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6 Experiences You NEED to Mention When Applying for Any Job


As a collegiette applying for your first job or internship, the question, “What qualifies you for this position?” can be the most intimidating one you’ll hear during an interview. After all, when you’re still in school and haven’t exactly had tons of time in the “real world” to feel qualified, how can you demonstrate your skills to potential employers and show what a standout applicant you are? Even if you don’t have tons of experience working or interning already, there are plenty of activities you’re already participating in on campus that you’ve probably never even thought to bring up in an interview or cover letter! From your sorority to playing on the women’s soccer team, we rounded up a list of activities and experiences that you’re not mentioning on your cover letter or during an interview—but totally should be!

1. Acting and theatre

Did you spend the majority of your free time in college on stage? Tom Dezell, author of Networking for the Novice, Nervous, or Naïve Job-Seeker says that acting is a great skill to mention no matter what the job you’re applying for is.  

“An individual who acted in plays would be comfortable making presentations to groups, which can be important in just about any field,” Dezell says. “Plus, most surveys of common human fears show this is quite prominent, so employers value it.”

Especially in a workplace where you’ll be giving frequent presentations or doing lots of speaking, the ability to be comfortable presenting to a large amount of people is extremely valuable. To mention this skill during an interview or cover letter, try connecting it to your ability to be comfortable speaking in public and confidently presenting your ideas. Dezell recommends looking out for an open-ended question in the interview and taking this opportunity to show the way your acting experience translates to the workplace.

“Any open-ended question regarding what interests them or qualifies them for the job provides the opportunity,” Dezell explains.

What to say:

“My experience as a performer in plays and musicals throughout my time as a student has allowed me to gain valuable public speaking skills, and has prepared me to effectively present my ideas within the workplace.”

2. Leadership positions

You probably already know to mention your experience as student body president or the leader of a major organization on campus; but no matter how big or small the organization you’re a part of is, a leadership position is worth mentioning, as it’ll give you a major leg up. Whether you were president of your sorority or the animal rights club, mentioning leadership experience not only shows that you are capable of organizing and managing an organization, but that you are trusted and respected by those who voted you into the position in the first place.

“No matter what the activity, assuming or rising to leadership positions can provide some of the few opportunities students have to demonstrate leadership,” Dezell says.

It’s a great idea to mention current or past leadership positions if an interviewer asks about what qualifies you for a job, since it shows you’ve worked hard and were dedicated enough to an organization to move up and take on that leadership role.

What to say:

“As president of my school’s chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma, I have learned valuable leadership and interpersonal skills, and as a result, I am extremely comfortable leading a team and interacting with others effectively.”

3. Playing a sport

Few activities can teach teamwork and collaboration like team sports do—if you participated in a team sport during college, it’s great to mention it!

“Playing sports obviously often involves teamwork,” Dezell says. “Plus, the winning and losing aspect of sports can build skills in perseverance, which translates well into occupations like sales, account management and customer service.”

In almost any workplace, you’ll have to work with others to reach a common goal, so mentioning the teamwork you learned is always a good idea. Even if your sport isn’t a team sport, it’s still great to point out the way endless hours of practicing to be ready to compete has taught you the skills of dedication, hard work and perseverance.

What to say:

“Playing for the women’s soccer team has taught me how to work effectively with a team of others to work toward a common goal.”

4. School newspaper

Even if you’re not applying to work in a communications-based field, the writing and communication skills you’ve gained from working on the staff of a school publication will make you a standout applicant.

“Working on the school paper not only provides ways to showcase writing and editing skills, but also can document ability to meet deadlines,” Dezell says.

Aja Frost, a California Polytechnic State senior, says she includes her previous journalism experience in cover letters to demonstrate her ability to be creative and think on her feet within time constraints.

“Although I'm not interested in being a journalist, I've done a lot of reporting,” she says. “I use this to show potential employers my excellent written communication skills. For example, I might write in a cover letter, ‘Working for USA TODAY College shaped my abilities to write clearly and concisely on a deadline. These skills would serve me well in a role on your marketing team, where I'd be required to create compelling content within time constraints.’”

Meryl Weinsaft Cooper and Jessica Kleiman, co-authors of Be Your Own Best Publicist: How To Use PR Techniques to Get Noticed, Hired and Rewarded at Work, agree that good communication skills and the ability to meet a deadline are great skills to bring up when mentioning your experience working for a college publication.

School newspaper experience means you are a good writer or editor, can tell a story, and you meet deadlines well,” Cooper and Kleiman say.

Good communication skills will always be a major asset in any workplace. Something as simple as connecting the way your writing experience has improved your ability to effectively and concisely communicate a message will make employers take notice.

What to say:

“Working on the staff of my university’s newspaper has enhanced my ability to communicate and write concisely, and this skill has positively shaped my marketing and public relations proficiencies.”

5. Part-time jobs

At first, it may seem insignificant compared to the job you’re applying for, but mentioning any part-time work experience is a great way to show your ability to work well with other people and to be both professional and dependable. Sarah Beth Kaye, a senior at Rutgers University, always makes sure to include the value of her experience working as front desk personnel in a university building.

“While I am not applying for front desk personnel jobs, it shows that I have great people skills and am well practiced in working with people,” Kaye says. “Almost any job in which you talk to people on a professional level, whether or not it fits your future career path, is good to mention because it shows that you are able to communicate professionally and properly with people.”

Cooper and Kleiman agree that, ultimately, any work experience and the skills you’ve learned from it can easily be made applicable to whatever job you are applying for.

“Drill down to what elements could translate to an office or more traditional job,” Cooper and Kleiman say. “Be creative but honest and you’ll have a treasure trove of experience and skills from which to pull.”

Other jobs, like waitressing or working retail, translate well to people skills and customer service as well! Even if your choice of part-time employment isn’t one that involves constantly working with people, mentioning the work ethic it has taught you is a great way to show employers that you’re prepared for the challenge of a full-time job or internship

What to say:

“My summer job as a waitress has allowed me to develop the ability to manage competing priorities and hone my interpersonal skills.”

6. Participating in Greek life

Ever thought about mentioning your sorority at an interview? Next time, you totally should. Kleiman and Cooper say that few activities provide you with such great people skills as participation in Greek life does, and if you’ve ever worked on your sorority’s recruitment tasks, you’ve definitely gained some valuable marketing skills too!

“On the rush committee for your sorority? You probably have had to develop your interpersonal skills and even garnered a little marketing experience,” Kleiman and Cooper say.

No matter what job you’re applying for, the interpersonal skills participating in a sorority provides you with will be valuable to any employer. It’s also a great idea to mention the way sororities teach leadership, and oftentimes, conflict management when necessary.

What to say:

“My participation in Greek life on campus has developed my interpersonal skills, and working specifically on our rush committee to attract new recruits has cultivated my marketing and public relations skills.”

Even if you haven’t had a ton of time to hone your skills in the real world, showing employers the ways your experiences in college translate to the workplace is a great way to make yourself a standout applicant. Get ready for those offers to start rolling in!

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