While many students across the country have had internships and other work experiences canceled due to the pandemic, that does not mean that their resumes have to suffer because of it. By getting creative and taking advantage of the resources available at the iSchool, you can benefit from unpaid experiences and learning opportunities.
“A lot of students at the iSchool think that you have to have an internship to be successful or to get a job,” said Christopher Perrello, Director of Career Services at the iSchool. “As a student, you’re paying all this money and working so hard in all your courses, so you might as well use that to your advantage when crafting a resume.”
With all the opportunities at the iSchool and in the Syracuse University community, here are a few ways that you can use experiences you already have to write a meaningful resume without a typical paid internship experience.
iSchool Projects and Coursework
Learning at the iSchool is hands-on and project-based, which means that you have a plethora of projects that can be used to demonstrate your experience. For example, if you completed a coding project for an iSchool course, you can list it as work experience on your resume. Then, elaborate on the skills you used during the project such as time management or public speaking from presenting the project. By using this project as a work experience, you show potential employers how you set a goal, used your skills, and then produced a positive outcome.
“Undergraduate students often forget the value of those experiences,” said Perrello. “Those are definitely things you can put on your resume, and our iSchool students often actually use their capstone projects as work experience.”
Volunteer Work and Personal Projects
Many students involved with extracurricular activities or capstone projects work with local community organizations or nonprofits in Syracuse. Listing these types of experiences on a resume shows employers that you know how to work with other professionals and on behalf of a client.
“A lot of iSchool students go into consulting work after graduation, so showing employers that you can work with other clients or help other organizations goes a long way,” said Perrello.
You can also use personal projects or initiatives to show employers your skills. If you list on your resume that you designed a logo and built a website for your friend’s start-up, that shows employers that you are ready to work in consulting because you know how to listen to a client and produce results.
Unpaid Internships or Non-related Work Experience
With limited job and internship opportunities in the market right now, Perrello recommends that students be flexible when looking for work experience. While taking an unpaid internship may not sound appealing, it is still a good experience and you can register it for academic credit at the iSchool as well.
Perrello also recommends that you look outside the iSchool or your current skill set if you are struggling to find an internship or work experience. For example, as an iSchool student, you could take an internship in marketing, which looks good on a resume because it shows employers that you are flexible and willing to expand your knowledge.
“An internship does not box you into one area,” said Perrello. “Especially during these times of the pandemic, students should be willing to take experiences outside of their skills learned at the iSchool to show that you can be flexible.”
It can be difficult to build a strong resume when it feels like there are not many paid opportunities available to students for the time being. You have to be creative, however, and use any experiences to show employers what skills you have by adding unconventional experiences to your resume.
“The worst thing you can do is panic and freeze and then not do anything at all,” said Perrello. “Any experience is a good experience.”