How to Build Your Resume Without Doing Unpaid Internships

By Alicia Geigel on July 9, 2021

In the college world, besides schoolwork, internships mean everything. Internships help to give you relevant work experience in your respective field, establish connections with people in your field, grow your ever-expanding network of work connections and relationships, and of course, build your resume. Having a great resume is the key to landing the job position of your dreams, outside of reliable work references. Upon reviewing your job application, employers will scan your resume for relevant work experience, which includes internships, to determine whether or not you’re a good fit for the position.

While internships are incredibly important to utilize while in college, nearly half of them remain unpaid. The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) reported in 2017 that 43% of students work unpaid internships. While that number has declined since 2012 from 50%, that is still a large percentage of students getting zero compensation for valuable work done in internships.

Though this number continues to decline and interest in unpaid internships lower, students still want to be taken seriously in the job sector, which poses the question, “how is it possible to build your resume without unpaid internships?”

Are you a college student looking to build your resume while not being in an unpaid internship? Here are 5 ways to do so and guarantee you’ll land your dream job!

intern, job, internship, note, pen, words

Image via Pexels

1. Start Building a Network: Perhaps the most meaningful element to come out of internships, besides work experience, is your network. Networking helps give you meaningful connections that can introduce you to important figures/people in your field, lead you to a job you otherwise wouldn’t know of, and give you plenty of resources to boost your resume. In addition, building a network can give you insight into what employers are seeking from potential applicants within your career field of interest. Additionally, this can give you extra knowledge on how to best prepare for upcoming job applications.

2. Try a Part-Time Job in Your Desired Field: When looking for relevant work experience to build your resume, you may first think of internships or a job that is very specific to the field you are studying in, which is a great step, but an even better first step is to go for a part-time job and leave some of the specifics out. What do I mean by this? Try to incorporate more generalized skill sets and experience into your job search to help build your resume. If you are a political science major, consider something in law or communications to help strengthen those skills you know you’ll need. Perhaps you’re a business major, look into a job that deals with numbers, personal interactions, or sales to give you an edge of experience in your field. Essentially, search for jobs that can only bolster your relevant experience for the true job of your dreams or your greater career path. For extra points, try looking for job opportunities on campus!

3. Don’t Overlook Freelance Opportunities: In terms of work, a lot of people either don’t know much about freelance opportunities or they just have a wrong impression of freelancing. When internship hunting is difficult, freelancing is a great way to get experience and build your resume at the same time! With freelance job opportunities, you can expect to take on individual projects or tasks, and getting compensated for your work. Tiffany Waddell Tate of the Muse notes, “It can help you build a portfolio of work examples, which may be more like what you’d need to produce in a job than school projects. Not only is this the perfect opportunity to flex your skills in addition to doing the actual work, but it’s also paid and usually doesn’t rely on a set time commitment.”

4. Consider Remote Internships: Due to the nature of the pandemic, many students have taken on remote job and internship positions. While in your internship search, consider seeking out paid or unpaid internship opportunities. While unpaid internships may not be your ultimate goal, a remote unpaid internship can have its perks. For one, you don’t have to worry about the cost of transportation to and from your job site, and you also can have more free time at home to focus on schoolwork, tackle a part-time job, or enjoy some free time.

5. Look Into Grants and Scholarships: Sometimes a perfect opportunity exists, but certain things like money come in the way and keep you from seizing your dreams. In the case that you want to take on an unpaid internship but cannot afford to or don’t want to, consider looking into grants and scholarships from your school! Sofie Dolan of Recruiting from Scratch writes, “Some colleges and universities offer internship funding to select eligible students who satisfy certain requirements.” If this sounds like something you’re willing to look into, reach out to the dean of your college and the financial aid office to inquire about what you can be eligible for!

resume, internship, person, job, hands, agree, inteview

Image via Pexels

Trying to build your resume without taking on unpaid internships may seem nearly impossible, but there are so many different ways to work around this, whether it’s through researching grants or doing some freelance projects. Regardless of how you go about it, you are guaranteed to gain relevant experience and build your resume with these alternate internship paths!

Follow Uloop

Apply to Write for Uloop News

Join the Uloop News Team

Discuss This Article

Back to Top

Log In

Contact Us

Upload An Image

Please select an image to upload
Note: must be in .png, .gif or .jpg format
Provide URL where image can be downloaded
Note: must be in .png, .gif or .jpg format

By clicking this button,
you agree to the terms of use

By clicking "Create Alert" I agree to the Uloop Terms of Use.

Image not available.

Add a Photo

Please select a photo to upload
Note: must be in .png, .gif or .jpg format