Your resume is your chance to brag! You’ve worked hard for those awards, share them!
This is also the place to list non-tangible awards/achievements such as your GPA, honors, or if you made it on the Dean’s List.
9. Study abroad experience
Studying abroad is an amazing and life changing opportunity, which is also perfect as a college resume booster. While studying abroad, you learn many things: how to live on your own, travelling solo, new languages, currency exchanges, public transportation, navigation, volunteering, history, and so much more.
Many companies really value study abroad experience, don’t let that slip through your fingers!
Looking to study abroad soon? Here’s how to pick a study abroad program that works for you.
Have you taken classes in (or are you fluent in) another language? List it on your resume! Being bilingual is very impressive to employers, as well as a great asset when the company is serving people who speak different languages.
11. LinkedIn account info
I use my LinkedIn account to expand upon my resume, since my resume is so long its difficult to cut down to one printable page. A LinkedIn account is a wonderful spot to go into further detail about each experience without having to worry about word or page count.
How to list it on your resume:
Underneath or next to your contact info, list your LinkedIn profile link. Make sure to accept any networking requests on the site that may come from the company you are applying to!
12. Job shadows
Shadowing a professional in your desired career field is a priceless way to network and grow. By placing your job shadow opportunities on your resume, you are sharing that you aren’t afraid to speak up, network, step out of your comfort zone, and learn. This also definitely speaks to the fact that you are passionate about that career field and want to grow within it – which is important to employers.
13. Portfolio links
Do you have an online portfolio?
No matter if you are a graphic designer, a journalist, social media manager, lighting designer, computer coder, actor… or nearly anything really, a portfolio website is a priceless asset. Being able to display your work without rules or limits on creativity looks great to employers.
Make sure you link to your portfolio website on your resume and cover letter!
Interested in starting up a portfolio website? It’s very similar to starting a blog – learn more here.
Being a part of something bigger, such as a society or a national organization, looks great to employers. Not only is it a good way to network with potential people inside the company that were a part of one of those societies, it also shows your dedication, time management, and
15. Computer knowledge
All that time you spend on Twitter and Facebook in class? That’s a skill.
Writing an essay in Microsoft Word or making a presentation in PowerPoint? That’s a skill!
Have you taught yourself coding or have you made a blog with WordPress? That’s a skill!
In today’s day and age basic computer skills (Microsoft office, for example) are nearly mandatory, but extra computer skills (social media, coding, blogging, etc.) are what really put you above and beyond.
Boosting your resume without “real” work experience is totally possible when you get a little creative and pursue your passions. What is your biggest trick to improving your resume?