Are you interested in majoring in Business when you go to college? Well, the best way to stand out on your college applications is to gain real work experience now. Real-life business experience will help you advance your skills, build relationships with professionals in the field, strengthen your résumé, and gain a better understanding of what Business specialty you want to pursue. Look into these opportunities for simple ways to add business experience to your college applications.
1. Search for internship opportunities
Internships are a great and common way to get real-life experience. Research companies you’re interested in on their websites and through job boards. You can also talk to family, friends, and teachers if they’re knowledgeable about internships or work in the business field themselves. If you need more advice, CollegeXpress has plenty, including articles about finding internships in high school.
2. Create a résumé
When applying for jobs, internships, and volunteer opportunities, you’ll need a great résumé. Résumés are meant to showcase your qualifications and show why you’re a good fit for the position. As a high school student, be sure to include information such as your GPA, advanced classes, contact information, class rank, standardized test scores, extracurriculars and clubs, leadership positions, volunteer work, job experience, and anything else that a potential employer would be impressed with.
Related: How to Craft the Perfect High School Résumé
3. Contact local businesses
Sometimes the easiest way to get business experience is to just email local businesses in your area to see if they’d be interested in letting you job shadow or intern. Try to find businesses that match your interests and career goals. Then contact the business and express your interest in working with them. Email them your name, high school, résumé, and contact information. Be sure to proofread your message so it's as professional as possible; this will show the business that you’re determined to land a position.
4. Prepare for interviews
A company that’s interested in you for a job shadowing or internship opportunity may want to interview you first to discuss your qualifications or get to know you as a person. Be sure to research potential questions and tips before you sit down with them, and try practicing your answers to common interview questions with family or friends. This will also be useful for college admission because you may be asked to sit for an admission interview.
Related: 5 Ways to Make a Great Impression Before a Big Interview
5. Start a business or nonprofit
Starting your own business at such a young age is great if you’re trying to showcase your entrepreneurial skills to colleges. You’ll develop important skills like management and financial literacy, and your endeavors show colleges that you’re passionate about something. Think about anything you’re interested in; you could sell friendship bracelets, baked goods, lawn mowing, babysitting, tutoring, cleaning services, and so much more! You can grow your business by creating a website or social media pages. Be sure to keep track of your sales, donations, and customer base to quantify the work you’ve done.
6. Sign up for a class or summer program
There are plenty of beginner business classes you can take before college starts. Your high school or a local community college may offer some. There are also plenty of online classes, webinars, and seminars to sign up for to gain experience—including some that are free. Many colleges also host summer programs to promote students interested in the business field. Do some research on the top business schools to see if they have any programs that could be applicable to you. Just be aware that getting into these programs can be competitive and have fees and long application processes.
Related: 5 Good Reasons You Should Take a Summer Class
7. Join a business club at your school
There are many business-focused clubs your school may offer, such as DECA, Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), entrepreneurship club, stock market club, and Business Professionals of America (BPA)—all of which offer valuable business experience and often the opportunity for competitions and scholarships. Taking on a leadership position and making a difference in the club will look very good to colleges. If your school doesn’t have a business-oriented club, make your own! And your club membership doesn’t have to be limited to business groups; holding a leadership position in almost any club gives you the skills and experience business schools are looking for.
8. Find a mentor
Adults can offer a lot of insight about the field, so look to your community to find someone who can be your business mentor. Reach out to a person you’re inspired by and ask if you can discuss your interest in business. They may be willing to share their personal experiences, and once they see how passionate you are, they may even offer you a shadowing position as well.
Related: Mentors: Why They Rock and Where to Find Them
At the end of the day, you have to be creative and determined to develop your communication, data, leadership, teamwork, problem-solving, time management, planning, math, and other skills that are important to the business field. Colleges want to see that your interest in business is rooted in real experience and that you know what you’re getting into. Finding opportunities will really make you stand out compared to other applicants while strengthening your chances of getting into the business colleges of your choice.
Sydney frequently writes about pursuing Business education as well as other helpful advice for high school students. Check out more blogs and articles from this student writer!