My Tips for Gaining Career Experience as a University Student – Her Campus

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
As a university student, one of the biggest priorities you have is building experience that you can use to get a meaningful career after you graduate. When looking at job boards, even entry level jobs require a certain amount of experience, so it is important to find ways to build that experience. If you  want to go into Digital Marketing like me, for example, similar fields to this can be competitive, which makes experience even more important.  Luckily, I have been able to find opportunities for myself that allow me to build experience in my field while still having time for school. Here are some ways I would recommend building experience!
Internships are one of the easiest and best ways to build job experience while in university.  Internships can either be done as part of your University Courses, or you can do them on your own time. In my program at the University of Windsor, I can take 2 internships in my 4 years (one in 3rd year and one in 4th year). These internships can be paid or unpaid, but regardless, they are able to be used as a University Credit. Depending on your program, the University can either assign you to a company, or (in the case of my program) you are required to find your own placement. Regardless of how your internship works, both allow you to build career experience in your field and allow you to get a course credit as well. Some programs even offer work-based classes, which are like internships, such as the UWindsor Publishing Practicum (link article). The other option is participating in an internship that isn’t associated with school. These ones can be found on Job Boards and can also be paid or unpaid. Internships are a great way to build work-based experience while in school, as the primary demographic for intern jobs is  current students. To find these internships, I would recommend checking out Indeed, LinkedIn, or contacting your department to see if they know of any available postings.
Working with local businesses has been the biggest way for me to boost my experience. Windsor-Essex is home to a lot of local businesses who are always looking for help. I have worked with several local businesses to help build their social media, create video content, take product photos, and launch email campaigns, among other things. I am also able to be paid for my work, and businesses are often willing to do so because thanks to invoicing, local businesses can write off those jobs! There are also lots of different businesses in Windsor-Essex, so you will be able to find one that you are passionate about! To contact businesses, I often cold email, DM, or call to see if they are looking for help! Unlike traditional businesses, local businesses love collaboration, so they are always willing to message you back! As well, if you do good work for those businesses, sometimes they will refer you to other places!
Another way that you can build experience is by doing a side hustle. Side hustles often entail students creating a business that allows them to make money on the side from school. Some that I often see are craft businesses, media services, and even being an influencer! Creating a side hustle for yourself allows you to build experience in something you are passionate about while still being independent. I consider the work I do with local businesses a side hustle as I really enjoy that work and it allows me to learn outside of school.
Not only are clubs fun to do, but they are also a way to build experience. Clubs often have roles in finance, marketing, event planning, and other leadership categories that are attractive to employers. I am personally involved in Her Campus as the Co-President and a Magazine writer (previous social media director) and a VP of social media in the Society of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. As well, including clubs on your resumes can allow employers to learn about your personality. For example, being on Her Campus can show that you are passionate about female empowerment; being in a club for your department (Science Society, Communication Student Association. Etc.) can also show how passionate you are about the program you are in.
Volunteering is a great way to give back to your community and build experience. There are many non-profits and charities in Windsor-Essex that are always looking for help with daily tasks, helping with events, etc. Volunteering also shows employers what causes are important to you, and sometimes volunteering at a charity or non-profit can open a grant-based job down the road. For example, I volunteer at a non-profit called Film Camp for Kids & Youth, but in the summer when they receive job grants, they can hire me and pay me for my work!
There are a lot of websites out there that allow people to be able to get certified in skills relevant to their career. The programs can be on average about 2 hours of lectures with a few quizzes, and at the end you can get a certification to add to your resume. I have done certification programs for Email, Content, and Social Media Marketing, but there are so many other ones, and they are FREE! Some great places to get certifications include LinkedIn Learning, Hootsuite, and Hubspot! There are also different sites where you can build skills without certifications, such as Skillshare!
There are so many other things students can do to gain experience beyond this list, but from this you can see that even though you are a student, there are plenty of ways that you can build experience while being in school!
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