How to Boost Your Resume with Stand-Alone Projects
Here at HackCollege, we talk a lot about jobs. It’s what most of us are in college for, after all. But all the advice about internships and resumes glosses over one important option that helps secure a job: personal, stand-alone projects.
There are two basic formats for resume design. First, you could focus on job experience. This works great for everyone but college grads, most of which are lucky to have a few internships to scrape together. The better option is the second one, a focus on one’s functional skills. And a strong way to highlight those is with a list of personal projects.
Unlike jobs, projects are one-time deals, with no employer-employee relationship — so there’s nothing stopping you from proving yourself with one or five. Any major can use them, though a Bachelor of Arts tends to have more options. Here’s a rundown of potential projects.
Get Published in a Trade Journal
This is perhaps the best option, as trade journals cover every subject. No seriously, there’s one on concrete.
If you can put together a compelling paper within your field, you have a decent shot at being accepted. If writing is a challenge, tackle the paper together with a friend who’ll take it seriously, and you can make a joint effort. If you’re not sure what to write, check out a few issues of the journal. And if you’re not sure how to submit, talk to a professor.
Create a Website
You should already have a personal site for name recognition and to prevent someone from stealing your online rep. Often it’s merely the couple-of-webpages equivalent to a resume, but if you can manage to blog regularly on career-related interests, you might pick up an audience. It takes work, but running a website is a low-risk way to learn blogging. (You could also write for HackCollege.)
Run a Tumblr
Okay, okay. So the website’s a lot of work. Maybe start a Tumblr instead. Granted, this option is only recommended for a creative field like design, communications, or English. Engineers won’t be impressed by your collection of 70s sci-fi art, no matter how vast. But a PR department might be impressed that you pulled in 10,000 followers within a year.
Like the website, this works best if you have something to say. If you don’t, invite guests. Any subject could use another podcast with a fun, insightful take on it. A faithful schedule could net you an audience, and that’s worth mentioning on a resume.
Some fields are tougher than others to freelance within, so ask around. You might surprise yourself with a grant-writing gig or a tech job updating a website. A one-time project can be found through networking, just like everything else. And you’ll open doors for internships or even a job itself.
Film a Movie
Any Bachelor-of-the-Arts-y field can benefit from a short film on a resume. Scriptwriters to set designers to actors to cinematographers — they all showcase particular skills. Find out where your skill set works best and try to get together with a talented team for your college’s next film fest.
Find a Passion
Look everywhere for unusual stand-alone projects. Push boundaries. Most importantly, make sure it’s something you’ll love creating. Your passion trumps any advice I can pass out.
Have other ideas for resume-boosting projects? Let us know in the comments below!
Image: Scott Kellum