You know that you need to get “real world” experience, but where do you start? Hear what other SJSU students have done.
As a student here at SJSU, you can gain relevant skills in the job market by engaging in direct experience both in and outside of the classroom. These opportunities for professional and personal development allow you to build a strong portfolio of work to be competitive in the job market. Building relevant experience is not limited to jobs and internships, but rather can include work you are already doing in the classroom, such as class projects, and the myriad of activities available on and off campus, such as study abroad and student involvement.
As you build experience, you will gain important skills that can be applied to your career. Just by being a student here at SJSU, you are developing key transferable skills that are described in the University Learnings Goals (ULGs). Many of these skills overlap with the top skills that employers seek according to NACE’s 2017 report including:
- Teamwork Ability - to work well with others and generate group cooperation
- Problem Solving Ability - to identify the source of a problem and provide a solution
- Communication Skills - to convey meaning effectively to individuals and groups
- Work Ethic - to intrinsically believe that hard work is a reward in itself
- Leadership - to motivate a group of people to act towards achieving a common goal
- Adaptability - to adjust to new and changing situations
Not sure where to start? Take this Buzzfeed Quiz!
Then practice your skills by getting your Build Experience Badge!
See our Job and Internship Search Guide.
Getting an on-campus job is a great way to start building work experience even as a freshman. Whether you’re working at Associated Students, Spartan Shops, or as a resident advisor, many of these opportunities teach you real world skills such as communicating with a diverse population, working with a team, and building a strong work ethic. For information on federal work-study, see the Financial Aid Office website.
- SJSU Handshake - Filter by "On-Campus Student Employment" under Job Type to find opportunities. Check the On-Campus/Part-Time Job Fairs every semester for an opportunity to meet in person.
- Associated Students - Variety of positions available.
- Student Union - Variety of positions available.
- Spartan Eats - Variety of positions available.
- Martin Luther King Jr. Library - Variety of positions available
- Police Department - Variety of positions available
- Orientation Leaders - Lead summer orientations for new students.
- Resident Advisors - Develop residential communities for on-campus students.
- Peer Connections - Tutor or mentor your peers both in and outside of the classroom.
- Writing Center - Help students on a variety of writing assignments.
Similar to on-campus jobs, getting a part-time job can be that first step to building real world work experience while developing transferable skills.
Internships are one of the most important ways to build experience - 60% of students with a paid internship received at least one job offer. Gaining relevant experience in your field of interest through an internship shows future employers that you are able to apply what you learn in the classroom to the professional world.
Creating and managing your own business not only helps to build your portfolio, but also showcases important qualities such as initiative and work ethic. This can help you stand out to employers. While freelance work has typically been thought of as reserved for design and art fields, it can include a variety of projects, from marketing to web development to data analytics.
In the Classroom
As a student, you are expected to spend 5400 hours on your coursework to graduate. Check out our Curriculum to Career Guide to learn how to maximize those hours for your career. You can also take courses that already have real world experiences built in.
- Humanities Honors Program - Develop a foundational knowledge of human history while taking a fast track to complete your GEs.
- Global Leadership Passport - Develop global leadership skills and a global mindset.
- COMM/EDUC/ENGR/HA/SCI157SL Community Action - Get involved with local community services, both off campus and on campus.
- UNVS095A Service Learning for Academic Leaders - Learn basic and leadership skills, pertinent academic information, and strategies for achieving personal and academic goals.
In addition to transferable skills, gaining field-specific skill sets such as marketing or graphic design can increase the number of jobs available to you. An easy way to learn these skills is through self-paced online courses.
LinkedIn Learning - SJSU students gain access to free online courses to learn marketable skills in digital office skills, software development, project management, data analytics, design, photography, and many more topics. Log in with your SJSUOne ID and password to get started.
Coursera - Take courses in a variety of topics such as machine learning, neural networks, psychology, financial markets, and more.
Study & Work Abroad
Broadening your horizons through study and work abroad is a great way to not only build a global mindset, but also to learn about yourself. Learn How to Market Your Global Experience.
Study Abroad- Earn credits during the school year or breaks by joining faculty-led or exchange programs in 55 different countries.
GoinGlobal- Access this resource by logging in to SJSU Handshake and clicking on Career Center > Resources. Search for opportunities and learn about job/internship search strategies abroad.
Salzburg Program - Learn from leading thinkers regarding strategies for solving global issues.
Alternative Spring Break- Work with local residents on grassroots problems to address critical, unmet needs. Open to all students.
Interested in pursuing a master’s or doctorate degree? Building research experience can be very helpful when applying to graduate programs or jobs that require research skills.
Explorations in Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity - Work with a faculty member on a research project or creative activity. To apply, fill out the Google Form.
Undergraduate Research Grant Program - Apply for funding in April for a research project.
Office of Research - Learn how you can engage in research.
Resources to Advance Your Research - Find resources that will help you in your research such as identifying funding opportunities and preparing a proposal.
McNair Scholars Program - Apply to this program for the opportunity to work with a faculty member to design your own research project as well as receive assistance in pursuing your graduate degree. Open to low income first generation and/or underrepresented groups.
Getting involved on campus is one of the easiest ways to build experience as a student at SJSU. Not only do you learn transferable skills such as leadership, communication, and teamwork, but you also build a strong network of peers and staff to help support you in your future goals.
SJSU Hex Badge Program- Collect and earn different hex badges from campus departments and organizations.
Recognized Student Organization Directory- Get connected with other students by joining recognized student organizations on campus.
Student Organizations by Interest Area- Find student organizations based on your field of interest.
Student Organization Request Form- To request a workshop or event consultation please complete this form.
- A.S. Candidates - Serve on the A.S. Government by running for positions such as president, director of community and sustainability affairs, and more.
- A.S. Committees - Get involved in campus decisions by joining committees on various topics such as operations, finance, student success, and strategic planning.
Center for Community Learning and Leadership- Get hands-on experience learning to address, analyze, and solve curricular issues.
- Volunteer Opportunities - Find local volunteer opportunities at organizations such as Global Women’s Leadership Network, Abilities United, and CommUniversity.
- Strive for College Youth Mentoring Program - Mentor low-income high school students to guide them through the college application process and support them with opportunities and resources.
- Fuerza Escholar Youth Mentoring Program - Mentor elementary school youth struggling in school academically or behavioral issues to bright more light to the learning experience.
- Sembradores - Mentor Latino elementary school students in strengthening their reading skills.
- A.S. Community Garden - Help run the local on-campus garden.
Child Development Center - Get experience working with children as a teacher assistant on-campus. Priority given to students with units in child development or child psychology.
Mosaic Cross Cultural Center - Educate peers and facilitate workshops and programming on a variety of topics focused on diversity, equity, and social justice.
Gender Equity Center - Help plan events that advocate for social justice, respect, and safety for the SJSU community.
Pride Center - Get involved in leadership retreats, peer mentor programs, and weekly discussions that support and advocate for LGBTIQQA students at SJSU.
Volunteering is a great way to give back to your community no matter what field you are in.
Learn How To Become - Not sure where to start? Learn about the main sectors of volunteer work, how to get started, and resources for opportunities.
Idealist.org - Find volunteer opportunities in various fields.
SJSU Handshake - Filter by "Volunteer" under Job Type to find opportunities.
Local Volunteer Opportunities - Volunteer at local organizations serving the public with social, health, housing, and other services.
VolunteerMatch - Find volunteer opportunities in areas such as advocacy, technology, education, health, and more.
Learn from professionals in the field or serve as a mentor to other students and share your experience as a Spartan.
Learn from an Alumni Professional Mentor - A great way to build experience in a field is to learn from the stories and guidance of a mentor currently working in that field. The SJSU2 Professional Mentoring & Meetups Program can help you arrange an alumni mentor relationship that fits with your career goals. Log in to to arrange mentoring with an alumni professional today.
Mentoring Resources - Find the right mentor for you. Review the list of possible mentorship opportunities available to SJSU students.
Alumni Mentors - Connect with SJSU alumni and learn from their experiences through panels, company tours, and more.
Peer Mentor - Connect with a peer mentor who can help you with academic and social adjustment at SJSU. You can meet with a peer mentor on the same day or request for an appointment in advance.
Challenge yourself by putting your skills to the test with on and off-campus competitions.
Silicon Valley Innovation Challenge - Test your entrepreneurial skills and compete for cash rewards by working in a team of students to create your own service or product. Join the IDEAS Club to learn more about entrepreneurship.
Paseo Public Prototyping Challenge - Team up in this 9-month challenge to receive seed funding and develop innovative prototypes addressing critical social and environmental issues in San Jose. Students are mentored by civic leaders, local non-profits, and SJSU faculty.
Hackathon - Challenge your skills and work with other people to transform ideas into reality. Participate in a hackathon event near you.
Develop career readiness skills over the course of one semester by completing the Build Experience Badge, part of the Career Readiness Program.