Question: How can I write a resume if I feel like I don’t have any experience?
Answer: Traditional resume sections are more flexible than you might think! Class projects, volunteer work, and involvement in organizations are all worthy of being prominently featured on your resume. Below are five examples of non-internship experiences that you can either add into the Experience section of your resume or expand upon in other sections.
- CLASS PROJECTS: If you’ve had a class project that aligns with an internship or job you’d like, add it into your Experience section. Be sure to give the project a name that an employer will understand.
Prison Poetry Project, Ionia County Prison Sept. 2019 – Dec. 2019
Community Engagement Course: MSU Res. College in the Arts and Humanities
- Collaborated with incarcerated adults to reflect on personal experiences to create written and spoken poems, building trust and actively listening and engaging with participants
- Created visually engaging 36-page book of poems with Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator
- PAID WORK UNRELATED TO DESIRED INTERNSHIP/JOB FIELD: Most employers highly value customer service roles! It’s important to highlight the broad skills you develop doing this work. For example, if you worked in food service and are not seeking a food industry internship, don’t write about washing dishes— instead, focus on the transferable skills that connect to the new opportunities you are targeting.
Gallery Dining Hall, Michigan State University Sept. 2019 – May 2020
Food Service Employee
- Provided friendly service to customers to ensure a quality experience, quickly addressing and correcting issues that arose
- Adapted role by filling in where needed to support team and increase efficiency
- Organized work area by following standard cleaning procedures, taking initiative to look ahead to complete required tasks ahead of schedule
- STUDY ABROAD/AWAY: Study abroad or away programs can fit anywhere on your resume— your Education section, Experience section, Activities section, etc. The length and depth of activities during your time abroad, and how much of your experience you would like to highlight, will dictate where it fits best on your resume.
Comparative Cultures in Ecuador; Quito, Ecuador May 2020 – Aug. 2020
Study Abroad Participant
- Participated in an 8-credit intensive Spanish language and cultural immersion experience, utilizing strong communication and interpersonal skills to operate in a new environment
- Co-led an after-school program of 21 children at a local orphanage, designing and executing engaging co-curricular lessons that aligned with academic curriculum
- Strengthened cross-cultural understanding by building relationships with on-site instructors and local residents, focusing on active listening skills
- VOLUNTEER/COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT: If you can fill several bullet points highlighting the volunteer work you did, the skills required to do it, and the results of your work, you can prominently feature volunteer roles in either your Experience category or another category (Leadership, Community Engagement, etc.).
Refugee Development Center; Lansing, MI Aug. 2020 – Dec. 2020
Volunteer High School Mentor/Tutor
- Overcame cultural and language barriers with 30+ students by remaining open and encouraging and by utilizing active listening skills
- Adapted lessons and activities to students’ learning styles and varying levels of proficiency
- Coached students weekly in reading, writing, pronunciation, and other homework
- STUDENT ORGANIZATIONS: Often, you’ll see student group involvement experiences in an Activities or Leadership section on your resume. But, not all resumes have those categories (you need Education and Experience sections, but after that, resume categories can be quite flexible). If you played an important role or were highly involved in a student organization, you can shift this into your Experience section, or leave it in your Activities or Leadership section, adding additional bullet points to describe your role.
North Street High Student Government, City, MI Sept. 2019 – May 2020
Senior Class Vice President
- Served as official liaison between Student government and NSH administration
- Facilitated monthly senior class meetings with 25 student government members
- Spearheaded “Fall Carnival” fundraiser that raised over $2,900 for senior class trip
- Oversaw 10 colleagues on Homecoming and Prom planning committees