The catch-22 of employment is the need for a job to get experience and the need for experience to find a a job. Internships and practicums provide a solution. Internships are low-paid or unpaid positions that offer on-the-job training. Practicums differ in that they are unpaid and are an essential part of many college and graduate degree programs, including education, social work and even engineering. They provide supervised practical application of theoretical course work and make an ideal résumé-building opportunity.
Highlighting Your Practicum
Susan Ireland, in her article "A Résumé That Works," says that job descriptions alone do not effectively play up your experience. An achievement statement does. An achievement statement provides a job description, while also accentuating the level of excellence you attained and the personal satisfaction you derived from the successful use of your skills.
Listing Your Accomplishments
Think about your experience in positive, accomplishment-oriented terms. List the occasions when you excelled or improved effectiveness and efficiency by streamlining procedures. Give examples of when you took the initiative or received honors, awards or exemplary performance reviews. Give details about the time you worked for an accomplished authority in the field.
Creating Achievement Statements
Arrange your accomplishments into achievement statements by using what the Texas Workforce calls the CAR method, an acronym for challenge, action and results. The challenge is the problem or opportunity you addressed. The action outlines the steps you took, and the results define the consequences of your actions. Begin your achievement statement with an action word that reflects the requirements of the job you're seeking. For example, if you're responding to an advertisement for an experienced marketer, a simple job description would say you "developed and executed direct mail campaigns." An achievement statement, however, would state you "created and implemented an informative multimedia campaign addressing changing industry trends which resulted in a 33 percent increase in sales revenue." Be specific when describing results, and use statistics instead of empty words.
Optimal Résumé Placement
Practicums should be listed under the experience portion of your résumé. If you're a recent graduate with no paid work experience, highlight your scholastic achievements, awards, course of studies and honors by listing your education first. Next, include your work experience, highlighting the practicum first and then other jobs or volunteer work. Placing your academic achievements towards the top of your résumé puts your practicum in a logical spot and highlights its importance. Keep stellar letters of recommendation on file, and you'll make an outstanding candidate for employment.