Earning a postsecondary degree can help you advance your goals or even enter an entirely new field of work, but how can you really take advantage of all that hard work you’re doing in class? Showcasing your class projects as experience can help you prove that you have not just the knowledge, but the practical skills you need to succeed.
While classes at University of Arkansas Grantham are designed for online learning, it doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy a hands-on learning experience. Students are able to work at the pace that is best for them while still participating in projects and completing assignments that reflect real-world scenarios. UA Grantham's online degree programs are comprised of relevant coursework that will help you hit the ground running after graduation.
Meanwhile, UA Grantham encourages both current students and alumni to utilize the Career Services team to build and advance their goals. With a variety of services available, from job search strategy and mock interviews to resume help and networking tips, we can support development in every stage of your education.
As you prepare to apply for jobs, you’ll need to tailor your resume and LinkedIn profile accordingly. You’ll want to include all of the new skills you’ve developed throughout your degree program. Remember that your experiences and accomplishments don’t only come from paid employers. You can include valuable experience gained from volunteering, earning certifications or taking short-term consultant work—all of which look great in the eyes of a prospective employer.
Joining professional organizations in your field is also a great way to both network and learn more about the industry (many of these organizations even have free or heavily discounted rates for those still in school). You can also engage with others in the industry, research your target companies and find ways to connect with decision-makers at those organizations.
Don’t only focus on making industry-relevant connections, though. Even experience that doesn’t have an obvious link to your dream job can often be presented in a way that demonstrates your transferable skills. For example, maybe the way you organized a volunteer event can be equated to your project management skill set, or a technology certification can prove your ability to adapt to new tools. This goes for your educational experience, too. A final project, thesis or other classroom activity can be highlighted to establish your knowledge, expertise or ambition.
Whether you’re working on your LinkedIn profile, writing your resume or talking about your experience during an interview, how can you share your educational journey in a way that relates to the job you want? The majority of your relevant experience will likely come from your education at first, and as you gain more professional experience you can shift the emphasis from your education to previous jobs.
When talking about your coursework as experience, be sure to focus on projects or assignments in which you solved real-life problems or got some hands-on technical experience. Consider including these not just on your resume, but also in your cover letter, portfolio, or personal website. Remember, it’s okay to be specific. When applicable, try to reference exact course names, project assignments or objectives, the grades you received, specific software programs or tools you used, as well as industry-relevant keywords.
All of this can be even more meaningful to prospective employers if you’ve done your research ahead of time. Being able to clearly show an understanding of the needs of the organization—as well as how your experience and education can meet those needs—will help you tremendously. This is also a great opportunity to demonstrate the value you will bring to their team.
Setting up a mock interview can be particularly useful in helping you practice connecting the dots of your past experiences to a future role. Don’t inflate, exaggerate or lie about your experience, but also keep in mind that this is the time to boast about all you’ve accomplished as a student and beyond!
The Career Services team is eager to connect with students and alumni to help them reach their career goals. Reach out today!