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Experience Changes Everything Backup

At the Career Connections Center, we believe that every UF student should have a meaningful career experience during their time here. How do you define a meaningful experience? That all depends on you make meaning from your experiences and it starts with reflection.

But how does one reflect you say? By asking yourself a few important questions:

  • What?
  • So what?
  • Now what?

Sounds easy, right? These questions can help you look back on your experiences and identify what you learned, how that is helpful, and what to do next. Incorporating this process into your life is an important part of being able to articulate your skills and be intentional.  Let’s try it out.

What?                   Campus involvement experience as a Director with Dance Marathon.

So what?             Learned about fundraising strategies.

Now what?         Leverage these skills at an internship in non-profit fundraising.

What if I am stuck and don’t know which experience is right for me? You can start by using this energy and engagement log (link below). This tool will help you reflect on your experiences and get clarity on what energizes you. It will also help you reframe your current mindset and get insight on what motivates you. The rest is a matter of filling your life with those experiences that energize, engage, and motivate you.

Use the Eight Semester Career Readiness Guide to guide the academic and professional experience you choose to pursue. This resource offers tangible action steps for making the most of your time at UF.


Your experiences while in college aid your ability to confidently pursue your career goals in a variety of ways. Not only can they enhance your academic experience, they also allow you to learn and develop transferrable skills and market the unique value you bring to the workforce. Below is a list of experiences that you can take advantage of during your time at the University of Florida.

Build experience by engaging in non-traditional independent paid work. Gig work is referred to as freelancing, temp work, self-employment, or subcontracted work. It is a great way to test out a new occupation or industry and develop professionally.

Get busy with your gig life by exploring the resources below. Just don’t forget to reflect on your gigs once they’re complete.

Relevant Links

Both paid and unpaid internships allow you to apply what you are learning in the classroom to the workplace and usually last for one semester. Consider these hands-on experiences to cultivate valuable and relevant competencies and develop a unique portfolio of work experience that sets you apart from your peers.

Start your search for an internship by checking out the resources listed below. Reflect on your experience once you complete it so that you can make meaning and be able to tell the story of what you learned to your next employer.

Relevant Links and Offices

Grow your skillset and gain industry experience by participating in alternating semesters of academic classes and paid full time work within a company. Co-ops offers the unique benefit of balancing your studies by taking advantage of alternating semesters. Staying with one company affords you the ability of obtaining in depth and increasingly more robust work experience and developing meaningful relationships with potential future coworkers.

Things you will need:

  • Resume
  • Student agreement form
  • Signed offer letter
  • Meet with your advisor
  • Proposed schedule for work vs school

Ready to get started in your co-op journey? Make use of the resources below to help you find and secure the opportunity that best suits your academic and professional interests.

Relevant Links and Offices

UF currently has more than 11,000 active research projects across many disciplines – spawning new products, making breakthrough discoveries, and having an impact on the world. Engage in this high impact practice to test your interest in a research career, build your analytical skills, or be a part of an interesting project.

Connect to research opportunities and resources below just make sure you learn how to include these experiences on your resume and other professional documents.

Relevant Links and Offices

During your time here, you may decide to work for UF. Being a student employee, otherwise referred to as a paraprofessional, is a great way to build relationships with faculty and staff, apply your classroom knowledge, and gain experience that can help propel your career.

Get started finding the on-campus employment opportunity that is best for you by visiting the resources below.

Relevant Links and Offices

Understanding the world in which we live and work, requires a curiosity of different cultures, communities, and people. Whether you are taking academic classes, interacting with people from different backgrounds, or working abroad, exposure to a diverse workforce and increasingly global society is paramount to your success. Both credit and non-credit options are available to you.

Begin your global journey by following the links below to get the information you need to take those next steps.

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Build leadership and community by actively engaging in on-campus clubs and organizations that align with your interests, values, identities, or pursuits. Choose from more than 1000 student organizations covering academic and social interests, religious and cultural affiliations, community service and activism, and much more.

Students who get involved: (from SAI website)

  • Make themselves more marketable to internships, jobs and graduate or professional schools
  • Develop time management skills and self-discipline
  • Learn how to effectively work in teams
  • Develop leadership and interpersonal skills

Build experience and get connected on-campus through involvement. Explore these resources to learn more about specific opportunities you can explore.

Relevant Links and Offices

Service is giving of time and expertise to an organization or cause. This can include volunteering, community service, and service learning which incorporates academic practices. No matter which way you choose to be of service, this is a great way to develop new skills and competencies while testing out your career ideas and affirming your interests.

Venture through the resources listed below and you will find a variety of opportunities to engage in service.

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Mentorship involves guidance and interactions with professionals or seasoned individuals to get insight into industry or academics, while promoting personal and professional growth. Mentorship practices vary, but the most important facet is the relationship created between mentor and mentee. Mentorship can be short term or long term, through a formal setting (i.e. coordinated through a program) or informal conversations. This is a great way to build your network and develop professionally in an industry or occupation.

Read more about mentorship opportunities on campus in the resources below.

Relevant Links and Offices


Shadowing and externships allow for a more in-depth and personal view of tasks of different professions and industries. A huge benefit is that the experience ranges from one hour to a few days. There might be additional training, paperwork or requirements involved with shadowing experience but the opportunity to test your career ideas and gain insight is well worth the effort.

Think an externship or shadowing is right for you? Take a look at these resources to get clarity and gain insights into the people and the processes that can turn your vision into a reality.

Relevant Links and Offices
• UF Pre-Health Shadowing Information
• Shadowing: Talk to a career coach to learn how to find and ask potential professionals to shadow in your community.
• Disability Resource Center

Practicums are limited-term hands-on experiences. In a practicum experience, degree programs require students to develop an intimate understanding of how course content can be applied in the field through observation and the completion of meaningful tasks. Practicum students are typically closely supervised and mentored by staff working in the field. Although these experiences are unpaid, they are credit-bearing experiences and usually a degree requirement.

Practicums are best researched in your college or by checking out Gator CareerLink for open opportunities.

Relevant Links and Offices

  • Practicum: See Your College Advisor for information on whether this option is available to you in your degree program.
  • Career Connections Center: Check Gator CareerLink or design your own experience by reaching out to an organization of interest.
Dedicating 10-20 hours on or off-campus to gain valuable work experience affords you numerous opportunities to earn while you learn when you consider part-time work. Whether it is in your career field of interest or not, you will be able to develop transferrable skills, demonstrate work competencies, gain references and build winning content for your resume.

Earn while you learn with part-time work. Explore a wide variety of opportunities in the resources below and get a head start building experience.

Relevant Links and Offices

Although generally defined by an employer, full-time workers usually work more than 35 hours per week in a career field of interest. This opportunity allows you to develop key workplace competencies within your desired industry. However, students should ensure that they are able to balance both work and school schedules.

Preparing for your next steps? Check out these resources to help you find the full-time work opportunities that best meet your needs.

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Apprenticeships are long term paid programs that couple classroom learning with on the job training. Class credit can also be earned in tandem to the apprenticeships, along with the paid work experience.

Discover apprenticeship opportunities by exploring these resources.

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Help fund your tuition by participating in training, teaching, and/or research experiences in an academic field related to your chosen discipline. The merit-based award you receive helps to offset the cost of your education and the experience give you a competitive edge as you prepare for your next steps after graduation. Fellowships are most common in graduate studies but can be found in some undergraduate disciplines as well.

Develop professionally as an academic with a fellowship and build experience in the classroom or the lab. Check out these resources to help you get started on taking your next steps.

Relevant Links and Offices