#AskAHiringManager: How To Make Your Leadership Experience Stand Out On Your Resume

By: Khadejah Stegall

Khadejah Stegall is a part of the TLC college ambassador program and a recent college graduate of North Carolina A&T State University.

It can be very discouraging to try to land that first internship with no prior experience in the field of your interest. Leadership is essential to a lot of students, and they take on roles for different organizations such as presidents, secretaries, ambassadors, and orientation leaders to give back to the school. While this a great accomplishment, you can look back and see that you have no experience in your desired field because you were busy serving. The good news is that you can still land an internship or job with a great company if you spin your experience to match the characteristics of what the job looks for. TLC interviewed a recruiter from Intuit, Aliyah Benton. Benton got her first internship from a minority program, and it led to her coming on full-time at Intuit. Benton gives us some advice on how to make your leadership stand out on your resume.

Q: If a student does not have any internship experience because they have been busy with leadership experience, what is the best way to go about getting their first internship?

A: This is such a great question! When I first started looking for internships, I was so afraid that I would not get one because I had never had one before, but had a lot of leadership experiences on campus. I learned that the experiences that I had in leadership were still perfect examples of how I could thrive in the workplace. I would suggest that for anyone looking for an internship for the first time who has leadership experience is to use those experiences to your benefit! Sit down and analyze your leadership experiences and write down how your background can benefit a company. Being able to show those great characteristics that you gained from leadership can show a company you can adapt quickly to what their company is looking for. 

Q: What are some good buzz words to include on your resume to make it more attractive to a recruiter?

A: As a recruiter, I have been able to review many resumes. Some of my favorite words that I have seen are “lead,” “gain,” “coordinated,” “built/created,” “enhanced,” “outcome,” and “inspired.” There are so many words to describe what you do, how you made something better and how you have grown from your experiences. Remember a resume is a gateway to a company so only put high-level experiences and what is relevant to what you are applying for. Save smaller projects and leadership examples for the interview!

Q: If a student was a mentor, president, or secretary for an organization, how can they better represent their experience to catch a recruiter's eye?

A: I think using your passion and experience to show a recruiter that you have gained knowledge from those positions go a long way. When I got my first internship, I used a lot of my leadership experiences being a president of an organization, a social media promoter for a local art gallery and being a campus student ambassador and much more to my advantage. I think any students that are in any leadership position can better represent their experience by making sure that they are doing beneficial things in their positions that highlight their skills. So, when you are organizing campus programs, doing organization fairs and speaking on panels, those are all great skills that you can translate into saying “I have event planning, recruitment, public speaking and organizing experience” and will catch a recruiter’s eyes. 

Q: What are some other things students can get involved in or skills students can develop to advance their resume?  

A: I believe all students would benefit from some professional development program or professional mentor whether it be on campus or off campus. I learned from campus leaders and my mentors, Robin Butler and Mya Ervin, how to be a leader, be resilient and how to use my passions and turn them into leadership skills. Through the Management Leadership of Tomorrow (MLT) Career Prep Program in 2015-2016, I was able to hone in on my skills, developed a plan for my career and gained the confidence in myself to approach companies I once dreamed of working for. Some skills I would suggest having as a candidate are good communication skills, time management, critical thinking, ambition and constancy. Also, getting involved on campus is so important because you learn so much about yourself through those positions. Going to organization fairs, club interest meetings and programs can help to open doors to leadership that can be put on a resume.

Q: Can you talk about your personal experience on how you landed your first internship and what experience you had before your first internship?

A: Through the MLT Program, I was able to meet the company I currently work for. My focus was finding an internship in human resources and recruitment. I had several leadership positions that helped me understand my skills. As a student ambassador for undergraduate admissions and the recruitment chair for the NAACP 2014-2015, I realized my passion for recruitment by helping others achieve their goals. At the time, I was the 2nd Vice President of The LadyBUGS mentoring organization, in which I am now the Chief Programming Officer. In this position, I was able to plan bonding activities and programs in the organization. This is where I found I love planning events for people and making a difference through programming. As a public relations student, I was able to learn a lot of skills about publications, positive image and working with others that showed me I could use PR in my field. Overall, I was able to learn how to be resilient when facing obstacles through personal and professional situations at my wonderful university. I have realized that staying positive, open-minded, peaceful and grounded in my life helps me to make decisions for myself and my career better. 

Khadejah Stegall is a college mommy blogger that inspires others to achieve the impossible through the power of Jesus. She enjoys family time, eating vegan meals when it's convenient and mentoring others on professional development. To be inspired by more post, follow her blog at khadejahstegall.com