Experience Can Be the Key to Your Success

A lot of employers are looking for experience when they scan resumes.Your solution to meeting this requirement is to participate in a hands-on learning experience—an internship, clinical rotation, or cooperative education placement while you're still in college.

If you start early enough in your college career, you can take several of these positions and at the end of these experiences, you'll have a better understanding of what people in your field do. You'll have started to learn first-hand the culture of your profession, including communication and interpersonal skills needed to succeed in your field. And, you may find an employer you want to work for—and have a full-time job offer in hand at graduation.

Even though an internship, clinical rotation, or co-op experience won't guarantee that you have a job when you graduate, this kind of experience can give you a leg up on the competition for a job. Internships, clinical rotations, and cooperative education programs offer you the opportunity to learn how to:

  *See if your choice of major and your personal career goals are right for you by allowing you to work closely with professionals in your field;
  *Develop hands-on experience related to your major and career goals-you'll gain skills and knowledge on-the-job that you cannot learn in a classroom;
  *Earn the practical employment experience that employers want to see on your resume; and
  *Establish your network of professional contacts: think of this experience as a good way to find professional mentors, leads on jobs in your field, and references you can use to secure the job you want.

Taking part in these programs can pay off in other ways, too, including financially. Some employers pay student workers to participate-and offer higher starting salaries for full-time positions.

In a recent survey, employers reported that, on average, they offer almost two-thirds of their co-op students full-time employment. Employers said they typically extend offers of full-time employment to more than half of their interns.

In addition, almost half of employers said they offer higher salaries to new graduates who have any co-op or internship experience than they do to those who do not have that experience. Just under a third of employers said they offer a higher salary to graduates coming from their own internship or co-op programs than they offer to any other new hires.

Long-term, employers said that graduates who have work experience are more likely to stay with an employer than those who have no prior experience.

If you haven't done an internship or clinical rotation or haven't participated in a co-op program, it's time to go to your college or university career center and find out how you can participate in this experience. Professional experience can add a lot to your success!

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