A common misconception that many college students have when it comes to what to put on their resume is that their experience has to be “professional.” For example, many of my peers that schedule a Resume Review appointment with me come in concerned that they don’t have enough experience to put on their resumes such as an internship or any other form of paid work.

What students don’t know is that you can think of the word “professional” as “relevant”. When creating a resume, the main portion of the document will be labeled and filled with “professional” experience, but try not to think of it in that way. Try to see this section as the experience you have that is most relevant to the job or internship you are applying to. 

We need to remember that we are college students. We are just getting started with our careers and have to start somewhere. To take that first step towards getting an internship, here are some other effective alternatives to put on your resume!

Class Projects

One of the most underrated experiences that you can put on your resume is a project that you have done in class. Many students take at least one class that requires a project – either in a group or individually. For students that have done so, put that project on your resume!!

If it is a group project, that is a great way to show that you are able to work in a team, possibly take a leadership role AND it shows you know how to work with others towards a common goal. Additionally, it is a fantastic way to demonstrate how you have taken your knowledge from your classes and applied it- similarly to how you would in an internship.

Fun fact: If your project includes a physical asset, you can upload that asset to your LinkedIn page and/or personal website so recruiters can get a better understanding of the work you did and see it firsthand!

If your class project was a project done on your own, it is still a great way to showcase how you have taken what you have learned from class and applied it to a real-life situation!

Whether you have done a group project or an individual project, class projects are a fantastic and very effective way of showcasing similar skills that an internship would! You can also include multiple projects on your resume if you have done more than one. Just make sure it is relevant to the position you are applying to!


Example of how a Class Project will be on your resume:

Marketing Plan Project, Chapman University                             September 2020 – December 2020
Marketing Consultant

  • Collaborated with a team to create a six-month marketing plan for a new product/service
  • Developed a strategic plan to market a new product with a proper mission statement and objectives
  • Analyzed the marketing environments of the product, such as the major competitors
  • Constructed promotional mix, including an efficient social media plan
  • Projected break-even point, sales forecast, and promotional spend with a $100,000 budget



Although some students may have class projects, there are others whose industry and/or classes don’t offer opportunities for class projects, but they may have offered opportunities to write papers!

Just like class projects, you can include any papers you have written in your classes on your resume. Just make sure that the topic is relevant to the position! 

Including papers on your resume is also a good idea if the job asks for certain soft skills like written communication skills or if they are looking for a specific kind of writing skill. 

Volunteer Work

Even though it isn’t paid, volunteer work is another great alternative to putting an internship on your resume! You can leverage any volunteer work you do, especially if it relates to your industry or if the organization you volunteer for has similar values to the company you are applying to!

Read our blog “How Volunteering Helped Me Get Job Offers” to learn more about how to leverage your volunteer experience for a job!

Freelance Work

One of the most underrated experiences that students often forget about is freelance work. What is so amazing about freelance work is that you can start it all on your own and you get to choose which projects you work on! This way, you have a more personalized experience towards what you want to do in the future.

Does the internship or job you’re looking at require a certain skill or specific amount of experience with a task? Well, you can use freelance work to your advantage! You can look for projects that relate to this skill or task and complete projects based on that to help you gain the experience necessary to get the internship/job!

Some of our favorite freelance sites include:






If you are interested in other ways to get experience beyond an internship, read our blog “Alternatives to an Internship”!