During graduation season, it’s easy to picture yourself in cap and gown, walking across the stage to finally receive your diploma. You will have spent years working hard in class, and you will finally be able to add a degree to your resume.
The only problem is that once you start job hunting, you may find that the most appealing positions require one to five years’ experience. Don’t worry: While you are still a student, you have many opportunities to gain professional experience and avoid this dilemma. And the sooner you start, the better.
Get involved with a student organization
There are all several industry-focused student organizations available at UMUC. For starters, there are the Accounting Club, Criminal Justice and Intelligence Club, Communication Studies Club and Psychology Club. Organizations often offer opportunities not always found in the classroom, such as workshops, guest speakers or the chance to connect with a professional who can act as a mentor.
Another option is to become involved in a student chapter of a national professional organization. Organizations such as the Public Relations Society of America are recognized across the industry and have sister organizations for students. The Public Relations Student Society of America offers students the chance to apply for scholarships and internships, gain professional public relations experience and build valuable relationships.
Get an Internship
The benefits of interning are not to be underestimated. If you are able to intern, maximize your experience to learn as much as you can about the field or industry. Having multiple internships over the course of your studies can expand your network and build skills. Though many interning positions are unpaid or offer low wages, if you work hard enough to be noticed, you’ll walk away with a solid recommendation and possibly the offer of a full-time position.
Volunteering can offer the same benefits of an internship and possibly a greater hands-on experience. If you are able to demonstrate your experience in a corporate internship and the know-how from a volunteering position, you will stand out from other job applicants.
Attend Professional Events and Workshops
Follow companies and industry professionals on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. They will often post upcoming professional events, workshops and webinars. UMUC often offers the same resources. These events are a great chance to network with professionals and learn more about the industry from their perspective.
Get an Administrative Job in Your Field
Even with a degree and experience, it’s not always easy to get the job you want, so consider applying for administrative positions at a company in which you’re interested. It might not be the position you pictured landing right off the bat, but administrative positions offer more than you might expect. They can help your learn how the company works, build relationships demonstrate what a reliable and valuable employee you are, helping you to move into your ideal job.
As rewarding as it is to graduate with your degree in hand, having experience is just as important. Though it may not be easy to add another commitment to your already busy schedule, think of these experiences as an investment in your career. You’ll be thankful when you have the stellar resume that makes you stand out and the recommendations to confirm your abilities.