Gaining Professional Experience In College

With the job market as competitive as ever, it’s important to graduate college with at least some level of experience. Even though gaining valuable experience may seem difficult at first, it can actually be quite simple. Opportunities are everywhere, as long as you know where to look. However, if you still feel a little lost, here are some tips:

1. Start your search with the CCO. With access to a career counselor and myCCO, the CCO has a lot to offer you in your job search. Our career counselors can help you develop a plan of action in gaining experience to help you achieve your career goals, while myCCO gives you access to thousands of job and internship opportunities around the country. Visit the CCO during drop in hours from Monday-Friday, 10 am to 4 pm in YOUNG 132 for job search and resume assistance.


2. Use your professors. As a research university, Purdue requires most professors to continue working and researching in their respective fields, which means they will often have leads on internships, co-ops, and other valuable experiences. Attend office hours or offer to do an extra research project with your professor. Networking with them can go a long way no matter what field you plan to go into.

3. Tap into your network of contacts. People want you to succeed, and many are more than willing to help you achieve that success. While you should always be willing to help others out as well, many of the adults in your life are especially excited to help you thrive at this time in your life. Reach out to that guy from your church who owns his own landscape architecture business, or your mom’s best friend from college who works in the marketing department at Coca Cola headquarters. Even if they can’t give you a job, they may know someone who can.

4. Do an internship. Internships can be extremely beneficial to gain experience in college. Whether it is paid or unpaid, internships give you a glimpse into what it will be like in the professional world. Attend a career fair to find potential places to apply to, and visit your counselor to see whether a semester internship versus a summer internship would be more beneficial for you and your professional goals.

5. Get a part-time job. Whether it be a part time job at the local pizza parlor, or a job answering telephones for Purdue Convocations, any work experience is valuable with the right attitude. Almost any job will give you experience working on a team, dealing with customers and effectively managing your time.

6. Volunteer. Volunteering offers many benefits, from gaining valuable experience, to making a difference, to gaining new network contacts. Volunteering will look good on your resume, and it shows that you can be passionate about many things.


7. Join student organizations. There are over 900 student organizations at Purdue. There are specific organizations for almost any major, and plenty of room for professional development within these organizations. Even clubs that may not be specific to your major allow you to explore your other interests and hobbies, and many offer leadership opportunities.

8. Start your own business. If you know what you’re good at and think it could be of benefit to other people, why not? Even if it’s something as simple as starting your own lawn mowing business, it shows great initiative, organization and determination to start your own business and maintain it.

9. Freelance. This is extremely beneficial to those in the design field. Whether you are interested in web design, graphic design or creative writing, there are ample opportunities for you to get your work out there and expand your portfolio. It also showcases your entrepreneurship skills!

12. Capitalize on class projects. You’re in college to learn. Hopefully with your declared major, you obtain enough projects to feel like you’ve mastered one or more important aspects of it. Whether it was in your CSR class where you had a career coach or had to role play, or your engineering class where you designed your own Rube Goldberg machine, you know stuff! If you are lacking on professional experience for your resume, you can always talk about one or two class projects that really influenced you.


13. Blog. If you like to write, start a blog about what you’re learning and what you know and love about your chosen field of study. It showcases your budding expertise and can also help shed some positive light on the internet version of you.

Experience is experience, no matter what kind. Come visit the CCO for guidance on how to market and brand yourself, write an effective resume and showcase your talents and experiences.


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