I’m applying for my first ever internship with a major publishing company, but I have no related work experience yet, and my only previous jobs have been retail. How do I write a resume that stands out?
This is a great question and certainly one that plagues many college students. I hear comments like “Every job or internship I apply for says they want someone with experience, so how can I ever get that first job or internship?”
The key is to expand the definition of what is considered experience. Most students think experience comes only from working at a paid job. The truth is you can get great real-world experience from a variety of areas including extracurricular activities, coursework, and even mundane summer jobs.
When you write about your experience, the key is to focus on those transferable skills. Almost any company out there is looking for college students with leadership, initiative, problem solving and the ability to work with others. They can teach you the details and hard skills for the job; they want to find students with strong raw materials.
In your experience section, don’t limit your experience to retail jobs. Did you ever hold a leadership position in a college club? I don’t care if it was student government, a sorority, or even the comic book club. The fact that you were selected by your peers to lead an organization is significant. What you did as a leader is also key to this experience. Did you increase membership? Did you overhaul the finances? Did you create a publicity plan that generated coverage by a local paper?
These are the types of skills employers are craving. Don’t be afraid to tell them what you accomplished.
The same goes for meaningful course projects. I’m not a big fan of just listing your classes under a section called “Relevant Coursework.” I am a fan of picking one or two cool class projects and highlighting them in your experience section. Again, don’t just list the project, but write about your accomplishments.
By expanding your definition of experience and by really highlighting your specific accomplishments, you’ll be able to set yourself apart and land a great internship!
Brad Karsh is President of JobBound (http://www.jobbound.com), a company dedicated to helping job seekers with resume writing, interviewing, career coaching and landing that dream job. Author of Confessions of a Recruiting Director: The Insider’s Guide to Landing Your First Job (Prentice Hall Press), Brad is considered one of the nation’s leading expert on the job search.