Have you ever had a job where you had to say, "Can I take your order please" 50 times a day?" Or a job where you had to tie the shoelaces and wipe the runny noses of 25 young campers on a daily basis? If so, you're not alone. Most freshmen and sophomores with whom I meet have had similar job experiences, and many of them feel that these jobs aren't significant enough to be put on a resume. They seem to think that every other student's resume is brimming over with high-level internships at major companies. Most often, that is not the case.
"So, who will want to hire me as an intern?" you might be asking, "if all I have on my resume are retail jobs, life guarding and camp counseling." The answer is "a lot of companies." Employers are seeking candidates who have the transferable skills they are seeking, NOT the direct experience, especially in regard to internship hiring. According to a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the most common transferable skills required by employers are communication skills, strong work ethic, teamwork skills, initiative, analytical skills, computer skills, flexibility/adaptability, interpersonal skills, problem-solving skills and technical skills. I'm sure that most of you reading this post have many, if not all of these skills.
Remember too that transferable skills can be developed and honed in any kind of situation, not just in a work-related situation. Have you been involved in community service projects or taken on a leadership role in a school club or organization? Have you worked on a team project where you had to use your analytical skills? It's doesn't matter how or where you have developed your transferable skills, just that you have them.
So, think about which transferable skills you have and which ones you still need to work on. Then try to find an internship/job or extracurricular activity where you can improve those skills. Although internships are invaluable in terms of gaining experience and building your resume, a job can be equally as good. Sometimes students get hung up on the terminology, thinking internships are better than jobs, but a job where you are working on important projects is much better than an internship where all you are doing is fetching coffee and making photocopies.