It’s Common Sense… Graduate with Experience!


At some point, every college student is faced with the existential realization that their time at UNCW will end and they will have to go into “the real world.” One of the most common problems graduates run into is finding a job without experience. It’s a never-ending cycle: you need experience to get a job and you need a job to get experience. Thankfully, there are several things you can do while you are still in college to get the experience you need to snag a job straight out of college.

Get an Internship

Taking an internship is one of the best things I ever did at UNCW. My internships encouraged me to pursue a career in Integrated Marketing Communication. Through my internships, I gained valuable experience and had the chance to learn what skills were in demand and what I should work on before I entered the job market. If you have a chance, try to get multiple internships while you are still a student. Seawork is always full opportunities. I got my first internship during my first semester of college. Since then, I have had two other internships and will graduate this year with over four years of experience in my field.

An internship is a great way to gain experience while connecting with potential employers. According to a 2016 report by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), internship experiences significantly increase a student’s chance of being offered a job after college and receiving a higher starting salary. In addition, 46% of students who participated in an internship received a job offer.

Enroll in an Applied Learning Class

When it comes to experience, you couldn’t have picked a better school. UNCW places a strong emphasis on connecting its students with applied learning opportunities. Applied learning is the chance to take the theories, ideas, and skills one learns in the classroom and apply it to real life situations. Most upper-level communication studies courses place an emphasis on applied learning. For example, our IMC II class is helping UNCW research the impact crises have on its brand image. Experiences like these are great for your resume and provide valuable experience that is sure to impress employers.

Learn Something New

As communication studies majors, we are taught to be lifelong learners. The job market is constantly shifting and employers are always looking for new sets of skills. Learning something new can make you much more marketable in the job market. Instead of turning on Parks and Recreation or The Office, spend some time learning about SEO, Analytics, Facebook Ads, or other skills that are relevant to your field. Aren’t sure what to look for? Searching for jobs online is a great way to learn which skills are in demand and what you should be working on.

Don’t Stress

As a student, the idea of preparing to get a job can sometimes seem overwhelming. You may feel like you’ll never have enough skills or experience to achieve success. My advice is to take things one step at a time. Go on Seawork and apply for an internship, sign up for an upper-level communication studies class, look at WordPress tutorials on your phone between classes, or sign up for a (super inexpensive) Adwords or Analytics certification class at CIE. No matter what you do, there’s a job that can use your skills. Keep on learning and growing. You got this.

Photo from

-K. Layne Smith