By Michelle Adams, Staff Writer

In high school, SAT/ACT scores and GPAs ruled your university future. Now that you’re in college, your goal has changed to the more competitive task of becoming the dream job candidate for potential employers. You’ll need more than good grades and club memberships to win your future interviewers over. Try these four things to boost your resume, and get you in the door at the places where you want to work.

1: Create a Portfolio

Whether it’s online or in person, a resume extension can be exactly what your future employer wants to see. Portfolios give you a chance to display your skills, instead of just writing about them.

Your portfolio can take several forms. For aspiring journalists, an online blog might be the perfect way to show employers your writing and web design skills. For future educators, a binder of lesson plans might do the trick. For practicing musicians, a demo CD can show producers your skills. Consider industry trends and personal preference when deciding how to best display your work.

Remember that your portfolio doesn’t have to include everything you’ve worked on. Employers will be more impressed by a small display of excellent work than dozens of pages or tracks of mediocre projects. Keep your portfolio clean, easy to understand, and impressive for the best results.

2: Network at Industry Conferences

While visiting conferences can get pricey, it can be well worth it to attend one or two of these each year. In addition to informative and fun sessions, these are networking hubs like no other. You’ll meet other aspiring moguls like yourself, and come face to face with successful industry professionals that can become contacts or even employers. Especially as you prepare to graduate, conferences can open the door for a myriad of opportunities.

At the conference, make sure you dress your best, and bring resumes or business cards if there might be a job fair. Planning ahead will also guarantee that you make the most of your visit!

3: Experience is Key

Whether it’s a part-time job or an internship, finding employment is one of the best ways to boost your resume. Experience will often say a lot more than a degree, even if it is only loosely related to your field. Working part-time at a daycare is great experience for teachers, and aspiring writers can always find volunteer time at the library. Get ideas from your classmates and professors – they’ll know what other students have done, and can point you in the right direction. There are also tons of websites dedicated to helping college students find internships in their areas; there’s bound to be something you’ll enjoy.

4: Start Something New

Joining a club or organization in college is a great way to get involved, but take this a step further by creating one of your own. Use your passions and interests to make change in your university and community with an advocacy or fundraising organization. 

If you’re struggling to come up with ideas, remember: you don’t necessarily need to start from scratch. Revive that old literary magazine at your university, or find a way to get the campus news station up and running again. Even try turning your Student Government Association from a fund-distributor into a real council that takes a stand against the administration to fight for student rights. The goal is to make a difference and turn something small into something bigger, better, and all your own. This will impress employers and current professors (who, by the way, are great people to help you get your foot into your industry of choice).

Opportunities like these can be found on bulletin boards around your campus, in newsletters, and even directly from professors. Your teachers and administrators are there to help you succeed, but you have to make it happen! Make college more than just all-nighters and midterms by stepping out of your comfort zone, and taking a stand to make change happen at your university.