“I have nothing.”
Those were the words my sister uttered when I asked her about what she was planning on including in her resume.
Many people who decide not to work while pursuing a degree may feel the same way she did–void of any way to demonstrate the value they can add to a potential employer. But a resume doesn’t have to include only experience you have gained while being compensated.
Take the example of my sister. She thought she would have a very sparse resume given that she didn’t have any jobs or internships while in school. But I knew that her experience in her sorority would be critical to building a demonstrated background in leadership.
The great thing about college life is its diversity. I remember when I attended college (back when you actually sent letters to your friends, not emails, and the word “text” was only a noun, not a verb), my campus was plastered with banners about political clubs, community focused organizations, and religious activities that students could get involved in. They were calling for commitments of volunteerism and leadership. No matter what kind of student, your background or your interests, you could find a group to be involved with.
Sororities and fraternities are great ways to gain leadership experience. Over her four years at college, my sister led canned food drives, organized volunteers, managed money, and created presentations to increase club membership. On Sept. 11, 2001, she was part of a team that collected donations for victims and their families, an effort that was spotlighted in the school’s newspaper. As bullet points in her resume, each of those activities showed leadership, initiative, and an ability to manage.
No money? No problem.
Just because you aren’t getting paid for them doesn’t mean activities like these should be ignored. If you have led a team of volunteers, you can demonstrate how you organized a team, how you communicated a message and implemented a plan to ensure your goals are achieved. Keep in mind when writing a resume that a recruiter will be considering many other students or graduates with the same educational background you bring to the table. You need to clearly define what sets you apart from the people who sat around you in class. A resume is not the time to be shy. (Search resume tips on StudentBranding.)
College can be fun. It will be a learning experience. Most important, it undoubtedly will be a springboard to your future. Use your time wisely because that cap and gown comes quicker than you realize.
Michele is a Senior Recruiter for Sodexo, a world leader in quality of daily life solutions that contribute to the progress of individuals and the performance of organizations. As a former assistant director at the University of Maryland University College’s Career and Cooperative Education Center, she’s no stranger to students trying to plan their careers. During that time, she worked with non-traditional college students to gain school credit for on the job work experience. Michele also taught seminars on job searching, resume writing and interview techniques, and partnered with local employers to help students gain employment. At Sodexo, she has continued her interest in shaping student careers by serving as a mentor to an intern in the company’s Future Leaders Program. Michele began her recruitment career in 1999, joining Sodexo in 2008 where she recruits for a range of food, facilities and environmental services positions. Michele holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland College Park (go Terps), is a charter member of a Baltimore area Toastmasters chapter, and a Certified Internet Recruiter (CIR) and Certified Diversity Recruiter (CDR). When not giggling with her two girls, Michele enjoys writing … and watching the Yankees win, much to the dismay of her husband. Join her on LinkedIn or just Network with Us at Sodexo.