How to Gain Experience


"Experience" can come in many forms. It can help you figure out what you want to do with your future. You can build your resume and develop your skillset. Here are a number of different ways you can gain experience throughout college. 

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Internship

  • Definition: An internship is an opportunity to gain valuable, hands-on, work experience in a potential career field of interest without making a long-term commitment. You can do an internship at any time during your college education, however internships frequently occur after junior year during the summer.  
  • Why do an internship: Through this type of experience you can apply what you’ve learned in classes, gain on-the-job professional level experience, build skills, and test-drive different types of work environments.
  • Start your search in Handshake
  • Internship & Job Search Strategies

Cooperative Education (Co-op)

  • Definition: Like an internship, a co-op (cooperative education) is an opportunity to gain work experience that typically lasts for more than one semester. Students may take a semester off of their courses to do a co-op, and then return for classes the following semester after the co-op experience. Co-ops generally happen at organizations in STEM-based industries. Check out: What’s a Co-op & How Do I Get One?
  • Why do a co-op: Through this type of experience you can apply what you’ve learned in classes, gain on-the-job professional level experience, build skills, and test-drive different types of work environments.
  • Start your search in Handshake
  • Internship & Job Search Strategies

Student Teaching/Practicum/Field Experience

  • Definition: Majors in Education, Social Work, Communication Sciences and Disorders, and related majors will often have these experiences integrated into the requirements for the major. These experiences will offer exposure to potential career fields similar to that of internships and co-ops. 
  • Your department will have the requirements and resources for you to fulfill this experience.

Volunteer

  • Definition: Unpaid opportunity to give back to your community while building skills and learning about a work environment.
  • Why volunteer: Beneficial for those interested in non-profits, education, the medical field, social sciences, and human services.
  • Start your search by looking up volunteer opportunities in the area of your choice or by reaching out to a specific organization.

Research

  • Definition: Research experience is an intentional learning plan that will offer exposure to potential career fields similar to that of internships and co-ops. You can conduct research individually, with peers, or with faculty. 
  • Why do research: Through this type of experience you can apply what you’ve learned in classes, build skills, have the opportunity to publish or present your research, and prepare for graduate-level education.
  • Start your search through UMD’s Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP). You can also talk to your faculty and search for on-campus jobs through UMN Human Resources.

Student Organizations

  • Definition: There are 200+ student organizations at UMD where you can connect with individuals on campus and create a community to build your network.
  • Why join an organization: Student organizations provide opportunities to take on leadership roles, build skills, and potentially learn more about your future career path(s).
  • Start your search with Bulldog Connect

Leadership Role

  • Definition: Position with elevated responsibility and potentially decision-making power. Leadership roles can happen almost anywhere.
  • Why seek out leadership roles: These roles can help you build skills relevant to your future career path (i.e. a finance major may want to seek out a treasurer role for a student organization). 
  • Note: Some leadership opportunities don’t happen in an official capacity and they can still be great resume builders (i.e. you are asked to train someone into a role similar to your own). 
  • How to find a leadership role: The easiest place to start is to seek out leadership responsibilities in spaces where you already are engaged.

Part-time/On-campus/Summer Job

  • Definition: Any type of work experience that is not an internship or co-op. 
  • Why work a part-time/on-campus/summer job: Provide you an opportunity to make money during college, to get your foot in the door with an organization you are interested in, find leadership opportunities, and build skills. These types of experiences provide you with many options for development and responsibility, depending on what you are looking for. 
  • Start your search for these opportunities through UMN Human Resources, applying to the organization directly, word of mouth, etc.

Study Abroad

  • Definition: An opportunity to take courses, intern, and/or volunteer internationally.
  • Why Study Abroad: It provides a way to demonstrate your experience of working with a diverse group of people with differing viewpoints. These transferable skills are highly sought after by employers and will help you adapt to different work environments. 
  • Find Study Abroad opportunities through UMD.

Athletics/Club Sports

  • If you are involved in collegiate-level athletic teams or club sports, you are building transferable skills such as time management, discipline, leadership, and teamwork. These transferable skills are highly sought after by employers and will help you adapt to different work environments. Include these experiences on your resume.