“I don’t have experience, so I don’t have a resume,” may be a common excuse for high school and college students looking for internship or career experience. Considering most Niche users are 19 or younger at the start of college, it’s understandable why students don’t have a lot of relevant background training, being that they’ve only recently been eligible to work in the United States.
On the other hand, there are ways students can scrounge up skills and references to apply to their resumes. They just need to pick and choose different life experiences and tools and know how to implement them into their list of qualifications.
Option One: Make a List
Just as one might brainstorm for a personal essay, write down a list of memorable experiences and what you learned from them. For example, maybe you once participated in Relay for Life, an event that raises money for the American Cancer Society. Or perhaps you play left field for the baseball or softball team. Philanthropy and team sport activities look good on resumes in that they show people volunteering for a good cause or gaining the ability to work with other people.
Other experiences that could be applied to a resume include participation in student clubs and committees, volunteering, and even family responsibilities.
Option Two: Start a Blog or Passion Project
For those that are unhappy with their limited resume experience, there are ways to go out and get experience, even from the comfort of a laptop.
A good example is Maya Van Wagenen. After she was handed the 1951 book “Betty Cornell’s Teenage Popularity Guide” as a gift, her parents challenged her to follow the book’s dated advice and document the experience. The result was her own book—”Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek“—which was published by Dutton Children Books in 2013 and optioned by Dreamworks in 2014—all before she even graduated high school. While this is an atypical experience, this just shows that you never know what might happen with a personal passion project. Not only can it build a resume, but in Wagenen’s case, it can also start a career.
Another example is Lawrence Dai, who as a Northwestern University student, started a blog where he decided to watch the 2009 film “Julie and Julia” every day for a year and document the experience. Random? Yes. But the fact that Dai completed it shows stick-to-itiveness, and it’s also a fairly intriguing concept (especially if you like the film). Also, when it comes to getting your foot in the door of a company, a project like this is definitely a memorable resume booster.
Option Three: Start Making Connections Now
In 2013, LinkedIn rolled out its plan to appeal to high school students, with the launch of university pages and the lowering of the age threshold to 13. While it’s certainly not vital to hit junior high with the intention of networking with upperclassman bigwigs, alumni, and assorted professionals, LinkedIn’s move goes to show that it may be never too early to start thinking about the future, even if you’re entering your first year of teenhood.
Through LinkedIn and corresponding websites, teenagers can begin their networking process early, connecting with counselors at schools they’re interested in and notable figures whose jobs intrigue them. This is also a good way to gain references for a resume. These people may be able to help students find jobs related to their interests, and they may also serve as role models for young people in how to be professional in the age of the selfie and damaging Facebook statuses. Like bad first impressions, the Internet leaves a permanent imprint, and it’s good to learn that as early as possible.
LinkedIn is also a good way for students to ask for recommendations from people, as the endorsements show up on personal profiles.
The Bottom Line
When you’re young, you’re not expected to have the career experience of a CEO. However, young people do have options for beefing up their qualifications and connections; they just don’t always realize how to apply it to their resumes.