Build Experience

Step Four: Build Experience

Don't get trapped in a career you don't love. In Step 4 of the exploration process, you’ll start acquiring real-world experience in the field you’re most interested in. You’ve already researched careers with our IU Career Guides in Step 3, which means now you can focus on the opportunities that will accelerate your career planning—not interrupt it.

Best of all, we classify the work you’ll do in this step as experiential learning—which means you can leverage it as marketable experience on your resume.

Ways to build experience and enhance your resume

  • Campus Involvement & Student Organizations

    Getting involved with any student organization can help you to gain experience and network with students who have similar interests and goals. Look for the Student Involvement Fair at the beginning of each semester to investigate a variety of options. Also, keep in mind that you can join a student organization any time of the year. Visit your career advisor,, or the Get Experience section of the Career Guides to explore the various student groups on campus.

    With over 800 student organizations, including everything from the Environmental Law Society to the Sweet Potato Club, you will be able to find something that you can get excited about at Indiana University.  Some clubs have obvious ties to a possible future careers, and all of them can help you to build transferrable skills. For many student groups part of their mission is to help their members with career development.

  • Internships

    Internships enable you to take your career plan for a test drive. There’s no better way to get a clear picture of what you would be doing, the work environment and the types of people you would be working with on a daily basis. Additional perks: great way to meet people; make professional contacts and start building your professional network.

    Having an internship gives you an incredible advantage when it comes time to finding full-time work. Internships look amazing on your resume and they represent your ability to be a responsible employee.  So….best advice is start your search for internships as early as your freshman year. Make the summer between your freshman and sophomore year count. Visit your career advisor to learn more about strategies for finding the perfect internship.

  • Part-time Jobs: Non-Work Study

    Part-time jobs not only provide a paycheck but also create opportunities to explore your career journey.

    Part-time student employment provides benefits beyond your paycheck. Did you know that almost 80% of college students work part-time while pursuing their undergraduate degree? Maintaining a part-time job—even a summer job—throughout your academic career shows loyalty to an organization, work ethic, ability to manage time and to multitask, and can help you prepare for career success. We have professional contacts across campus and throughout the Bloomington community who are looking for bright and committed IU students ready to take on part-time work. If you haven’t received a work-study award, don’t worry! There are plenty of non-work-study jobs available on and off campus too.

  • Part-time Jobs: Work Study

    Work study is a form of federal financial aid that can be earned through part-time student employment.

    If you’ve been awarded work study, you’re in luck. Employers are actively seeking you out to fill their part-time positions because they cover only 25% of your paycheck, while the federal government pays the remaining 75%. However, know that only not-for-profit organizations qualify to hire work study employees (i.e. on-campus units, service organizations, etc.). Did you know that IU is one of the largest non-profit organizations in the state? Because work study is a federally sponsored program, international students are not eligible for work study jobs. However, permanent residents of the United States are eligible to apply when completing your FAFSA. As an employee, you will have the same roles and responsibilities as a non-work study position. Work study employers can be located both on and off campus.

  • Service Learning

    Service Learning is a component of some classes in which students provide service to the community, applying what you are learning in the classroom while also gaining real-world experience.

    Service Learning combines academic theory with real-life experiences resulting in a broader and deeper understanding of classroom curriculum. It is an opportunity for students to gain firsthand experience with community and real-world needs. It is a vehicle to act on personal ideals and can be life-changing. Many students find that their service-learning courses help them form future career decisions. Many academic departments and schools include a service-learning component in their curriculum. When registering for classes look for service-learning courses and sections of courses that include a service-learning component. You can also visit your academic or career advisor to learn more. 

  • Study Abroad

    Study abroad experiences are a popular option with students, but did you know they are extremely valuable for developing your future career?

    Students often think of study abroad as an opportunity for personal growth and developing a broader global, cultural understanding.  These benefits can also help you with your career discernment and development process by immersing your in foreign languages, global cultures, internships, and strengthening transferable skills in an international context. According to the Office of Overseas Studies, “At Indiana University you can make overseas study a part of your regular degree program, whatever your major. You can spend an academic year, semester, summer, or even a few weeks abroad while earning IU credit.” If you are considering studying abroad, be sure to meet with an advisor in the Office of Overseas Studies soon.

  • Summer Jobs

    If you've never done it, looking for a summer job may seem intimidating, but it's really not. Summer is a great time to explore the world of work and build transferable skills that will transfer from one job to another. Doing something fun should be a priority. 

    From life guarding to working at local museums or restaurants, tons of young people find interesting and rewarding jobs every summer. Perhaps you want to explore a career field by working in a related job for the summer or, maybe, you just want to do something unique that you may not have the opportunity to do again. The summer job seeker begins in early Spring by asking themselves what they would enjoy doing for the summer. To land a satisfying, relevant summer job, you will need to think seriously about where you will be living and what type of work you want to pursue. A successful summer job search will include networking with friends, family, professionals and talking with your career advisor. 

  • Undergraduate Research

    Undergraduate research is a great way to combine academic interests with hands-on experiences.

    You don’t have to be a graduate student to start conducting research. Many academic departments offer research opportunities to undergraduates. Not only can you gain hands-on experience through research, you can also explore new, creative ideas and investigate real-world problems and issues. It’s a great way to start building experience for your resume. Check out IUB’s research page to find out about the many research opportunities on campus. You can also connect with departments, faculty, and instructors to learn about research opportunities in various majors throughout your undergraduate career. Visit your career advisor to learn more. You can also check out the Journal of Undergraduate Research, which publishes annually through IU Scholar Works. They accept submissions from four different areas: Humanities, Natural Sciences, Professionals Schools, and Social Sciences. 

  • Volunteering

    Volunteering is a great way to build meaningful experience.

    Volunteering with an organization you are passionate about can help personalize your time at IU. It is a great way to learn about specific fields and organizations, network with others, and develop skills. When you volunteer, you often have the opportunity to work on meaningful, exciting projects and see them through to completion. Volunteering is a way to personalize your resume to show employers what you are passionate about and to assure them that you are willing to work hard for what you believe in. Visit your career advisor to learn about opportunities to gain volunteer experience in an area of interest. You can also visit Bloomington Volunteer Network to learn more about volunteer opportunities in the Bloomington community. Volunteering can happen any time. Find something you love to do and get started right away.

Employment Information for International Students

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Hoosier Connections

HoosierConnections is a great way to connect with professionals to set up job shadowing opportunities and informational interviews. These help you start building on-the-job experience. Networking with professionals can also lead to internships and other experiences.


Founded in 2003, LinkedIn connects the world's professionals to make them more productive and successful. The Indiana University Bloomington Alumni Group has over 225,000 members. It's a powerful tool and a great place to connect with professionals no matter what you are pursuing.

Informational Interviewing

A 20 minute conversation will result in you learning more about the career field, will help you expand your network of career professionals and possibly lead to other contacts, or even jobs, within the profession.

Informational Interviewing Guide

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