/What Can Set You Apart from the Competition
Taeko Kelly

What Can Set You Apart from the Competition

Internship, volunteer work can add a great deal to a resume, says career coach

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

Life experiences students have now can help their future resume stand out. Taeko Kelly, career coach for business at SUNY Oswego, recommends internships

“It’s different applied learning experiences of what they’re studying out of the classroom,” Kelly said. “A lot of employers like to keep the talent they’ve found and offer them positions after they graduate.”

Her office can also help connect students with occasional internship type of experiences, such as monthly rather than daily, formal internship. Even short-term projects, like assisting a company for a couple of days, can help.

Volunteering on or off campus offers a similar effect. Employers like knowing that students care about others and that they took initiative to give back, whether regularly for short periods of time, like an hour a week tutoring other students or occasionally for longer spurts, like spending spring break helping at a shelter.

Kelly also said that part-time jobs or summer employment can also help promote students’ resume.

“It shows you’re working in that industry,” she said.

But even non-industry experience can showcase determination, responsibility and people skills.

“Employers are impressed anytime they see transferrable skills,” Kelly said.

For example, working in retail can help students learn interpersonal skills.

Keeping a part-time job throughout the collegiate career shows that students are “in it for the long haul,” Kelly said.

In addition to working and interning, experience in clubs and organizations, if they’re associated with the students’ future career, help them network with people who can connect them to possible employers.

Kelly highly recommends students to study abroad, especially for students whose future employment would benefit from knowing more than one language.

“Multilingualism is so important,” Kelly said, “as is showing your employer you have the inner strength to go somewhere you don’t know anyone. That shows resilience and determination.”

Participating in student government can cultivate leadership abilities, as students collaborate with others, take part in decision making and help their organization represent what students want.

“You have to work with people you often disagree with,” Kelly said. “That’s valuable. Sometimes, everyone in the same club has the same values, but in student government, you have all these competing values and wants. Advocacy experience is important.”

If you they are not already proficient in typical office software, Kelly said it’s important to learn MS Word, Excel and Adobe. Skills such as website design, grant writing and videography can also come in handy. Many careers use these daily, and even if they don’t, cross training can help a student stand out as a better candidate.

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