How You Can Build Experience During College

Last week I talked about how you need to “walk the talk whatever you do”. What that means is that you should not only talk about your interests, passions, and activities, but have a way to show that you are, in fact, interested in a certain field or industry and already doing something to prove it.

“Walking the talk” is difficult

As a recent grad myself, I know how easy it is to get into the vicious circle of “I need experience to get experience,” especially because many of the positions I was applying for were populated by applicants two or three years out of university. The recession has been tough on everyone and I found myself competing for positions that seemed to require no previous experience (hence called Entry-Level Positions) with applicants who often had three years of full time employment on their belt. The examples they were using in the competence interviews were obviously more similar to what the positions we were applying for would look like, no matter how awesome my extracurricular involvement looked on paper.

Getting the experience

So I found myself turning to attempts to get more and more real-world experience on my resume. I contacted a charity I had cooperated with previously and offered to set up a social media marketing plan for them.  I thought about doing an ebook for the university. I planned different projects.

I did this during the university terms, mainly because I couldn’t afford to simply take an unpaid internship in the holidays which would get me some of this extra experience. Yet I still did the work for free, combining school work with extra projects, something fairly easy to do for people with at least a drop of time management skills.

The idea of free work

This turned the idea of “free work” on its head for me. Suddenly, it wasn’t something that was out of reach because I needed to earn money during the holidays. I could do this during semester, just offering my knowledge and skills and applying them to a real-world project. The only difficult part of this (and the part that most students get stuck on) is that these projects don’t just come to you. Most of the time you will have to go out there and find them, even if you have to invent them. Is there a company you’d like to work for? Find something they need help with, do the work, suggest it or send it in immediately, then repeat. Think of the cool projects you could be working on right now!

To finish off, I’d just like to leave you with an incredible ebook written by Charlie Hoehn that helped me piece together how this could all work. We all can prove that we’re capable even fresh out of college and that we truly do “walk the talk”. Here is Charlie’s take on it:

Recession-Proof Graduate

Have you done a project like this in the past? Do you have any advice for your fellow students? Share them in the comments.


Anna is a Social Media Marketing Assistant at Pepsmedia, based in Cambridge, UK. Having graduated from the University of Cambridge in 2010 with a degree in Social and Political Sciences, she joined the small team straight out of university and is now helping businesses engage with customers online and build communities. She is passionate about the use of social media both in business and for individuals.  To find out more, read her Life With Social Media blog, or connect with her on Twitter @annamanasova and LinkedIn.

Related posts:

  1. No Experience? Not Necessarily…
  2. College Graduation: A Credential or a Meaningful Experience?
  3. Build Relationships to Build a Career

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