DePaul University Career Center's Blog

Gaining Meaningful Experiences in Undergrad

By Megan Boone

“Make the most of your four years!” “Get an internship to gain experience!” “You need to have relevant experience on your resume before you graduate!”

You may have encountered one of these phrases from various individuals in your life throughout your four years of college. While there is some truth to these statements, a lot of times pressure can be put on finding the perfect experience, building up your resume with relevant paid experiences, etc.

The reality is, college students are busy balancing their coursework, social lives, part time jobs, and more. Oftentimes, these busy schedules don’t allow for formal paid work or internship experiences in the field. This begs the question, what can I do to gain relevant experience if I don’t have the time to commit to a full time job or internship? Well, the answer isn’t simple because there are a ton of different ways to gain meaningful experiences that build transferable skills to help you achieve your future career goals. 

Here are five different ways to gain (and maintain) meaningful experiences in undergrad outside of a traditional full-time job or internship: 

1.) Volunteering

Volunteering is an impacting way to get involved with the community and various organizations that have specific areas they serve. Not only through volunteering can you gain more insight into how an organization runs, day-to-day responsibilities of a specific career, or more about the population it serves, it’s also rewarding to witness the direct impact your work has. There are varying levels of involvement that one can have volunteering. Whether it’s a one-time or consistent volunteer opportunity, the result of what you can gain from volunteering remains the same which allows for flexibility with busy schedules. Looking to find a volunteer opportunity in your area? Check out VolunteerMatch.

2.) Shadowing

Whether you’re exploring or have a set idea of your career goals, shadowing is another great way of gaining experience and knowledge. Job shadowing can look different across industries but the outcome of a shadowing opportunity is the same. Shadowing is a low-level way of getting involved and gaining more information on a specific career. To start the process of finding a professional to shadow, tap into your personal network of friends, family, professors, personal contacts first and consider starting the conversation with DePaul alumni through the Alumni Sharing Knowledge Network.  

3.) Participating in a Student Club or Organization

Maybe you’re already involved in a student club or organization or maybe you’re thinking about joining one in the future. Student clubs and organizations are not only a great way to get involved with the DePaul community, but they also foster the growth of leadership skills. If you’re already involved with a student organization or looking to get involved in one, consider running for a leadership role within the organization. Seeking out a leadership role can provide many skills beyond leadership to build your interpersonal skills such as strong facilitation, communication, teamwork, and more that are transferable across all industries making you a competitive candidate for future roles you apply to. If you’re looking to get involved in a student club or organization at DePaul, check out DeHub. Already have a leadership role in an organization? Make sure you add a leadership experience section on your resume!

4.) Research

Specifically,  in the fields of Health and Science, research is another great way to build experience and skills that can be transferable across the field. There are many different ways to seek out research opportunities while you’re in school. On campus, there are a lot of faculty that are doing their own research that seek out students to assist in their labs. These faculty span across various departments such as Biological Sciences, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Neuroscience, Psychology, and more. To get involved with research labs on campus, network with your professors to inquire about open positions or check out the faculty pages to investigate which faculty are conducting research. 

5.) Class Projects

It may sound simple since these are already tasks you are doing within your courses, but class projects, papers, presentations, etc. are extremely valuable and can be listed and discussed as experience. Let’s reflect… When it comes to projects you’ve already completed in the courses you’ve taken, which stand out in terms of tangible takeaways, skills development, technology utilization, and more? Maybe it’s a final project or presentation where you developed a specific skill. Or maybe it’s a larger capstone paper you wrote to summarize research you conducted. Any project, paper, or presentation you feel is relevant to any future career goals you may have can be listed in a projects section on your resume or discussed in general as experience. All of the hard work that you put into your classes not only supports your educational development, but is an experience that showcases important transferable skills for your future career. 

All in all, gaining meaningful experiences in college doesn’t have to be a time consuming or daunting task. Nor on your resume, not all of your experiences have to be formal paid work or internship experiences for you to be a competitive candidate for future opportunities. There are various ways to gain experience, and reflect on the experiences you already have, for you to have a strong foundation of experiences and skill set to benefit your career goals.


Looking to identify an experience that fits best with your schedule? Want to bounce ideas off of experiences you’ve already had, and how they fit on your resume? That’s exactly where we come in. Whether you’re a freshman or senior, it’s never too early (or too late) to utilize our advising services.

Book an appointment with Megan, or another member of the advising community through Handshake, or by calling the front desk at (773) 325-7431. 

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