Developing Skills Outside the Classroom

As we all understand, life moves frighteningly quickly. Not only do the physical seasons seem to fly by, but put in the context of career conversations, the speed of life can make decisions (both academic and career related) quite blurry. It might seem difficult, as a student at Boston University, to simultaneously focus on an extremely rigorous education and endure overwhelming thoughts about your career path. We get that it seems outrageous: it feels like you just got accepted (and decided) to become a Terrier and now you are expected to think about next steps? Don’t worry! It may surprise you how interconnected your academic and career paths are.

Consider a number of experiences that will be complimentary to your education. Before we dive into a few of them, it is important to note that these experiences don’t have to be directly related to your field of study. While that may seem like the intuitive route, there are many transferable skills (think: communication, problem solving, critical thinking, etc.) that can come from an “extracurricular” experience seemingly unrelated to your major/school/department.

Where to Start

If you are nervous about building your skills outside of an academic setting, you’re not alone! You may not even realize what things count as “skill-building” experiences, many of which you likely already have under your belt! While traditional internships (which we’ll cover later in this post) may be the first thing that comes to mind as you build your resume, there are many other things that you can use to showcase your ever-growing repertoire of skills.

Remember that summer you spent volunteering as a lifeguard at your town pool? Or, what about the club you became really active in during your late years of high school/early years at BU? It’s important to focus about the things that you have been involved with, rather than stress about the things that you have not. Simply highlighting and altering the wording of a resume description can help transform an activity you may not see as anything special into proof that you are an asset to a future employer!


Now that you have begun to re-frame your past experiences as skill-building, let’s talk about internships!

The “What”: Internships are a fantastic way to apply skills that you’ve acquired in your classrooms across campus. Not only do internships offer unique exposure to new environments and conversations within a specific field, but they actually increase an individual’s employability. I promise! According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, students are more likely to find employment post-graduation if they have internship experience than their counterparts who do not.

The “Who”: It may be easy to count yourself out of the internship conversation depending on many different perceived factors. For instance, you might not feel seasoned enough as a freshman or sophomore still learning the ropes of BU, or sure enough about what you want for a career if you are still figuring out what major to declare, to take claim of an internship opportunity. However, students in any year can pursue internship opportunities.

The “How”: The Center for Career Development is here to help you learn the techniques and strategies that will help you successfully navigate the internship landscape. By logging into Handshake with your BU credentials, you have access to counseling appointments, search and prep workshops, and information sessions! Taking advantage of these resources will aid you in your journey to internships and beyond!

Other Opportunities and Resources

While the Center for Career Development is equipped to help during an individual’s internship search and acquisition, there are other offices across campus that can help students pursue other out-of-classroom experiences. Tapping into offices like the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, the Community Service Center, and the Student Activities Office will help kick-start your search for other valuable experiences out of the classroom.

Whatever you choose, be sure that it is something you’ll enjoy! Like your classes, these experiences require time, energy, and hard work!

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