Career Corner: Five tips on gaining experience while in college

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By Cynthia Blahnik, Career Advisor.

Students often become discouraged when thinking about what to put on their resume because they haven’t done anything to gain work experience besides take classes in college. Here are some quick tips to gain that valuable experience while in school:

Work-Study
Whether it’s checking materials in or out of the library, preparing laboratory materials for chemistry experiments or assisting in various offices, work-study is a great opportunity for students to gain on-the-job training. These on campus jobs are also desirable because of the flexibility they offer and the opportunity to network.

To qualify for these positions, students must be enrolled in at least six credit hours and apply for financial aid. For more information on work-study, students are encouraged to visit Delta’s Financial Aid offices in Room D101.

Internships and Co-Ops
Many college students choose to work as interns or co-ops as a way to not only gain work experience, but to earn college credit as well. Internships and co-ops provide opportunities for students to determine if they have an interest in a particular career, create a network of contacts and provide them the opportunity to gain valuable, real-life experience related to their academic or career goals.

Job Shadowing
Job shadowing is exactly what the name suggests: “shadowing” or observing a professional to see exactly what the career entails. The student is able to observe how the employee does the job, the key expectations from the job and the people with whom the job interacts. By taking part in this opportunity, students can attend employee meetings, visit customers, attend conference or training events, and become completely familiar with the job.

This is recommended for not only the student who is undecided about a career path, but also one who is looking to network with a company for a potential job opportunity.

Volunteering
Many students dismiss volunteer opportunities because they aren’t “real work experience.” Even though you may not be getting paid to volunteer, you are still developing valuable skills! Besides that, it’s a great way to show employers your ambition, to fill in the gaps if you’re between jobs and meet people who can help you with your networking.

Whether it’s for a day, a month, a season or indefinitely, giving your time is beneficial to you and those you help. Volunteering is a win-win situation. By helping others, you have the opportunity to boost not only your career but also your own well-being. When you volunteer in a role that’s right for you, everybody comes out ahead.

Part-time Employment
Not only can a part-job help supplement your income, it will provide you the opportunity to gain real work experience that is tailored towards what you want to get out of it. It will also allow you to try a lot of different tasks and hone skills that might help you find your passions. As you work, you understand the intricacies of different jobs and career paths that might make yours a little clearer.

Relevancy is the key; it’s important to have a job in the field you may be interested in. What is the point of working in fast food if your passion is animals? If you want a career in the computer industry, is stocking at a grocery store going to give you the necessary skills? Whether it’s reinforcing your passion for health, or your new dream to go into student affairs, having a part time job can help make your future a little bit clearer.

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