Differentiating yourself from your peers can be a difficult task to do. Those applying for the same positions probably have taken similar classes and may have similar GPAs, so how can you stand out amongst the crowd? The best way to give yourself a leg up on your competition is to gain professional experience. Opportunities for professional experiences are abundant, but you have to plan ahead and actually utilize these opportunities for them to be beneficial. Consider partaking in some of the ideas below to strengthen your resume.

Join Clubs and Organizations

Something that you can implement from the beginning of your college career is to join clubs and organizations. Not only are they a great way to make friends, but they are also great ways to network. Remember, the college students of today are the professionals of tomorrow. You never know when these connections could come in handy. There are numerous organizations on campus and a majority of them are geared towards professional development. Join several as soon as you begin college and hopefully find a few you’ll want to stick with.

Find an Internship or Two

The most widely spoken about place to gain the skills necessary to find professional work is through internships. By spending time working for an actual company, you are able to experience the job, make networking connections, and learn new skills. One thing to note is: internships are a lot like jobs and go to the strongest candidate, so use the other strategies to help you get an internship.

Shadow Professionals in Your Field

Before you can obtain a job, you need to decide what kind of position you want to apply for, especially for majors where there are several potential pathways. There is no use in applying for roles that you have no interest in working in. A good way to test the waters is to reach out to people that are currently working in an area that you are interested in. This inside information is invaluable and at the same time, you can build great connections.

Take Every Opportunity

Throughout your college career, there will be many opportunities to gain useful experience. Professors will need research assistants, study abroad programs will have internships, and many other experiences will come your way. Don’t shy away from these. Take every opportunity that interests you because you may never have a chance to gain these experiences again. 

Don’t Stress

If you haven’t already been doing these things, don’t stress! It is never too late to start. Even if it is your last semester, try to add something to your resume that will help differentiate you. By going the extra mile now, you’ll be ahead later.