My tips for gaining professional experience as a university student

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The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

As a college student, one of your biggest priorities is to gain experience that you can use for a career after graduation. When looking at job boards, even entry-level jobs require some experience, so it’s important to find ways to build that experience. If you want to get into digital marketing like me, for example, fields similar to this can be competitive, which makes the experience even more important. Fortunately, I was able to find opportunities that allow me to gain experience in my field while having time for school. Here are a few ways I would recommend to gain experience!

To do an internship

Internships are one of the easiest and best ways to gain work experience while in college. Internships can 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 do 2 internships in 4 years (one out of 3rd year and one in 4e year). These internships can be paid or unpaid, but regardless, they can be used as college credit. Depending on your program, the University can either assign you to a company or (in the case of my program) you must find your own placement. Regardless of how your internship goes, both allow you to gain career experience in your field and also allow you to earn course credit. Some programs even offer on-the-job courses, which resemble internships, like the UWindsor Publishing Practicum (article link). The other option is to participate in an internship that is not associated with the school. These can be found on Job Boards and can also be paid or unpaid. Internships are a great way to gain work experience while studying, as the main demographic for intern jobs is current students. To find these internships, I recommend checking out Indeed, LinkedIn, or contacting your department to see if they know of any available positions.

Work with local businesses

Working with local businesses has been the best way for me to enrich my experience. Windsor-Essex is home to many local businesses that are always looking for help. I’ve worked with several local businesses to help grow their social media, create video content, shoot product photos, and run email campaigns, among other things. I can also get paid for my work, and companies are often willing to do that because through invoicing, local businesses can write off these jobs! There are also many different businesses in Windsor-Essex, so you might find one you are passionate about! To contact companies, I often send cold emails, DMs or calls to see if they are looking for help! Unlike traditional businesses, local businesses like collaboration, so they are always ready to answer you! Also, if you do a good job for these companies, they will sometimes direct you to other places!

Start secondary agitation

Another way to gain experience is to do a parallel stampede. Side hustles often involve students starting a business that allows them to earn money on top of school. Some I see often are craft businesses, media services, and even being an influencer! Creating a side hustle for yourself allows you to gain experience in something you’re passionate about while remaining independent. I consider the work I do with local businesses as a side hustle because I really enjoy this job and it allows me to learn outside of school.

Join a club

Not only are clubs fun to do, but they’re also a way to gain experience. Clubs often have roles in finance, marketing, event planning and other leadership categories that attract employers. I am personally involved with Her Campus as Co-Chair and Magazine Editor (former Director of Social Media) and Vice President of Social Media at the Society for the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. Additionally, including clubs on your resume can let employers know more about your personality. For example, being on her campus can show that you are passionate about empowering women; being in a club in your department (Science Society, Communication Student Association. etc.) can also show how passionate you are about the program you are in.

Volunteer

Volunteering is a great way to give back to your community and gain experience. There are many not-for-profits and charities in Windsor-Essex that are always looking for help with daily chores, events, etc. Volunteering also shows employers what causes are important to you, and sometimes volunteering at a charity or nonprofit can open up subsidized employment down the road. For example, I volunteer at a non-profit organization called Film Camp for Kids & Youth, but in the summer when they get job grants, they can hire me and pay me for my work!

Take certification programs

There are many websites that allow people to get certified in skills relevant to their careers. Programs can average around 2 hours of lectures with a few quizzes, and at the end you can earn a certification to add to your CV. I’ve taken certification programs for email, content, and social media marketing, but there are so many more, and they’re FREE! LinkedIn Learning, Hootsuite, and Hubspot are great places to get certifications! There are also various sites where you can develop skills without certifications, such as Skillshare!

There are so many other things students can do to gain experience beyond this list, but from here you can see that even if you are a student, there are many ways to gain experience while at school!

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